L A T I T U D E: UNDISCIPLINING ARCHITECTURE
Eric Wright, Claudia Morgado, Mikara Naidoo
view from our lounge
Phitlhello Nana Sedibe
Institute of Myth and Material
“Possibly, there was something to be said for the intellectual discipline of second-guessing what you thought was true.”
—Kwame Anthony Appiah
We are interested in building. Not only the act that entails bricks and mortar, but building the vocabulary of our discipline, the spaces they occupy and the institutions which occupy them. As Architects, we make edges, we construct limits, we build walls and we conceptualise spatial ideas. We do this not only in the built fabric but in employing norms and standards of the discipline within the practice of architecture. If we understand ‘practicing architecture’ as the active application of our discipline, how do we expand our methods and tools in order to expand the limits of what we do? By pushing against restrictive definitions and orthodoxy, we champion and elevate the divergent and the uncertain in order to allow architecture to grow. Through the work we celebrate the ambiguities of architecture; drawing on data, history and art, forming structure, stories and material culture, working with technology, parametricism and form.
The site of practice continues to expand. As we construct alternative sites of practice, we simultaneously locate the study in unexpected sites for architecture. As climate change brings unfamiliar scenarios that defy traditional understanding, we can no longer consider it solely through the realms of science and news media. Climate change offers opportunities for imaginative inventions – a new lens through which Architects and cities are forced to reconsider established dogma. Latitude, defined as a freedom of action, choice and opinion, as well as the point on the earth’s surface as measured North or South from the equator, is engaged as both an attitude and a site. Students are given the latitude to explore their practice beyond the limits of codes and conventions, while the studio looks to those lines of latitude below the equator that span Johannesburg and other Southern cities under climates and forces of change.
Architecture is most interesting when intersecting with other disciplines. By merging key ways of observing and communicating from different disciplines, we foster a process that travels across borders and definitions. Looking at both traditional professions and those currently emerging in the technological era, we construct transdisciplinary approaches to research and practice. We will borrow techniques and learn from digital design disciplines, to help us map current conditions, construct scenarios and communicate ideas. The Major Design Project of the year will be an ‘Institute of Architecture’, focused on engaging radical change. Projects may look at real or fictional interpretations of an institutional programme, where latitude is given to surprising configurations of method, space and discipline. This institute will be developed in line with student’s individual approaches to architecture, in order to critically examine what forces currently shape our profession. We are left with two main questions: What does it mean to be an Architect? and, What does it mean to be an Architect, here?