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Imago Mundi: informal logics and design in the world

Gillick, Ambrose, Ivett, Lee (2019) Imago Mundi: informal logics and design in the world. In: AMPS Conference 2019 "Education, Design and Practice – Understanding skills in a Complex World", 17-19 June 2019, New York. (Unpublished) (KAR id:83184)

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Architectural education remains wedded to a model of design-production that foregrounds gods-eye-view design techniques which separate the designer from the synthetic values and desires of people in the world and the nitty-gritty of everyday life. This has advantages, of course, helping students develop intellectual ideas that transcend disciplinary borders and terrestrial constraints. However, design for and with actual people remains ambiguous (at best), relying instead on the precise articulation of a sort-of Vitruvian Person with clothes on, a cipher with only a passing resemblance to reality. Architectural educators thus serve as gatekeepers for a culture of architecture rooted in generalizations, by handing-on normative-abstract design processes by which ‘good’ architecture is seen to be produced. And whilst it has become something of a mantra to say that a more successful design education requires the development of programs which advance interdisciplinarity, agility and job-ready skills, in reality this too often seems to translate as little more than competence in IT graphics, some data analysis and a working knowledge of building regulations and u-Values. Recognized for many decades as a problem, reaction to such alienating practices have rarely gone beyond the romantic aestheticization of ‘otherness’, itself a further process of abstraction.

This paper describes Test Unit, a summer school in Glasgow, Scotland which proposes an an alternative approach to design education rooted in the logic of informality and marginal practices, guided by situated research methodologies. In contrast to other, alternative and live-build type programs, Test Unit’s pedagogical practice is towards nurturing alternative ways of seeing rather than ways of doing. Through processes of making and intervention which function to reveal the complexity of normative and discrepant realities of [a] place, this paper describes an educational approach which balances the abstract, cosmological endeavor of institutional architecture with the rooted, terrestrial world of everyday life.

Item Type: Conference or workshop item (Paper)
Uncontrolled keywords: architecture; architectural education; informality; situated practice
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > Kent School of Architecture and Planning
Depositing User: Ambrose Gillick
Date Deposited: 29 Sep 2020 11:24 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 14:15 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Gillick, Ambrose:
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