History/Theory

1273544_Jenks

  • 1970’s: critical theory focused on labor (or the social)/ this theory did not transition well into neoliberalism
  • theory that involved  Derrida, Heidegger, Deleuze, and Foucault tried to replace the theory that came out of modernist intellectual formations as the intellectual energy spent on mastering a difficult literature—mostly in translation—would enrich architectural discourse and trickle its way down into practice (…) It was hoped that architecture could be taken out of the deadening nexus of modernism and professionalism and be given a “thicker” disciplinary identity (…) The trouble was that the epistemology of delayed gratification could find its resonance in advanced history/theory work (i.e. PhD work), but not in the normative world of the studio (…)  with the arrival of computation, “intellectually-oriented” classes became increasingly impossible to justify in the curriculum (…) Furthermore, and importantly, with the arrival of the globalized student population in American universities, it became increasingly unclear how this Eurocentric reading list dealing with issues from a pre-globalization era could related to the wide range of issues coming from the global realities.
  • the semiotic approach evaporated away. Like the intellectualist stand, it proved to be too difficult to teach
  • Theory, if we think of it at the level of phenomenology, promised to enliven the inner spirit of the designer (…)  it promised a disguised spirituality residing not in humans alone but in materials, or even, more importantly, in joinery, in that proverbial tectonic
  • Theory tried to open up an awareness that history and its critical role in defining the “consciousness of the young student.” (…) Today, out of the around 120 or so architecture schools in the US, one half—if they teach history at all—still teach the old curriculum from pyramids onward
  • Theory—in whatever formation—could only barely deal with the problem of global warming (…) an alternative disciplinary horizon allied, correctly or not, with ethics, management theory, and building technology.
  • Theory—in whatever formation—failed to address the rise of nationalism in the post-colonial context (…) In a complex, global world, is it really a victory when Eurocentrism is replaced by nation-centrism?
  • Theory—in whatever formation—could not cope well in the expanded field of “historical architecture.” (…) no one knows how to teach architectural history, and there were few “theoretical” takes, especially since most of the effort at “theory” now tries to address issues in the contemporary world, a world often conveniently stripped of historical and cultural backgrounds. We have moved from modern architecture to environmental architecture, which serves to bring modern architecture towards its teleological end.
  • Theory—in whatever formation—passively, though in some cases actively promoted the emergence of Modernist Majoritarianism. Most schools of architecture came to emphasize the history of modernism as part of its core epistemological project (…) theory failed to critique the important institutional changes within the world of history/theory, the most important being the split between Modernism and Tradition, and now, more recently, Modernism and Pre-modernism
  • Theory—in whatever formation— failed to adequately address the digital until it was too late.
  • Theory—in whatever formation— failed to deal with the humanitarian crisis of the twenty-first century and still struggles with issues of violence and trauma (…) e need to recognize that normative theoretical systems do exist, they are just not called history/theory.2 They go by other names such as preservation, digital architecture, modern architecture, sustainability, pre-modernism, etc (…)  the very success of the last decades is now coming to haunt the system, creating immobile boundaries that mitigate against interdisciplinarity. Advanced scholars who now work in the domain of “history/theory” do indeed often bridge into the realm of political science, anthropology, colonial studies, philosophy, geography, and other disciplines in the humanities. But whereas these other fields have made strong and important inroads into developing critical positions, architecture as an educational platform has in the last decades moved in the opposite direction, cleaning out its curriculum from disciplinary entanglements, placing the entire weight of that operation on the narrow ledge of “history/theory.” (…) To make matters worse, many elite schools decided to follow the neoliberal model of labor by tenuring only a few people and farming out the rest of its curriculum to hired guns who had little vested interest in—and no power to—transform the curriculum

Excerpts from: The School of Architectural Scandals, written by Mark Jarzombek, full article available here

Image available here

Dialogic-Dialectic

BAKHTIN

the skills of listening to others becomes as important as making clear statements/ the good listener has to respond to intent, to suggestion, for the conversation to keep moving forward/ the difference between the two terms is not a matter of either/or. the heart of it all lies in picking up on concrete details, on specifics, to drive a conversation forward. Bad listeners bounce back in generalities when they respond; they are not attending to those small phrases, facial gestures or silences which open up a discussion.

