Tacit Knowing: Making Disciplinary Knowledge Visible in Architectural Design

By Elizabeth Anne Musgrave and Douglas Neale.

Published by Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal — Annual Review

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published Online: July 24, 2015 $US5.00

Abstract: Through analysis of the outcomes of a model studio project, this paper demonstrates tacit knowing in the process of learning architectural design. Unlike skills and knowledge associated with explicit and concrete systems of disciplinary knowledge which are easily described and embedded as learning in studio projects, tacit knowledge is covert. Encompassing abstract notions such as concepts of spatial experience, such knowledge is intrinsic to architecture yet difficult to describe except through architecture itself. This paper will disclose how an awareness of spatial concepts is revealed through engagement in design process. Hungarian philosopher Michael Polanyi’s ‘structure of tacit knowing’ is adopted as a tool for analysing the outcomes of students’ project work and reflective journals. In establishing how and where learning has occurred, analysis will identify characteristics of ‘tacit’ knowledge as it arises in the discipline of architecture. It will also describe the mechanisms by which students’ engagement in processes reveals this form of knowledge.

Keywords: Architectural Design, Tacit Knowing, Michael Polanyi, Studio Pedagogy, Abstraction

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal — Annual Review, Volume 8, 2014, pp.43-54. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published Online: July 24, 2015 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.936MB)).

Elizabeth Anne Musgrave

Lecturer, School of Architecture, Faculty of Engineering Architecture and Information Technology, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Douglas Neale

Associate Lecturer, School of Architecture, The University of Queensland, St. Lucia Q 4072, Australia