Tacit Codes in Traditional and Modern Building Cultures
In contrast to this popular view, Bernard Rudofsky, in his influential 1965 exhibition and book Architecture Without Architects, clearly argues that anonymous builders of the past and present, just like trained architects, are “collective authors” and “designers” in the modern sense of those terms. Rudofsky recognizes, however, that the popular view is supported by most historians, who understand vernacular builders to be unconscious makers, one step above beavers and ants, rather than conscious designers.6 Where Rudofsky does agree with conventional historians is that they both hold that “Vernacular architecture . . . is nearly immutable, indeed, unimprovable, since it serves its purpose to perfection.” In this chapter, we will agree with Rudofsky on the first point-that anonymous builders are conscious designers, as are modern architects-but disagree on the second-that vernacular architecture is perfect, fixed, or unchanging. Although Norberg-Schulz7 accepts the thesis that vernac - ular or tacit codes are unchanging, major figures in the field such as Oliver,8
Rapoport,9 and Davis10 do not. The field is thus split in a way that requires a bit more investigation.