(As published in KRVIA Reflection 2018)
Monday, March 18, 2019
ACADEMICS OF TECHNOLOGY:
The word “academics” and “technology”, if independently dissected through epistemological perspective, perhaps the manifestation that emerges out could be compartmentalized and self-contained, however the academics of technology together as a singular entity allows to resonates paradigmatic shift from the technology as means to technology as a way, it allows to bring about the scholastic attitude towards shaping the academics based on technology. If the academics is the representative of didactic end in terms of the technological, sociological and ideological manifestation than academics of technology is an attitude towards technology, from belief and ideological point of view.
The technology based pedagogy is spoken recursively in heavy accent, historically as well as contemporary times, within the academics. It is perhaps often represented the view of advanced technocrats, who are trained internationally or those who views technology as primarily a discursive and prescriptive imagination of architecture or those who believes that technology as an unnoticed subject to the cult of protagonist of design or those who are trained as an architect but incompetent into internalization of the modalities of architectural thinking. In all the cases there is an impatient emergence of unnoticed ideological cult that is imagined to be as triumphant in architectural academics. The appeal towards technology within such circumstances is not necessarily an academics one, but rather entitlement one, which is tending towards an endorsement of subject, without search for pedagogic mean. The truth in the description above is perhaps not fully sharp enough and it can’t still be isolated within the wings of criticism. The truth lies in the divide that has been created within the architectural education by virtue of technology as a subject that trails the design and design domain is outside the scope of technology or technology domain is design resolution. This divide has not only build the discipline barrier but also build the cult of technologists that are comfortable enough in the production of similar language so that such academics have produced historically are so monolithic, unimaginative & repetitive and continue to do so in contemporary times.
IN BETWEEN ACADEMICS
The operative fault line here is between those described as mainstreamed of multi-disciplinarian design thinkers with world view and those who see themselves towards the cultural of technocrats as mainstream of solution providers. The academics that happen between such conditions largely determine the limited discourse on technology and shape the future professionals. The multi-disciplinarian world-view thinkers & cultural of technocrats mainstream as solution providers stand for self-loathing that challenges and dismantle the relationship that are imperative to be central to architectural discussion i:e design and technology. Such situation of pedagogic imagination produces the strange Cartesian coordinates, where multi-disciplinarian world-view thinkers moves from margin (global architecture) to central (technology), where adaptation and contextualize process is replaced by solution driven ideas (example Parametric or sustainability or green building technology). If one takes liberty to use the same framework, it is not exaggeration to state that the any discussion on academics based on technology in Indian context, not only imagined to brings sense of dis-comfort but also, often, illegitimatize the process as design pedagogy. The divide is deeper and cultural one, which is propelling and informing many academic debates of our times, which in turns produces the chauvinistic culture of academic, and accolades self to be an intellectual with moral superiority which empowers to pass judgment on the architectural pedagogy.
If the argument could be taken forward for better understanding of the width of disparity, the designer world view employs the standards that are often out of context and discriminating in nature (user, gender, religious practices, culture and social practices), while technology point of view this aspects are marginal and not culturally aligned with the standards of technology that are being professed since the emergence of an architectural education in India. The progressive thoughts and regressive prescriptions are never meant to align to the contemporary needs and envisioning future, in turn it never serves towards collective didactic end. The entire architectural education thrives on pockets of ideological patronage that has been historically created and professed, in turn the architectural education with respect to design & technology is now loaded with cynicism and platitudes towards each other.
BEYOND IN BETWEEN
Having argued the disparity within the disciplines and issues in reconciliation of various domains, it is perhaps time to discuss the position that institute needs to align itself so as to allow resolution of all the forces of technology and its responsibility towards architectural education and society at large. There are few fundamental questions that needs to address first prior to any attempt in reconciliation process. This is absolutely becoming imperative to address as architecture profession has never been challenged than in contemporary times to attempt to re-orient the historically evolved insight into technology and nature of praxis.
