Various Trains of Thought on Architecture

In Theory class today, our discussion regarding Rem Koolhaas’ view of our generation’s preference for comfort over challenge was interesting and I need to let it percolate.  I will post more this coming weekend when I can breathe after midterm reviews; in the meantime, here are some thoughts that have been brewing in my mind over the past couple weeks…

  • Architecture is a confluence–of disciplines, concerns, individuals, skillsets, cultures, materials, methods, industries … Creates opportunities for collaboration and development of new knowledge, new fields, new materials, etc.
    • Materials embody this confluence–in their aggregation, makeup, development, history (both inherently in their molecular structure and in their use across time by varied cultures), associated trades
    • How does one critique such a confluence?  Confluence is a description that could encompass the most basic, horribly designed buildings.  How do we make value judgments about the use of materials?
  • Architecture is a conceptual framework within which an architect proposes a response, typically in the form of built work, to forces at work in a given environment–convergent and divergent, internal and external, abstract and physical–applying her experience and personal approach (i.e. together being craft) to the development of her response.  The architect is herself a force, applying her will to constituent forces and bringing equilibrium.
    • This view of architecture provides a framework within which to evaluate individual works–is the architect (consciously) responding to all the forces that are at play in the environment?  Does the architect allow certain forces to dominate at the expense of others?  If so, is that intentional?
    • But this view is still not a value judgment or a statement of belief as to what the role of architecture and the architect should be.  So I still need to develop my own thoughts regarding value and the basis for that thinking.
    • If for this class [Theory] I am looking for a project through which to express my understanding of architecture in terms of an architect’s response to forces, it would need to exemplify the different types of forces to which an architect might typically have to respond.  In addition it would need to embody my values–the force of my own will–as to what the response to the project and its environment should be.

I confess I am reluctant to take a particular stance regarding what architecture should be.  I have for so long been in sponge-mode, just trying to absorb all the knowledge and ways of thinking and designing with which I am being deluged.  But I have to accept that this is one of those things that I’m not going to “get right”; rather, my position will evolve over time, and it won’t be robust unless I put it out there, provide my reasoning and support, and allow it to be critiqued.  Then I can revise it and make it clearer and stronger–to myself and to others.  This is why I am pursuing design–because I won’t feel like I’m reaching my fullest potential unless I am really putting myself out there.  And I have to start somewhere.



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