As one pursues his or her Journey through the many years of heir career and life as a designer, does one query in a theoretical manner, the limits of design within the human species itself? It is very obvious, that it has been thought of or considered, but to what extent have we come to analyze the limitation on design with regards to the mentioned specific- human species. Our ability to design has always been a commendable characteristic of human nature. Sometimes, it seems to me like designers almost take place of ‘The Creator – God’.
My experience over a semester in studio shows how we all think in different ways despite a common understanding on certain rules and criteria. Seventy two students and all of us came up with different design solutions to our design problem. Now, what exactly is the relativity of the question on limits of design to our design capabilities and theory one may wonder? The answer does not always have to be direct. However, as a design student, it’s perhaps important to put the point out there? As designers in the built environment, to what length do we evaluate design possibilities with regards to theory?
To what extent do we allow factors like theory and criticism to set boundaries in our way of thinking and creating? It seems to me at least, that heron and designing have a great relation. So what then? The inquisitiveness of my altruistic soul feels that as designers of the ‘contemporary age, we are in many ways bound to limits that are indirectly visible but most effectively affecting us as architects or designers in that nature, and it is theory. It is very important to note at this point, that theoretical anxieties have been a beneficial aspect in the built environment.
However, it is perhaps time to ponder on how a beneficial aspect could be harmful at the same time as a result of our choice on what we use. We are all deemed to thinking about design in arms of theory, history and criticism. As designers, do we really bow to limitations? If yes, then is our work said to be timid? But, if not, isn’t theory and in fact history our first limits. I find both theory and history of architecture to be the most valuable contribution to my architectural education. Just to go back to the beginning of the semester when my instructor, Mr..
Christenson started off the first day of class by asking us a question of what ‘catalytic’ meant, I did think that I would either fail this class, or maybe Just drop it. Who exactly would have thought of that word at eight in the morning? Well e did. I obviously, had no idea what it meant. I eventually found out that it meant to provoke’. And I think that is exactly what he did; he indirectly provoked my thinking on architecture with that word, then on. Today, I find myself questioning almost everything in architecture. So, does that make me a theorist?
Does that now, become a threat to my thinking as an architect? At his point in time, I was still unsure of myself. I believed that theory should not be introduced as an option to design, because that confines our thinking to a certain way. I argued that theory should be fashioned as a response to design. The bigger question was, if designing helped the evolution of theory, so why is it now that we allow theory to dictate our creative minds. Shouldn’t we be allowing design to explain itself in terms of theory? As related it may seem, my speculation about theory is very well exampled by Peter Gamesman.
As Rafael Money explains in his book, Theoretical Anxiety and Design Strategies, “An express desire to make theory precede practice characterizes the work of an architect like Peter Gamesman. ” This clearly proved what I was trying to question; the notion of having theory to destine design. Gamesman spent a lot f his time studying and understanding his designs through process, something which we are constantly being pushed to comprehend. This is a truly valid example because; Gamesman has clearly made a great contribution to the architectural culture.
In contrast, Seaman’s processes, and idea of theory preceding design didn’t really work out as much as we thought it would have. His practice and attitude on creating architecture ended up hurting his own designs. According to Money, it was not till the start of the eighties that Gamesman realized the discourse of abstract architecture which exhausted itself. And as a exult, he had to look for other options to what the others were doing, which opened his architecture to a whole new level. I believe that, we as humans tend to place restrictions to ourselves in the process of designing.
Which now, is an evidence to my point of argument, which is do we query the limits of design within the human species itself. I found an interesting statement by Sylvia Alvin on Abuses of Theory, where she claims, “Over the course of the last several years, the simple presence of theory in architecture has progressively been transformed into a complex pressure to theorize”. I think this is a clear summary hat as humans, we are constantly placing limits to ourselves, unintentionally. Limits, here are not bound to abiding to rules and codes, but the boundaries we set to our creative mind.
