Title: Beyond Design: An ethnography about the roles of concepts, pedagogies and artistic practices in 21st century architecture
Supervisors: Prof. Ignacio Farías and Prof. Claudia Mareis
This dissertation explores from an actor-network theory inspired ethnographic research approach how architects do, challenge and problematize the disciplinary logics of architectural education and, in a further instance, the intersection between architectural training and the professional practice. Taking the studio courses at a Spanish architecture school as starting point, this ethnographic case study describes (1) how the unity of architectural education and building practices is suspended, (2) how the concept of the fundamental problem in architecture is problematized by architectural design practices, and (3) how (local) socio-political issues, the agency of non-humans and the ethical accountability of architects for the built environment gain new relevance in architectural production.
Based on an ethnography research (between 2017-2019), this dissertation presents a new conceptualization of architecture: the ‘architecture as theoretical practice’. In comparison to an ‘architecture as form’ and an ‘architecture as design practice’, this new conceptualization opens up the possibility to examine architectural production beyond the design and construction of buildings and reveals how architects build or materialize concepts and discourse as part of their socio-material practices. Consequently, parallels between actor-network theory and ‘architecture as theoretical practice’ are discussed by showing how both of them can be defined as (different) forms of ‘anti-theory’.