Reading Architecture

Reading Architecture

Postby garethace » Tue Dec 16, 2003 8:52 pm

Question or debating point.

‘Reading Architecture’.

Sean O’ Laoire in a recent lecture has suggested that reading and writing about architecture in the 1980s descending into something like a degenerative disease. I would like to ask the forum, if this position needs to be re-visited. If indeed ‘Reading Architecture’, like reading any other subject in higher-level education can in fact, be a very valuable and useful way in which to spend ones limited time resources.

What has really sparked off my curiosity in this subject again, is that I am constantly aware of a growing ‘technological’ layer growing gradually on top of the profession of architecture as young people encounter it today – rather like a fungus would gradually colonise a block of cheese left in the refrigerator for far too long. I am serious, it is inherently possible to go ‘completely maggot-y’ for the shere want of both left and right brain usage in today’s architectural work environment.

I have personally gotten involved in far too many grand new visions of how to use IT in the architectural work environment. Indeed I have studied the history of Information technology in huge detail and I have come to one abiding conclusion. That the history of IT is a history filled with giant success stories and gigantic flops too. This notion of extreme success and failure, doesn’t really match very well into the economic and day-to-day, season-to-season business model of the architectural practice.

I suggest hereby that ‘reading architecture’ is one very good way for young practitioners to use their left brains. The context of the workplace in 2003, lends itself to far too much posturing about technology and computing. It is also a rather effective way of using limited time resources to grow and develop in ones thinking about ideas of space, time and architecture. Has anyone else had any thoughts or experiences with the current craze for more and more technology in the workplace?

Time is the fire we all burn in, years pass and how does one make any meaningful use of that precious resource in modern working times? A very old-fashioned solution to a modern day problem i know, but effective i think.
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Postby PVC King » Tue Dec 16, 2003 9:02 pm

Yes,

Every first year architecture student should have to design a standard Four panel internal door using a pencil paper and nothing else.

No mouldings or carvings could be used. If they are unable to come up with good proportion.
They may join the nail counters in QS or do engineering.

I am sick of hi-tech buildings where all perspective has been lost because the architects couldn't understand the basics of what constitues good basic symmetry
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Postby garethace » Tue Dec 16, 2003 9:07 pm

Which is part of my point, ching is a nice book to learn what the lines you are drawing on your sheets, might actually become something meaningful in terms of space, light and real experience.

But unfortunately, a lot of elevations and plans can easily become re-pros of current trendy line patterns. That is what gets built - irregardless of what it actually takes to 'make the line or shadow' in real materials.
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Postby PVC King » Tue Dec 16, 2003 9:09 pm

Agreed but if you have a good proportion it should translate, if you over concentrate on trendy 'Gizmo' techie features. You are in serious trouble along with others in this town
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Postby garethace » Tue Dec 16, 2003 9:16 pm

The trendy technie gizmo features I am referring to here, are also the trendy new-age IT infrastructure that many architectural practices are trying to cope with today. Often employing the young people who are still just undergraduates to show them 'how to use things'.

I mean, work experience was always meant to be about the undergraduate learning from the well versed and well practiced. Yet this is increasingly not the case. As many older architects are finding young people they 'take on' excellent tutors in all things, IT, techie and trendy.

I call it the 3DSMAX factor. But it can have a devastating impact upon young peoples abilty to grow and learn productively about design and architecture. I am writing this sitting beside a 10 year old who knows more about his computer than I did only 5 years ago!

You see my point? I am trying to argue that Sean's assumption that reading about architecture is a waste of time, is out of context today. Because reading about architecture is I feel, a useful kind of left brain activity to that of showing a forty-year-old sucessful principal architect employer how to find the power button on his new laptop!
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Postby PVC King » Tue Dec 16, 2003 9:58 pm

I agree entirely,

But a clever architect designs well accessible ducts so that all that tech stuff becomes the engineers problem. Allowing practitioners the opportunity to do what architects do best design buildings that win awards.

One can never ignore advances in IT, one can never believe every claim made in a tech magazine NASDAQ at 5000 I don't think so

So if it a question of what is most important in order it is

External Appearance materials and proportion

Internal Lighting

Adaptability to future technologies

Current technologies

Take a look at the german Wert V valuation law. In that country auctioneers are like carsalesmen

Architects do the valuations based on Depreciated Replacement Cost,

It is a real incentive to get it right.
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Postby garethace » Wed Dec 17, 2003 6:06 pm

I think that as soon as an architect claims to know very much, or become very expert about anything, (s)he is in danger of going down a wrong direction.

I mean to design using computers and build a virtual model of how the building will work demands the designer to know the proceedure very well. To have a detailed, well worked out and expert knowledge about all kinds of systems, dimensions etc.

Now the place where an architect starts from, isn't 'knowing alot of stuff' and applying that stuff. But the architect tends to know very little and from that point work towards an answer.

