Volume III: The Recovery of Meaning

August 23, 2011 § 1 Comment

The Lateral Articulation of Meaning

‘relationships can be seen as degrees of articulation, each of which is a corresponding part of a single spectrum or range’. 

David Leatherbarrow

The work collected in this volume represents an interest in how meaning is carried in the articulation of human situations. We are interested in architecture that operates as a framework for human action; in rooms that orientate inhabitation with respect to cultural and natural horizons; in relationships articulated by urban artefacts or equipment (furniture); and in the iconographic representation of use (permanent statues and ritual objects). One working definition of meaning could be that it sits somewhere between the orchestration of use and performance, and crystallised representation….

Download Volume III here (copyright Methexis Press/University of Nottingham)


Dialogue or collaboration?

September 2, 2010 § Leave a comment

The cultural richness that once made Leonardo’s Paragone possible quickly waned in the wake of the 18th century separation of natural science and fine art into competing systems of knowledge, leaving architects to contend with ‘gaps’ and fragments of unity.  Arguably these gaps are the cause of much uncertainty in a discipline that, weakened through autonomy is enriched by engagement and multidisciplinary praxis.  If traditional architectural treatises that once took art and science to be intertwined skills held together by a higher order of design intelligence are difficult to conceive in our present culture, what valid mode of discourse remains to assist architects think through the future continuity of art and science?  This paper does not support the view that systematic methods are easily transposed onto architecture in order to reduce its unpredictable phenomena to stable predictable facts.  Contemporary thought is sufficiently mature to realise that the generalisation of specialist knowledge, instrumentality and expertise always leaves something out.  The ongoing challenge to architecture today is therefore how to re-articulate the relational space between art and science in a way that enhances their symbiosis within design.  Symbolism, metaphor, analogy and geometrical abstraction once supplied architecture and creative discourse with intermediate links and devices, but what other tactics are available to the architect today?  The primary objective of the paper is to recover traditional dialogue as a legitimate and meaningful mode in this regard.  Secondly, the paper critically differentiates dialogue from its more contemporary version, collaboration, with which it is often confused.  The question at stake is whether the now ubiquitous notion of collaborative practice can actually fulfil the purposes of mediation and enrichment associated with dialogical intelligence, or is it yet another functional adjunct for streamlining technique and labour?

Download the complete paper here (Copyright Darren Deane 2010)

Volume II: Praxis

July 27, 2010 § Leave a comment


The distinction between academic research, design teaching and professional practice is now a thing of the past. The view that the studio realm is somehow a less-intelligent sphere than the book-lined interior restricts the potentially rich interplay that can often between the two. If design and textual knowledge are seen not as opposites but as intertwined ‘research modalities’, then insights originating within the concentrated ‘thick space’ of the studio environment can easily become the potential ground out of which intellectual analysis and interpretation can be drawn.

A recent example of this reciprocity is the pedagogical research into the problem of integration that has emerged directly from the work of the third year Lateralisms unit contained – amongst other things – in this volume. Not only is this an example of studio-driven design research, but it also demonstrates that teaching can both instigate a research topic and provide theory with an essential feedback loop (the studio as ‘weak laboratory’). Divided into three parts (making, discourse and research), this volume juxtaposes staff and student output in order to communicate the potential continuities that can occur between design research (the oral culture of studio) and scholarly writing.

Darren Deane & Adrian Ball

Download Volume II here

Volume I: Intense-Immense Rooms

June 26, 2010 § Leave a comment


Lateral can refer to many things including peripheral field, overlooked surfaces and ‘edge programme’. It can also point to qualities which fall below the radar of a prevailing ‘scopic regime’. Our pursuit of non-retinal architecture goes beyond visual spectacle in order to develop a subtle yet powerful material language. The research of the studio involves a radical reinterpretation of the ‘public building’ in the widest sense. We are curious about, and would like to wrestle with, the theoretical and philosophical problem of how public buildings perform in light of the following statement by David Leatherbarrow from the University of Pennsylvania:

“When the building is freed from technological and aesthetic intentionalities, we discover its lateral connections… [Public] performance in architecture unfolds within a milieu that is not of the building’s making. A name for this milieu is topography, indicating neither the built nor the un-built world, but both. Three characteristics of topography sustain the building’s performativity: its wide extensity, its mosaic heterogeneity, and its capacity to disclose previously latent potentials. There is always more to [urban or non-urban] topography than what might be viewed at any given moment. Excess is implied in its ambience, for what constitutes the margins of perceptual concentration always exceeds the expectations of that focus.”

(Architecture’s Unscripted Performance)

Download Volume I here