Re: Re: DDDA / Docklands Miscellany

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@spoil_sport wrote:

Well Brian, I am extreemly gratefull that I have made my way through architecture school before you got your hands on it, I find the idea of studying economice apawling, and would think twice about doing architecture if that was the case.

The reason, I emphasise economics for architects, is precisely for that reaction you experienced. That of shock and horror. It is what Edward de Bono calls a provocation in his teachings. You will find quite a few decent snippets of De Bono talking, on You Tube.

Basically, you introduce an idea or provocation from a field totally outside your own, to enable Lateral Thinking. One of the big draw backs in Plato, Aristotle and Socrates western thought system, is that every thought has to have a logic to it. A lot of my contributions here on the Archiseek forum, has been ‘Red Hat’ stuff, in terms of saying what I ‘feel’ about our public planning bodies. Other posters here have introduced more white, black etc hat thinking.

A good example of a ‘green hat’ thinker is Liam Carroll, which means I guess, that DCC are always performing a black hat thinking. The green hat is a natural counter balance to the dominant black hat. The green hat puts the black hat, at a disadvantage.

One of the comments made in the ‘State we are In’ Radio One series, was that developers get a lot of their guidance from the real estate professions. The real estate professions, tend to use what happened in the past as a relevant guide, to projecting what might happen in the future. If that is the case, then where did the apartment building come from? We weren’t building apartments for private consumption before the 1990s to any great extent. Liam Carroll imported the idea of building apartments into this country, at a time when the research would have told, there was no market for apartments in Ireland. Yet, they sold off the drawing board. It was the same with mobile phones, the personal computer and many other discontinuous innovations. Of course, the point underlined throughout the ‘State We Are In’ Radio program, is that apartment building was an economic innovation in Ireland, as opposed to being a social or urban design one. It came in linked to a whole array of complex financial instruments, which were deemed necessary as incentives. To encourage investment in a lot of derelict land available in our towns and cities during the 1990s. Basically, to encourage private money to move into those areas. To enable money that was in the economy but lying fairly stagnant, to flow around and start changing hands again. In 2008 we are back in that very same situation. Where the money flow has stalled completely again. Yet much of the derelict lands are built on. That little trick won’t work a second time.

(Please take note in the coming years as the same ball game plays out again, in relation to renewable wind energy in Ireland. A whole feast of economic conditions and legalities will be drawn up in haste, to enable the roll out process of wind generated power)

So you see, architects are involved in financial services. They are in the job of working with economic incentives, with developers to arrive at some solution. I was reading Deyan Sedjic’s book about London the other day, where he describes a whole series of hotel buildings beside Heathrow airport, which were a product of government grant aiding for no. of hotel rooms completed by a certain date during the 1960s. Completed by a certain date, being the key qualification, so you can imagine the constaints in which the design operated there. That is what I intended to convey, when I suggested architects be more aware of economics. It is a ‘hat’ worth wearing from time to time. (To borrow De Bono’s phrase on Thinking Hats) As you journey around the globe and look at development elsewhere.

I want to make one other observation about the work of Edward de Bono. In relation to how we teach architects and planners. (Indeed, the department of education in Ireland recently brought in De Bono to suggest advice for our country’s system of education. Currently under a lot of strain due to increased numbers) One of the dis-functionalities I experienced during my time in Architecture School, was a lack of a space in which students might come to terms with their own creativty. (I hate using that awful word, but lets plough on) How about a class on ‘Creativity’ itself? Becoming self conscious of what architects do. Imagine if students of architecture could spend a little time each week, and earn course credits to listen to a You Tube lecture by Edward de Bono? I know from spending a lot of time with architectural students what the reaction would be. Oh drag, its pub time. There is no time. The project is more important. I have to see a soap opera tonight. Blah, blah, blah. I saw on RTE Radio One’s website a program about pre-school in Ireland, called ‘Learning to Learn’. I mean, what about a lecture in Thinking about Thinking? So that architecture undergraduates in a group format, could confront their own thought processes?

(I can just picture the hand bag fights now)

Architectural students in their late teens and early twenties, experience a growing isolation due to the longeivity of their student life. I certainly experienced it. My friends from secondary school (who did engineering or commerce) moved on to find jobs. It appeared like I was dragging my heels. Constantly pale, worn out and seemingly incoherent. Not with it, at all. Underperforming. I got crap from my favourite aunties and uncles. As my first cousins qualified in their 3 year Bachelor of Arts courses, and went on to do an MA. Those ‘graduate students’ didn’t want to be seen beside me any longer. That is, when I was only half way through my course! In other words, architects, at that vulnerable, youthful, formative stage, find themselves in conflict with society. Moving outside the herd they are familiar with. Which is quite a distressing experience, having spent so much time as part of the herd during secondary school. And perhaps even rose to become a leader in that herd. As a mere function of needing to achieve high points to get into architecture in the first place. To suddenly have that little piece of status and credibility erode away. To be monopolised by a 3 year BA with a car loan!

What De Bono says, is we operate in a judgemental western thinking environment. Rather than one conducive to constructive thinking and design. Judgemental thinking was necessary at the time of the Renaissance for the religious groups to form value judgements about the heretics, and it has stuck with us, right down to the present. (Heretic is an unofficial label used in society for the young architectural student) I don’t think that teachers appreciate the psychology of what is going on in the young minds. Other disiplines get to study more maths, more reading and more science. It all increases their value on the job market. (If only in a short term way, as they learn the latest whiz bag computer languages or whatever, available to them in universities) Architectural students are asked to summon material from within themselves. (And I don’t mean barfing outside the pub) This shift in direction, in the brain activity of the young person, isn’t dealt with fundamentally at architecture school. In fact, instead of building character, it leaves architects fundamentally weakened. The effects of which, last throughout their career and perhaps in severe cases, well into retirement.

Brian O’ Hanlon

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