Dialectic: the verbal play of opposites should gradually build up to a synthesis (…) the Aristotelian notion that although we use the same words, we cannot say we are speaking of the same things (..) the aim is to come to a mutual understanding (…) the listener elaborates the assumption by putting it into words (…) in the Socratic notion, the echo is actually a displacement

Dialogic: first coined by Mikhail Bakhtin to name a discussion which does not resolve itself by finding a common ground (…) though no shared agreements may be reached, through the process of exchange people may become more aware of their own views and expand their understanding of one another (..) knitted together but divergent exchange (…) a dialogic conversation can be ruined by too much identification with the other person.

Excerpts from Richard Sennett’s book, Together: The Rituals & Politics of Cooperation, 2012, London: Penguin Books (pages 18-20)

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Unraveling the relationship between learning and reflection

critical_reflection_diagram_600_408

a deep approach is where the intention of the learner is to understand the meaning of the material/ a surface approach to learning is where a learner is concerned to memorise the material for what it is/ between the two there is a continuum with an hierarchy of stages:

  • noticing: representation is reproduction
  • making sense: representation is coherent reproduction
  • making meaning: representation is of ideas that are integrated and well linked (beginnings of deeper approach)
  • working with meaning: representation is reflective, well structured and demonstrates the linking of material with other ideas which may change as a result
  • transformative learning: representation demonstrates strong restructuring of ideas and ability to evaluate the processes of reaching that learning

REFLECTION has a role in the deeper approaches/ we learn from representing learning/ we upgrade learning/ Reflection:

  • slows down activity, giving the learner time to process
  • helps the learners to develop greater ownership of the learning material
  • it encourages meta-cognition
  • works with materials that are complicated and ill structured and helps students improve their cognitive ability

 

References

Moon, J., 2001. PDP Working Paper 4: Reflection in Higher Education Learning. In LTSN Generic Centre, full article available here

Image is Kolb’s circle Experiential Learning concept (1984) available here

Profiling teachers in the DS

DS CRIT

Teachers:

  • experienced designers but only rarely expert educators
  • teachers are not trained as teachers and rarely receive thorough, relevant feedback regarding their teaching performance/ design teachers, like other educators in academic institutions, are appointed on the basis of their professional knowledge and skills and receive all but no training as teachers
  • they bring knowledge, professional skills, theory in use, personalities, values and their understanding of their role
  • Quayle classification: instructor as source of authority/ as facilitator/ as “buddy”
  • Webster classification
  • Uluoglu reports that 47% of the design teachers in several schools consider their educational (pedagogic) capacity to be the single most important factor in their work
  • Schon: the studio master tries to figure out what the student understands/ constructs a dialogue in the media of words and performance/ tries to make interventions matched to the student’s understanding

Using linkography*, Goldschmidt examines three cases of teacher-student interaction during a crit. Her conclusions are that the teachers:

  • must navigate among categorical action priorities that suit the student’s needs and his or her own tendencies
  • must raise issues and sustain ideas at both a general and a specific level preferably while demonstrating and modeling for the student what can be done and how
  • must do everything without making the students feel that the teachers are designing their project for them
  • issues raised must be made relevant to students by tying them to students’ concepts
  • must give examples
  • must not put pressure on students to come up with “correct” notions
  • must not let the student feel that they know sth the students don’t have access to
  • coaching seems to be the most fruitful strategy in this sample of investigation

 

References

Goldschmidt, G., Hochman, H., Dafmi, I., 2010. The design studio “crit”: Teacher-student communication. In Artificial Intelligence for Engineering Deisgn, Analysis and Manufacturing, 24, pp. 285-302, doi:10.1017/S089006041000020X

