Long popularized as a means of collective action, collaboration is now a defining term in contemporary discourses on digital connectivity, knowledge production, and an emerging model of consumption characterized by peer-to-peer transactions. The collective nature of architectural production—that is, architects produce in isolation neither buildings nor a corresponding body of knowledge—overlooks the role of collaboration in a crisis of professional identity prompted by new digitally-fueled modes of production. This “digital turn” in architecture is the subject of much scholarly critique relative to its practitioners, practices, and physicality. The digitization of collaboration represents a renewed effort to rationalize human behavior and challenge disciplinary boundaries long resistant to cohesive architectural production. Paradoxically, the architectural profession is defined to a great extent by the very boundaries that collaboration—digitized or otherwise—seeks to erase or blur. By examining historical continuities between this mechanical past and the digital present, I establish a framework for critically assessing the effect of collaboration on twenty-first century architectural practice.
|Keywords:||Collaboration, Identity, Knowledge|
Adjunct Professor, Department of Art and Architecture, University of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA