12 November 2015

Week 11: Research Methodologies

"Too often, contemporary practice oscillates between mechanical repetition and shallow novelty. Conventional practice renounces theory, but in so doing, it simply reiterates unstated theoretical assumptions. It works according to a series of enabling codes, which themselves comprise a random sampling of the dictates of professional practice and the learned habits of normal design culture. It is these unexamined codes that give practice a bad name. The protocols of normal practice may be modified or adapted in response to circumstance, but are rarely challenged." from Practice: Architecture, Technique and Representation by Stan Allen. 
Why do you think that the boundaries and limits of code are rarely examined in theory, and almost never pushed in practice?

2.   Do you think that the codes that practice live by should be examined more closely, or do you feel that this system of rules should be treated as concrete, and therefore true innovation comes from successfully navigating these codes?

"If conventional practice and theoretically driven critical practices are similarly structured, it cannot be a question of going beyond theory, or of leaving theory behind. What is proposed here is instead a notion of practice flexible enough to engage the complexity of the real, yet sufficiently secure in its own technical and theoretical bases to go beyond the simple reflection of the real as given. Not a static reflection of concepts defined elsewhere (either the codes of professional practice or the dictates of ideologically driven theory) but a rigorous forward movement, capable of producing new concepts out of the hard logic of architecture’s working procedures." from Practice: Architecture, Technique and Representation by Stan Allen.
Do you believe that what the author is proposing is possible in today's world? Do you know of any architects or projects that have attempted or succeeded in this regard?

"Why do we—the architectural academic community at large—ask students to do a thesis if most practicing architects do not work in this manner? Only some architects practice by grounding series of projects through individual theses. Nonetheless, we insist on testing the students’ abilities at this mode of working before they conclude their studies. And therefore, we continue to contradict ourselves when we present the thesis as the stepping stone for a future architect to project his/her understanding of what architecture is through how he/she believes that it should be practiced by only allowing students to follow one of the possible models of practice, the thesis." from How to Do a Thesis: Practice Models as Instigators for Academic Theses by Sergio López-Piñeiro
Why do you think, that with the problems with the problems the author describes, the exploration of code, (or other factors of traditional practice) in the theoretical realm isn't more commonly pushed for in architectural academia?

"Architecture itself is marked by this promiscuous mixture of the real and the abstract: at once a collection of activities characterized by a high degree of abstraction, and at the same time directed toward the production of materials and artifacts that are undeniably real. The techniques of representation are never neutral, and architecture’s abstract means of imagining and realizing form leave their traces on the work." from Practice: Architecture, Technique and Representation by Stan Allen.
Do you agree that the techniques of representation can never be neutral? If not why?

6.  On design intelligence:
"On the one hand, it recognizes that architects and other design professionals possess a specific form of expertise, a synthetic and projective capacity unique to their own discipline. In this sense, it implies the thoughtful application of that expertise to problems specific to architecture. On the other hand,.. it implies that architects need to be open to the “chatter” of the world outside of their own field, and alert to new ways of interpreting, and putting that information to work... With immense quantities of information now simultaneously available, it is no longer access to information that counts, but the ability to process, organize, and visualize information that is crucial." from Practice: Architecture, Technique and Representation by Stan Allen
With new technological advancement in design software, parametric design, BIM, etc., do you feel that architects and firms that are resilient to embrace this technology are showing a lack of design intelligence?

7.  Do you think that it is possible to stay innovative in architectural practice and/or theory without embracing these new technologies, or is the ability, "to process, organize, and visualize information" the only crucial requirement?

"Material practices must be robust, information-dense, and open to change and revision. Its practitioners realize that the new reality of technology and the city is one of continual obsolescence, and that the only way to survive change is to change." from Practice: Architecture, Technique and Representation by Stan Allen.
There are two trains of thought: One being that there is no such thing as new architecture, and the most effective methods of design already exist. The other being - as stated above - that, "the only way to change is to change." Which do you agree with? Is it possible for both to be true or would that be paradoxical?

"De Certeau understood that there can never be a perfect correspondence between the regulated geometrical structure of the planned city and the unruly practices it supports. The city’s inhabitants are always ready to take advantage of this mismatch between structure and performance. This in turn suggests that the control exercised by any disciplinary regime can never be total. Resistance will find other pathways around, or under, or through, the constraints imposed from outside, pathways that lead away from transgression, catastrophic overthrow, withdrawal or retreat." from Practice: Architecture, Technique and Representation by Stan Allen.
Do you believe there is a way to design space that can effectively counter this resistance or do you think a better method might be to design in a way that embraces this resistance?

"Consistency and rationality are guaranteed by the hard logic of structure, and by the indifferent behavior of materials themselves. In the case of Wright, the rational behavior of structure is not an absolute fact to be given material expression, but an opportunity and a resource — a point of provisional stability to be freely handled. The measure of Wright’s “mastery” of the terms of building is as much his knowledge of where and when to compromise, as in any mythic appeal to integrity and the 'truth to materials'." from Practice: Architecture, Technique and Representation by Stan Allen. 
Do you agree with the author's statement about compromise? Is this contradictory to anything talked about previously in the discussion?

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