Developing Abstraction through Experience in Architectural Pedagogies: Making is Connecting

By Stephen Temple.

Published by The International Journal of Architectonic, Spatial, and Environmental Design

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published Online: July 5, 2016 $US5.00

A primary mission of architectural design pedagogy is to get students to think/design abstractly while re-associating them to the environment as an experiential encounter. These two pedagogical issues are at odds. To use abstraction as a transformative device in design happens through the use of drawings and diagrams that distance a designer from actuality and architecture from experience. Contemporary approaches advanced by authors, Giedion, Arnheim, and the "Texas Rangers," have advanced abstraction in architectural production to the extent it is normative for both design thinking and pedagogy. However, the abstract objectification necessary to representation calls into question its adequacy for comprehending and prescribing in the material realization of ideas in a manner accounting for the rich fullness of architectural experience . This essay discusses how design pedagogies focused on abstraction affect the performance of design learning and subvert architectural experience toward abstraction itself. By learning to design by way of abstract operations, design students become isolated from material, haptic, spatial, and temporal engagement and disaffected from actual experience. The essay presents an alternate beginning design pedagogy of making as an embodied design practice that draws abstraction gradually out of direct experience. The recognizably transformative stages inherent in design exercises by making result in design learning that better establishes and proliferates connections to the fullness of embodied experience and provides for a more grounded foundation for the use of abstraction in subsequent design projects.

Keywords: Abstraction, Architectural Design Pedagogy, Aesthetics, Design Theory, Beginning Design

The International Journal of Architectonic, Spatial, and Environmental Design, Volume 10, Issue 3, September, 2016, pp.27-43. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published Online: July 5, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 969.881KB)).

Prof. Stephen Temple

Associate Professor, Department of Architecture, University of Texas, San Antonio, Texas, USA