You could not, for instance, just decide 'to start using a computer tomorrow' without any prior experience and training by the experts - and expect that way of using a computer to be effective. Yet that is how an architect approaches a difficult problem. They do not reach for any text books, guides, rules or LAWs. They do not set out with any pre-conceived notion of how 'it gets done'.

I mean, that could arguably lead to a very right-brain way to design architecture. I don't believe that using computerisation to help design of architecture - is a good fit to how the architects brain tries to work.

IT based techniques of designing, which demand a high level of skill by the user of the system. That is just not how the architects work, think or operate.

It may seem very naive to some people, to start from this kind of 'child-like' starting point toward design - working from a place where you have no clue at all, to a place where suddenly everything, and every last detail seems to fit snugly. But is there any other description for how the masters in architecture work?

In reference to Plug's comments in the 'Large Scale' thread, I hope this post might throw at least some light on my point of view.

I don't think, Plug, that architects would be able to design any architecture based upon a very rigid, A,B,C organised 'right-brain' sort of approach. And the idea, of knowing about calculating the LUX, and so forth doesn't exactly fit into the very 'left-brain' kind of activity which architects do to design their stuff.

Sure, there have been experiments into integrating both the right and left brain approaches to design. I think that Bolton Street college of architecture, down through the years has been very courageous in exploring this avenue. In that respect it is very unique in its classification as a way to educate.

It is a true mongrel-Hybrid so to speak. A bit like the biologically altered species of crops, whose location is a matter of national security! :-)

Brian O' Hanlon.
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Postby garethace » Wed Dec 17, 2003 6:12 pm

You could not, for instance, just decide 'to start using a computer tomorrow' without any prior experience and training by the experts - and expect that way of using a computer to be effective.


In spite of the current trend to sell technology to a mass market, as friendly, easy-to-use, intuitive, and 'SMART' 'tools' for everyone. It still remains the underlying truth, that computerisation, is a very right-brain activity.

It is all about systems and routines, from the largest grain of how it integrates into your daily life - down to the very tiniest grain, of how the programming language talks in 1s and 0s, to some dump piece of silicon engineering known commonly as the chip.

This computerisation as a 'left-brain' activity is a bit of a marketing tool really, to make you feel more attached to a certain brand name or product.
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Postby Plug » Wed Dec 17, 2003 6:33 pm

I agree completely that no architect should have to worry about lux levels, that's what I do!
That said, if I went about a lighting design from a perspective that just concentrated on the technical aspect, it would be a pretty boring design.
The best working relationships I have with architects are the ones where they throw up their hands, admit that lighting is not what the do and tell me how they want it to look.
(generally I end up coming up with a better concept, but that's by the by;)
I only ever get into the techie end of things after I have all my concepts/ideas roughed out, and then really only to make sure certain basic lux/glare facter parameters are met and to give the client a pretty picture in the middle of the proposal, I do however always point out that it is only a representation.
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Postby garethace » Wed Dec 17, 2003 6:41 pm

Coincidence, the best I ever get along with architects, is when they throw their hands up and admit they haven't got a clue about computers - therefore I can become parential in that equation, and make a meaningful positive relationship with them. Getting them to the point, where they can admit this to me, is practically impossible though. They are afraid that someone might think they are weak, if they admit it.
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Postby Plug » Wed Dec 17, 2003 9:23 pm

When it comes down to it, it's just a tool.
Whatever you design, if your not much good to begin with, the latest bells and whistles won't make you good at it. It does, however serve a purpose, Antony Gormleys Angel of the North probably would be known as The Angel flat on its back if it hadn't been for the boffins/geeks at Newcastle university working out the stresses (and strains) such a structure was going to come accross from exposure to the elements.
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Postby garethace » Wed Dec 17, 2003 9:53 pm

Well I just think the architects tend to underestimate, rather than overestimate the contribution made by all the boffins and geeks. I have learned a lot from them personally - perhaps not the wordly kind of things I have from architects, but nonetheless well worth knowing.

A description of the Property Economist given here was the 'nail-counters', which is quite amusing. But then you have to go, heh, it is economics that makes the bigger wheels turn too.

Just listen to Miss Palthrow (6m per flic) talking about the price she has now to pay for petrol because she decided to join Madonna and live in London. She also gave out about the weather a lot.

As someone once said, the problem with the weather, is everyone complains about it, but noone ever does anything about it.
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Postby Plug » Wed Dec 17, 2003 9:58 pm

You've learnt worldly things from architects!

I'm quite obviously moving in the wrong circles
;)
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Postby garethace » Wed Dec 17, 2003 10:20 pm

Why don't you join the AAI, they have many worldly kinds of guests. I was at a Daniel Libeskind lecture years ago, the guy designing the new ground zero.

How is that for worldly? New lighting job too eh?
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Postby garethace » Wed Dec 17, 2003 10:20 pm

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Postby Plug » Thu Dec 18, 2003 1:01 pm

Interesting. I might just do that.
I'd be a bit warey(sp?) that a lot of it might be over my head, but what the hell!
Do they embrace non-architects with a vested interest in architecture with open arms, or are they a bit, how can I put this, elitist?
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Postby garethace » Thu Dec 18, 2003 1:11 pm

To be honest, the AAI do not care what profession you come from. It is completely motivated by 'just having an interest' in design.