Image available here

Linkography: is a notation and analysis system that treats links among protocol units. It is based on the premise that the proportion and distribution of links among units, and in particular, units that are highly interlinked with other units, are indicative of the quality of important characteristics of the situation under scrutiny

Jean Labatut

Labatut-with-Nun

Labatut understood the architect to be a visual artist who, in order to be effective, should learn not just the academic rules of composition but also the commercial and popular techniques of visual communication. But the architect’s promiscuity with crass commercialism was justified only, advised Labatut, to elevate it to a high spiritual art. He taught students that buildings were the organization of attention. Good buildings engaged people, sustained their intellectual and spiritual curiosity, and communicated meaningful experiences to them. Through his students, Labatut’s teachings helped shape postmodern architecture and promoted the view that the best way to understand this new architecture was to experience it. Labatut’s success as a teacher rested on the clarity of his message: before architects could create modern buildings , they had to first be able to experience buildings in a modern way. His pedagogy aimed to define this modern experience as a bodily communion with architecture, which was immediately meaningful and did not require intellectual reflection. Architectural phenomenology was formed against the background of Labatut’s teachings. Indeed, the emergence and career of architectural phenomenology cannot be properly understood without bringing Labatut from under the shadow of the generation that followed his.

Labatut liked to say that his architectural education began during World War I when, as a nineteen-year old , he served in the French Army Corps of Engineers and worked on the project to camouflage the Grand Canal of Versailles (…) Through the artists of the Service de camouflage, Labatut was exposed to some of the most advanced contemporary visual art theory. He quickly learned the practical application of cubist notions about the visual dissolution of mass through contour and object matching (…) This was a defining experience for Labatut. It turned his attention to buildings as material to be shaped by the visual artist, persuaded him that the visual arts were not simply meant to delight but also to be socially useful, and forged his sense of an indissoluble bond between advanced technology, progressive society, and avant-garde art.

 

References

Otero-Pailos, J., 2010. Eucharistic Architecture: Jean Labatut and the Search for Pure Sensation. In Architecture’s Historical Turn: Phenomenology and the Rise of the Postmodern. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Retrieved April 11, 2018, from Project MUSE database, available here

Image available here

The future that is now, by S. Allen

neuromancer-gibson-banner.jpgStan Allen’s text was originally in Architecture School: Three Centuries of Educating Architects in North America and later published in Places magazine

The 1990s in particular were characterized in part by the rejection of history and the announcement of massive, technology-driven change; these claims need to be examined and placed in context. The introduction of the computer has indeed made the design studio a very different place than it was in 1990s (…) Questions provoked by global urbanization, economic instability and increasing awareness of the environmental crisis have spurred a rethinking of design methodologies and the potential of cross-disciplinary work (…) in architecture and industrial design a hands-on, activist culture has arisen, often working with a pragmatic mix of simple technology and global distribution networks to enact change in the developing world. The environmentalism of the 1960s has also been revived, now seen through the lens of landscape, ecology and building performance (…) the decade began in an atmosphere of uncertainty and transition (…) The year 1990 is also significant for the development and implementation of digital technology. The underlying architecture of the World Wide Web was proposed in 1989, tested in 1990-91, and released to the public in 1992 (…) In architectural practice the territory was divided between the large corporate offices, still responsible for the majority of commercial work, and a smaller number of high-design practices (…) A pair of conferences, both later published as books, may stand for the state of American architectural theory and discourse in 1990 (…) The tendency for architecture theory at the end of 1980s to open itself to other disciplines was also evident in a second example, the “Fetish” conference that took place at Princeton University, also in 1988 (…) What is significant about all this is not simply the appeal to other disciplines per se, but the general scope and direction of the references. Architecture was not alone in looking to cultural studies and literary criticism for its theoretical models (…) Throughout the 1980s and early ’90s the divide between theory and practice grew. Critical practice aligned itself with film, new media and installation art. And in turning to literary criticism, philosophy and cultural studies for its theoretical models, architecture minimized its operative, technical capacity (…) Yet the greater momentum for change came in response to technological developments (…) So the early formal experimentation soon gave way to a new set of questions. Was it possible actually to build the complex forms that the computer could so readily generate? (…) In schools today there are two complementary directions with regard to digital work. First, as the widespread availability of inexpensive, easy-to-learn digital technology has made the computer’s impact more tangible and immediate (…) As a result, designers are now turning their attention to the computer’s strategic and operative potential (…) The second direction emerging today is an emphasis on sophisticated applied research in computation. Scripting, robotics and parametric design are the focus of this new research and are beginning to find a place in schools, especially at the doctoral level (…) “Does architectural ‘research’ constitute a new form of practice? What is the relationship between your research, writing (if applicable) and your design work?” (…) It appeared, at the time, that the closer academics have approached the protocols of university research, the more they have distanced themselves from the real concerns of active, creative practitioners (…) But the past two decades have seen a shift toward collaborative, practice-based research (…) If these research-based initiatives have maintained an academic focus, then landscape urbanism, which emerged in the schools in the late 1990s, has aimed to revitalize urban design practice. It has also provided an interesting test case of the potential of interdisciplinary work (…) Today collaborative work, while still resisted, is becoming more common, and issues of landscape, ecology and large-scale urbanism are addressed in interdisciplinary design studios (…) Architecture’s ongoing engagement with interdisciplinary theoretical work, and the increased emphasis on doctoral programs, is visible in the number of scholars and historians heading up schools and departments (…) A new model of alternative practice has also emerged and is being reinforced in the schools. Based not so much on critical commentary as on activism, it involves highly pragmatic, hands-on architectural and product designs that can be quickly implemented in places like developing countries and disaster areas (…) The most effective of these current efforts work with product design and community activism more than architecture, suggesting yet another realignment of architectural expertise

