THE NEED FOR ARCHITECTURAL MATERIALISM

Architecture has always been a transformation of materials into human shelters in various types of natural and social space. The fast invasion of computers during the last 20-30 years has generated a virtual kind of space with its own virtual architecture. The novel digital tools offer great possibilities in architectural practice, both in the design and production of buildings, transforming radically the way architects work and create.

They also transform architectural education, as the architecture curriculum is being rapidly de-materialized, with digital-based courses displacing conventional ones. In the current enthusiasm about digital design, a leading emphasis is given to the geometric aspects of buildings as virtual objects, with anaemic coverage of their spatial materiality and the dynamics of time.

As a direct witness of architectural education for over three decades, I can identify certain tendencies among average students:- a gradual diminishing of their ’analogue’ skills, with weakening 3-D imagination (not to mention 4-D) and manual dexterities;- a growing dependence, confidence, and even addiction on digital tools and methods that substitute initiatives and inventiveness;- a decline in their comprehension of physical necessities that are inescapably linked to design, construction, and operation of buildings –an unfortunate development that coincides with a flood of building products and techniques;- an ‘incubator-like’ perception of how built environment works, with weak understanding of natural systems and processes.
A promising development is that such negative trends are somehow balanced by students’ own sensing of deficiencies in their education, which make them eager to get involved in hands-on events where computers take a back seat. That is a hint –among others- to the need for re-instating ‘architectural materialism’ in the curriculum by means of core courses and parallel events that address the multiple physical aspects of architecture tectonics, ultimately enriching the geometric and theoretical considerations that currently govern the design studio.

29 April Wednesday, 15:00
İzmir University of Economics, Faculty of Fine Arts and Design

Guzden Varinlioglu's photo.

Thanos graduated from National Technical University of Athens School of Architecture in 1975. He received his Graduate Diploma from Architectural Association Energy Course in 1986, and his PhD from NTUA in 1999. His long academic career at various schools of architecture has primarily been focusing on sustainable design, which has also been implemented in his private architectural practice. His expertise on building construction is accompanied by extensive academic and professional work on applied geometry, CAD, interior design and visual arts.