In fact, it would be true to say, that architects perhaps like going to the AAI to get away from their profession a bit, to get a wider view on things. To dip their toes into something a bit different.

I mean, in the question times at the end, or in forum debates I have gone to, it was the multiplicity of views and opinions that was so refreshing.
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Postby garethace » Fri Dec 26, 2003 11:23 am

Learn all about things like RTE, no not the Montrose variety, but the one all corporation will spend billions on during the upcoming next .DOT COM boom.

ABC News
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Postby PVC King » Fri Dec 26, 2003 2:19 pm

Very Interesting article,

It would appear from other sources that the tech markets are coming back again. Which should be good for architects as NASDAQ operations normally think about their workplaces greatly.


Ireland tops list of European Tech capitals

April 23, 2003

Ireland tops the list of countries which are perceived to have the most potential to be the Silicon Valley/Technology capital of Europe. This is according to a new survey by technology group, Eurocom PR Network, in association with its Irish partner, Simpson Financial and Technology PR.

The survey covered 147 senior executives in technology companies in 12 European countries, including Ireland. Respondents were not allowed to vote for their own country.

Almost one in five executives (19%) backed Ireland, followed by Germany (14%) and the UK (8%).

RTE in Spanish equates to RVSP
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Postby garethace » Fri Dec 26, 2003 5:39 pm

technology revolves in 4 year cycles - then everyone needs to upgrade at once.

2000 was an artificial w2k scandal and should never have been used to boost sales and upgrades artificially - the obvious realit of a slump after such dangerous over-buying happened.

You could pick up big-iron SUN gear on the black market for a fraction of its original cost around 2001.

some of the tech curious readers here, might do well to keep this article in their favs,

2004 - Year of the upgrade

A lot of standards and specs are going to all change at once, meaning that those who have bought this year, really have bought at the wrong time.
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Postby PVC King » Fri Dec 26, 2003 8:10 pm

The other tip is that at the end of the quarter both players HP and Dell discount to outdo each other. It is amazing the deals that can be had, particularly with laptops.
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Postby garethace » Fri Dec 26, 2003 8:45 pm

Not to mention all of the new products which are always held back until after the xmas rush. Nothing older would ever sell before xmas.
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Postby PVC King » Fri Dec 26, 2003 9:48 pm

Besides the fact that buying computer equipment takes time and no-one has the time to weigh it up logically in the rush for cheap baubles.
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Postby garethace » Fri Dec 26, 2003 11:23 pm

Just a glance over at the Dell specs for home gaming units these days, a thing I haven't done in a long time I must admit - there is no way the average Joe might consider upgrading his pathetic Geforce FX 5200 to a new Radeon 9800XT with 256MB of dual channel 256bit Direct X 9.0 card with 8 fully functional 32-bit rendering pipelines. (Each cycle can render 8 pixels)

I bit much to imagine the average person actually knowing that - but then again, the average person possibly wouldn't know the difference. Or that an Audigy 2 sound card not only renders sounds in the game, but can also process those sounds bouncing off of objects and your hearing them indirectly!

Naw, that just purely for the geeks! ;-)

TOD and TED.

Anyhow, it would appear that many products in the PC industry are in the process of diverging at the moment - i.e. to keep the R&D going on various components, the average user will not need the sophistication of the highest end parts. That means, that only a small community of dedicated followers will actually spend more money to get the high end.

So in a way, the market for 'The enthuasiast desktop' (TED) could be like all PCs were in the beginning - something that only a few will afford. While the technology contained in 'The office Desktop' (TOD) will be much more crippled and divergent from the higher end.

It will be interesting to see how things pan out anyhow. I would expect to see TED running much faster that TOD in future, or TOD just politely bowing out and becoming the sealed platric box, that Microsoft/XBOX wants everyone to have, rather than the open Architecture made available presently.

It looks as if consoles will become very sophisticated too

But consoles do not have to be backwardly compatible, which means they can throw out everything and the kitchen sink, every few years and start with a clean slate. Unlike the Desktop, which has to remain backwardly compatible to x86 and its gigantic installed software base - circa early 1990s.

While the demand for high end pcs for games will just fuel a very small but elite sort of demand

AI is an interesting study - the best way to think about a game, is just like a very complicated database.
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Postby PVC King » Fri Dec 26, 2003 11:46 pm

I agree and it gets the more serious when the subject becomes architecture. Can you imagine buildings getting thrown away after four years?

I don't really have the time for PC games anymore but one would have to say that any improvements that allowed PS2 quality on your home office computer could never be a bad thing.

Besides the fact that if one shares a house others may want to watch the TV,

As for geeks, there are always a few that take it too far but I don't think that wanting good gaming makes one any different to the next person.

Give Tparlon a copy of simcity 3000 get someone to develop simfarm
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