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Low-Tech – Freedom, Creativity & Love. Translating Erich Fromm’s Psychoanalysis into Analyses of Architecture

Marcin Mateusz Kolakowski



An attempt to understand the idea of ‘commons’ in architecture requires analytical tools and a narrative which will refer to ‘common values’. Yet the era of Postmodernism taught us mainly the relativism of multitudes of values, standards and paradigms. It made us used to ‘it all depends’ approach.

Many popular methods of describing architecture are based on analysing it in a historical or cultural context. This paper, however, proposes a perspective that refers to human needs which have arguably been universal for all the people in all historical periods in all cultures. This perspective could be useful particularly while dealing with big contemporary issues of ‘commons’ in architecture – togetherness, ecology, common places and agendas.

This paper propose a framework based on the school of ‘positive psychology’ and in particular on the unappreciated father of the Frankfurt School and critical theory – Erich Fromm who worked all his life on his comprehensive ‘theory of needs’. This paper proposes translating the concepts of this theory into architectural analyses and narrative. 

The analysis of low-tech movement will serve as an example illustrating how the lens of Erich Fromm’s theory allows better understanding of this phenomenon. The objective of this paper is to propose a new definition and narrative of the low-tech movement which will be based on a psychological framework.

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