Design in Practice

Design in Practice

The main mission of the Institute of Architecture is to educate architectural practitioners. An important part of this mission is to acquaint students with the nature of the practice of architecture and to simulate some of its aspects in the studios. This does not imply a slavish imitation of the mechanics of practice but rather to develop a critical view of how practice operates together with developing innovative attitudes to those aspects found wanting.

Christian Hermansen
Solveig Sandness
Jan Olav Jensen
Håkon Vigsnæs

Social Role
In the practice of architecture, the architect is rarely called on to invent programs. Architectural programs emerge from social needs which architecture is called on to house. This does not imply that the architect may not have a personal and critical view of a commission, or that the possible differences between the client’s and the architect’s views of a program are not subject to negotiation. What it does mean is that architectural programs should emerge from needs explicitly formulated by social agents, rather than from the architectural imagination.

Artistic Approach
Throughout his treatise Vitruvius is at pains to point to the multi-faceted nature of architecture embodied in his definition “firmitas”, “utilitas”, and “venustas”. The latter to be achieved through the correspondence of architecture and the order of the cosmos; which was formally embodied in the classical orders. However by the seventeenth century it had become difficult to accept that the explanation of why the products of subjects such as art and architecture, that stirred strong feelings and a sense of beauty, could only be explained by the relation of architecture to the cosmos. In 1671, to refer to this mystery, Bonhours coined the expression ‘je ne sais quoi’.
Since the recognition of the elusiveness of this concept in the XVIIc it seems that we are not much closer to defining it. In a recent lecture Mari Hvattum argued that we could recognise the ‘je ne sais quoi’ in that architecture in which ‘care’ and ‘surprise’ were present. ‘Care’ refers to critical thinking that would question the mechanical acceptance of what is established. ‘Surprise’ is the effect which results from encountering the novel and unexpected, in relation to what is the established norm. It is in this sense that the Practice: Architectural Design Group will deal with ‘the artistic’.

Architecture is mostly taught through learning-by-doing within the tradition of project-based and problem-based education. This is an important, if not the most important, teaching method in most of the arts and design disciplines where emphasis is placed on creativity, developing a critical stance to the issues at hand, to problem solving, and to communications. 
The teacher provides an architectural problem or raises an issue that could be addressed through architecture; the student studies the problem, develops an attitude to it, and suggests a solution. Then the teacher, based on his/her experience, points to and discusses the likely consequences of the implementation of such a solution. This process is iterative, leads to a progressive refinement of the project, and continues, until the project development time has run out.

The members of the group work, in different ways, at the interface between architecture and society. They have to respond to, often critically, to the demands that society places on the practice of architecture, bringing to the studio the currency, knowledge and experience which the participation in this process gives them. The studios offered by the group are the link between academia and practice, something that is essential to a discipline whose aim is practice.

Architectural research in schools of architecture is a contested subject. Opinions range from totally dismissing its value, either because it does not conform to rigorous research practices, to pointing out its irrelevance to the changes that occur in the architectural profession, to the acceptance that it has to be embraced, if nothing else because it justifies public money spent on architectural education.

We understand the objectives of research to be: (1) the production of new knowledge and (2) its diffusion for the benefit of society. On this basis we propose that research relevant to architecture should consist of (1) the making of an architecture in which ‘care’ and ‘surprise’ are present, in other words an architecture which in some way challenges the norm and in doing so proposes new ways in which society relates to buildings; and (2) that this production should be acknowledged by peers to merit diffusion in the public realm, in other words publication.

Other Units/fields

Architecture and Urbanism: Architecture & Culture, Architectural historyArchitecture and Landscape, Building heritageCities, Form, Large Scale Architecture, Materials, Structure & EcologyPerformance & ComputationPractise, Space & Technique Collaboration

Design: Industrial Design, Interaction Design, Service Design, Systems oriented Design

Landscape Architecture: Infrastructure and landscape, Landscape urbanism, Emerging Landscapes and Territories, Architecture and Landscape, Public Space and Parks