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Winner of the 8th Annual AIA International Architecture Book Award for CriticismCanarchitecture help us find our place and way in today's complex world? Can it return individuals to awhole, to a world, to a community? Developing Giedion¹s claim that contemporary architecture's maintask is to interpret a way of life valid for our time, philosopher Karsten Harries answers thatarchitecture should serve a common ethos. But if architecture is to meet that task, it first has tofree itself from the dominant formalist approach, and get beyond the notion that its purpose is toproduce endless variations of the decorated shed.In a series of cogent and balanced arguments,Harries questions the premises on which architects and theorists have long relied -- premises whichhave contributed to architecture's current identity crisis and marginalization. He first criticizesthe aesthetic approach, focusing on the problems of decoration and ornament. He then turns to thelanguage of architecture. If the main task of architecture is indeed interpretation, in just whatsense can it be said to speak, and what should it be speaking about? Expanding upon suggestions madeby Martin Heidegger, Harries also considers the relationship of building to the idea and meaning ofdwelling.Architecture, Harries observes, has a responsibility to community; but its ethical functionis inevitably also political, He concludes by examining these seemingly paradoxicalfunctions.