Terrance Galvin


Email for Terrance Galvin

Terrance Galvin was born in Toronto, and studied architecture first at the University of Toronto, and then at the Technical University of Nova Scotia (Halifax). It is here that he initially encountered community design through his friendship with educator Essy Baniassad, received his degree from architect Aldo van Eyck (the city is a big house, and the house a small city) and was introduced to the work of John Turner (housing as a verb). The year after graduation, during 1988, he lived and worked with a community in Villa El Salvador, outside of Lima Peru, during intense activity by the Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso) terrorist group. This was the first of many formative experiences in architecture from the ground up, and has led to further experiences with community groups in India, Thailand, and the Middle East.

The humanist critiques of Illich, van Eyck, and Turner would continue to resurface through a fruitful discussion of architecture without architects, community design from the bottom up, and the cultivation of common sense. Using the traditions and history of architecture as the vehicle for exploring cultural difference, Terrance then returned to the birthplace of his mother in Montreal in order to study the history and theory of architecture at McGill University. The gentle island of Montreal with its two languages, excellent cafs, and multi-cultural background provides a real place from which to study and travel.

An interest in the common ground between architecture and anthropology continued through doctoral studies at the University of Pennsylvania with Professor Joseph Rykwert, whose Idea of a Town was first brought to public attention by van Eyck, closing yet another circle of influence. He then met Ivan Illich while attending the seminar on The History of the Gaze at PENN, which examined the wide spectrum of the human glance in an age of increasing voyeurism. Although he had Read Illich's books (passed down to him by his older brother) as a teenager, his direct friendship with Ivan has further led to the sensible writings of Emmanuel Levinas, Wendell Berry, and Francis Ponge, each fostering a continued cultivation and practice of the sense called 'common sense.'

Terrance has spent the past three years interpreting the work of 19th century English architect Joseph Michael Gandy, whose legacy remains a vast incomplete 2,500 page treatise on the comparative history of architecture entitled the Art, Philosophy, and Science of Architecture. Gandy's imaginative quest for the origins of architecture through a visual compendium led to the invention of a unique language of representation based on mythography and emblematics.

As an architect engaged in proportionality, Terrance's CROP offering will discuss the loss of proportionality through the concepts of space as 'empty,' as opposed to a relation between the elements, and the analogies of harmony and sensation, through the work of French theorist Nicolas Le Camus de Mzires in the 18th century, leading up to a vote on the very use of proportional systems in architecture in the mid 20th century. The time devoted to these discussions on ratio, proportion, and analogy will be apportioned accordingly. Reciprocity, twin phenomena, and complementarity remain at the heart of the matter.


Terrance Galvin's Talks

Sept 28 2000: Prologue to Proportionality in Architecture

Sept 30 2000: Space versus Place: the Loss and Recovery of Proportionality in Architecture


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