On ‘collect[ing] nothing’ and ecology

Thanks to nam for spotting this in his weekly archinect editor’s picks. Evan Sharp made a provocative comment that has resonance worth discussing to Kazys’s blog post ‘today we collect nothing’:

In architecture school today the best teachers have almost no grasp of the tools being used by students, and students have very little exposure to the theory and history being mined by teachers. The result is a hell of a lot of pseudo-academic and aesthetic wankery, all of which is at odds with the spirit of the age.

Since my undergrad days in the early 90’s which marked the apogee of post-structuralist education and was part of the bauhaus linage of pedagogy, the advent of new modes of production vis-a-vis the computer has thrown a monkey wrench into the time tested sequence as Sergio López-Piñeiro puts it, of

{{{{ Operations } Projects } Theses } Movements }.

So theory and history are getting pushed aside to teach 3dmax, maya, perl, flash, GIS and lots of other programs that will be obsolete in a few years. I don’t mourn the demise of history – the relevance of being able to identify the nuances of gothic cathedrals or roman temples is moot in today’s world of Google. But theory, the ‘why?’, seems even more relevant when there are overwhelming buffet of methods available.

Then there is the insertion of ecology/sustainability that demands even more time in the curriculum and leaves students even more lacking in theory, history, and other knowledge. Ecology and the science of sustainability sits at the intersection of existentialism and science. Theory would be a good place to navigate between the moral imperative to save the planet versus the economic drivers of the design profession.

There are theories of sustainability along with the opposing perspective that god gave us the earth to plunder and subjugate. As future professionals, the theory of sustainability underlays the marketing of sustainable design. Yes, it takes more brainpower and time to design holistic systems and engage the thesis of carbon neutrality, net zero, and generative cities. Maybe sustainability is the next big movement, but it certainly requires the skills and abilities that a thesis demonstrates.

As an educator and practitioner, I certainly aspire to explore this realm between thesis and movement.

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