 

When we look back over the past 20 years of architecture education, three overriding tendencies stand out. The first is the shifting relationship between the profession and the schools (…) a climate of increasing pluralism. Clearly no single design direction dominates today (…) Complicating the climate of pluralism is the leveling effect of new technologies and the tensions between the global and the local. Not only are there more choices out there; the differences among them are ever smaller

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Bricolage as a design methodology

BRICOLAGE_Scorched-Earth-2006

Bricolage implies that :

  • design is in crisis: the standard social science methods are not well adapted to the new realities of global complexity which contains new concepts that they define, such as the “multiple“, the “distributed” and the “emotional“/ design research has relied on established methods from other disciplines however, it is not  about the variety of methods available as it is about the hegemonic and dominatory pretensions of certain versions or accounts of method/ some methods, although extremely good, fail to appropriate the ephemeral, the indefinite and the irregular/ educationally that has resulted in a refocusing on understanding how design can address social, economic and political issues; what kind of future world we want to live in/ understand-improve-apply the practice of design has become what is the nature of design? (Law + Urry)
  • designs is undisciplined: it has always had to draw knowledge from other disciplines, initially through a lack of existing subject knowledge and lately due to a refocusing on larger, more difficult social issues/ Buchanan: design is the last liberal art, meaning a discipline of thinking that may be shared to some degree by all men and women in their daily lives and is in turn mastered by a few people who practice the discipline with distinctive insight and sometimes advance it to new areas of innovative applications/ design acts as an agent of change due to design’s ability to synthesize understanding from the natural world with understanding of the human condition/ the SEVEN ROLES of the designer: facilitator-researcher-co-creator-communicator-strategist-capability builder-enterpreneur (Buchana, Banerjee, Fry)
  • design is maturing: the study of the discipline is scientifically based and the accumulated knowledge is subject to criticism/ the practice of the discipline is unrestricted as to the area of application/ both study and practice give active consideration to the social problems and ramifications/ there is a growing number of phds and a growing number of related journals and conferences/ design can only exist outside its disciplinary boundaries to be effective (Kernan)

 

References

Yee, J.S.R., Bremner, C., 2011. Methodological Bricolage – What does it tell us about Design? In Doctoral Design Education Conference, 23-25 May 2011, Hong Kong Polytechnic, Hong Kong, available here

Image available here