To substantiate the argument of re-orientation, it is necessary to state forth the example from history where such relationships are understood and allowed it to develop as large part of architectural pedagogy. The trained architect Jean - Nicholas – Louis Durand (1760 – 1834) attempted to evolve within the standard curriculum. He argued that the architectural education is not enough to evolve with complete architect but it has capabilities to develop an attitude towards architecture and nature. He developed didactic material based on the principles that are originated form the post-revolutionary, proto-industrial approach. These ideas were combined with the systematization of the process of architectonic composition through methodical approach. The whole experimentation is not to standardize but to develop the typological innovation which has capabilities to demonstrate the alternate combination possibilities. Such pedagogy allowed demonstrating the production of walls into skeletons, monolithic structure into ribbed structure and support versus infill types of construction which dictated the technology for many decades. His contribution had been decisive, theoretically and most importantly methodological shift in paradigm towards the “immaterialization” of the structural systems and tending towards conceptual one. The Durand case is not for demonstration of new technology but to articulate the argument that any sustained models embedded within history need viewing from the condition of time with different perspective, in order to determine the diverse possibilities with continuous reflection for the development of new didactic models or school of thought.
Beyond between means unraveling the time frozen paradigm, re-looking at history as history of ideas, it is necessary to build discourse, role of history and its imperatives, so that the pedagogy within the architectural education is dynamic and well within the reach of its didactic end.
KRVIA AND TECHNOLOGY
In order to expand the conversation on discourse on technology, it is imperative to understand the divide of realm of world view and culture of technology within the existing system in defining role of architecture as profession. Over and above the endless divide of two domains, there seem several parallel realms within each domain due to several factors. The most debated one which in particular pushes the technology based conversation to margin is the school of thought or ideological condition which determines the nature of architecture pedagogy and its embedded conditions with respect to technology. The characteristics of an architectural inquiry and research paradigm has shifted considerably from design discourse to urban discourse, while technology is dragging the baggage of redundant and outdated forms of content and method. The neither realms is able to be consistent and synchronized with the nature of inquiry system and modes of production of architectural manifestation. To strengthen the argument, the technology is divided based on the material conditions which are engineering domain while the architectural inquiry is always within the realm of sociological and cultural dimension of urbanism.
In order to pull the sociological and cultural perspective, where any conceptual development of tools that are necessitated for architectural end is rather superseded by inquiry that are remotely connected to architecture, while any attempt to have manifestation such ideas in technological perspective is far from reality, on other side technology continues to work around the colonial method of “trace the template”. In other words the role of technology is reduced to a subject and not the overall part of architectural discourse.
ANATOMY OF TECHNOLGY
Technology has capacity to produces a well-defined world view thinking and cultured attitudes towards the manifestation. The technology needs further articulation and embedded conditions in plural sense. Such conditions are possible only when it blurs its regimented boundary of solution provider to disciplinarian entrepreneur. One of the possible ways to pave the path for embedded condition of technology within architectural pedagogy is about creating interdependencies. The interdependencies model enables the theory, practice and research outside the core domain with multiple variables to determine the interpersonal understanding of core. The relationships between design and technology are not mutually exhaustive rather it’s a symbiotic one where enables in creating new systems and values which is whole lot of social and cultural enterprise that determine the evolutionary and sustenance conditions.
The idea and responsibilities of technology is not just limited to the acquisition of methods or the technology means not just limited to techniques and tools, it is about cutting across the disciplines. To elaborate the idea of technology as key concept in abstract sense or in conceptual terms, it is about cultural, sociological as much as technological. The compartmental description of technology weakens the integration and interdependencies process and turn technology into a subject of consumption rather than discipline of praxis. The recent research in technology has argued out the term “appropriate” instead of “absolute/ standard”, it means the generic concept of technology is systematically replaced by context based appropriate technology. The appropriate technology is focusing on idea of various forms of technology, ranging from low tech, high tech, frugal to domesticated technology. The larger idea behind such dissemination of scale is meant to understand technology from its traditional terms, intermediate technology to advanced technologies. The scaling of technological ideas allow the research ranging from localized frugal technology embedded into the realm socio cultural dimension of innovation to intermediate technology being to negotiate the socio/cultural dimension and engineering domain while the high key technology begins to implement the third tier of tools and conceptualization. Hence the conceptual framework shall enable the value of a technology be continuously evolved and consolidated by the social, cultural, economic and political milieu.
