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Title: Unpopular taste : formulating a framework for discussing taste with reference to English volume-built housing and the schism in taste between the lay public and the architectural elite
Author: Horn, Gillian
ISNI:       0000 0004 8504 8889
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2019
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People's visual preferences in architecture are little researched or understood, yet there is growing evidence that aesthetic appeal impacts on people's sense of wellbeing and community belonging. There is an evident divide in taste between the architectural elite and the lay public that promotes a disconnection of the laity from much of contemporary architecture. This study seeks to investigate the nature of the taste schism in order to better understand the drivers and influences on visual preferences that lie at its heart, and to begin to find a language with which to meaningfully discuss taste inside and outside of the architectural elite. I have centred this study on volume-built housing - the most ordinary and ubiquitous building typology in Britain. I do so in two ways: one, looking through different theoretical lenses that together build a knowledge structure of taste, drawing on the work of philosophers, social scientists and architectural theorists; and two, looking for precise and detailed data about people's visual preferences through a purpose designed survey, with quantitative and qualitative aspects. I propose that the key characteristics of the elite-popular taste schism centre on three axial polarities: expert-nonexpert aesthetic appreciation; preferences towards a modernist-traditionalist aesthetic; and preferences towards a detail-plain aesthetic. I conclude that the taste divide hinges around differences in architectural knowledge, values (that are both formally and informally received) and evaluation processes. Whilst I argue that a taste divide is inevitable to some extent, I propose ways of bridging the gap. From my research findings I formulate a framework to structure a discourse on taste - a vital first step in reconciling the current obstructive differences.
Supervisor: Samuel, Flora Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available