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)

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