Technology is a body of knowledge that integrates and enables the process of making at various scales. The ideas of material based technology and framework based are tools that allow the model to expand into the newer territories for collaboration. Within this definition of technology has possibilities to contextualize and appropriated within certain geography and time frame.
Thursday, March 14, 2019
There are some simple terms that we often use to frame the pedagogy for architectural education. The simple terms are sometimes confused with many other terms. The elaborative work on architectural theory across the time have propagated some of the larger concerns emanating from some simple ideas and words. The thought and trouble with such theoretical terms are in our inability to articulate the difference among several terms. It is necessary for an institute to articulate the some of the basic difference among the few terms that we often use as tool or concepts as teaching material.
It is also necessary to understand the configuration of these terms that enables one with larger architectural thinking processes and architectural debate. This is true to the fact that, every act of design and discussion is also theoretical positioning of self and context. The architectural theory is more than unfathomable text and every institute must articulate and make it as vital component of architectural pedagogy.
These components are fundamental to the foundation from which architecture as practice or discipline asserts a particular position or establish larger value system of architecture. It is through such analogical structure one develops the alignment to architectural thinking and critical edge. The terms and its definition shall be discussed in subsequent blog.
Tuesday, March 5, 2019
“The aim of the latter-day Avant garde is either to validate itself through media or alternatively, to redeem its guilt by executing the rite of creative exorcism in isolation.”
The Japanese architect Arata Isozaki’s work could best be explained in terms of theoretical in-between conditions or ambivalent in nature that most of the architecture desirous to move away from. Those conditions are exemplified in terms of mannerist to austerity, explosive utopia to repressed creativity, controlled architectonics to naïve & intoxicating casualness, reactionary to cultural nostalgia.
As a part of metabolist group in sixties (along with Kenzo Tange, Kurokawa, Kikutake etc), he appeared to have reacted to the alighting modernism in the context with reactionary imagination, longing for invigorate manifestation of the east. Later he chose to minimized his connections to metabolist group which seemingly appeared to adorned the exaggerated or overly utilitarian. The decline or disassociation with frantic futurist, gave rise to ideological emptiness, which in general described as being state of “Intellectual fatigue”. Yet the in-between state continues to dominate his work especially the Museum of Fine Arts, where formal expression are austere box with layered spaces with fluid formal generosity. The architecture of the building brought in the rare freshness to the Japanese architecture. The building is perhaps not easy to decipher yet very dramatic experientially. It brings the in-betweenness of formal expanse to dense spatiality.
The other building that has demonstrated the similar formal responses in tandem with the western pre-occupation with “postmodern architecture” is building at Disney in Florida. The architecture brings about vivid scenography of an eclectic who is aspired to pushes the architectural representation to its formal limits. The MOMA building in Los Angeles revives his incomplete manifestation of formal, functional & representative which were explored in Museum of Fine Arts. The architecture of the building also brings about the in-between conditions austere to casual, naïve contextual to eclectic (application of Red Agra Stone, dressed in Japan). The MOMA building yet remains the finest and matured work that celebrates the in-between conditions, vividly embedded from user perspective yet seemingly embryonic in representation sense.
The large question that one restlessly would raise is the relevance or importance of his architecture in contemporary architectural paradigm. The architectural discourses that are entrapped between the expressionistic attitudes to situationist envision, the Isozaki work negotiates the extremities, it resonates the collage of time and memory, and it brings about naiveness architectural representation in critical manner in other word the mannerist striving for criticality of superficial.
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