However, it is crucial to realize these limitations are purely a result of the choices we make. As a contrary to this, Michael Hays’s rebuttal to Sylvia statement says that, ‘architecture does not make architecture by itself but rather it is enabled, coerced, and constrained by complex historical determinants and ideological apparatuses that operate beyond the horizon of the individual designer’s “freedom” As the semester .NET on, I began to realize that Hays argument is indeed true. I began to open myself to new understandings of different architecture cultures.
At this Juncture of my education, I began to realize, that there are other options to our design ventures. The first thing I realized is the presence of evidence to my own argument. The most significant one to me is to realize that there is way more architects than I thought there are, who do what I have been proposing. Apparently I came to realize that, I have not been proposing something, but I have been speculating on something, which I personally had not dealt and mound the answer for. The fact that there are many architects, whom actually allow design to speak for it, surprised me.
Here, I eventually decided to drop the probability of limitation, because I hereby realize, limitations are not what it is, but it is culture- the architectural culture. Different practitioners have varied design cultures, and what I am suggesting out here about theory and design is one of them. It became increasingly interesting to me then to compare the two idealist point of views. I realized that Hay’s refutation was very true especially when we take Frank Gerry as a significant example. As Money explains Gerry, theory seemed to give way to an architecture that was explainable through the actual building work. Gerry conscious expediency, combined with his inventive way of dealing with materials and forms soon made him an undisputed reference. One of his distinct architecture to me, besides the Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, would be his own house in Santa Monica, California. The nature of the house where Gerry intentionally explores, dissects and displays its layers, and also how he opened the kitchen ceiling would perhaps to an ordinary person, be valued at the extreme, as something unlivable or atrocious.
However, due to the value given to it, he has successfully through his architecture created some sort of speculation within the architectural world and outside it. This in return would eventually become what Newest categorizes in her book, ‘Theorizing a New Agenda for Architecture’, as critical theory. If we go beyond Gerry who is relatively an older practitioner within the contemporaries, and look at works of Gushier Ban, who instead of working his way with forms, and creating speculation, he decided on materiality.
It is vital to actually also observe that the different architect’s way of irking around the whole idea of theory may or may not be intentional. Coming back to Ban’s idea of using recycled paper as structure is definitely a valuable creation in this age where sustainability is the prime value to architecture. How does this become of relevance to theory and the limits of design one could marvel. I think, the imperative question here is if it would have been possible for him to come up with such solution if boundaries were set ‘by him.
The fact that he not only created a recyclable material using paper and cardboard, but also waterproof and fire proof, gives critiques lesser opportunity to cogitate on his works. A clear distinction of a creation where limits are set aside and innovations are created. Ban’s works speaks to me loudest in the building of the Nomadic Museum. The fact that the museum travels tells me that he has successfully allowed his architecture to speculate itself in terms of theory- materially and structurally. As much as I would like to take this to go further, it is possible for me to actually use our own instructor, Mr..
Christenson, as a remarkable example. As an instructor for our theory class, no doubt, his knowledge about architecture is something a detent would have a tough time contemplating on. As I am approaching the end of the semester, I decided to read a paper he wrote for the Annual Conference of the Australian, New Zealand Architectural Science Association. I picked an interesting statement he made his paper ‘Testing the Relevance of Approximation’ which relates so much about the choices we make on questioning architecture.
Christenson writes in his paper, “… Researchers’ choice of study media limits the kinds of questions they can ask of architecture. ” Relating it back to the earlier part when I mentioned the options on choices we make n creating limits, this is undoubtedly a discrete statement about how choosing a media could influence or set boundaries to the questions researchers would ask, as a comparison to the limits we choose to set upon our thinking in the process of designing.
As I actually went back and forth on the various speculations about design possibilities with regards to theory, I have to make a note that at this point in time, my journey through my architectural education, especially in theory has come too rather mellow rhythm. And as I end my speculation on the ambiguities of theory on design possibilities, I