Modeling the Methodologies of Our Time

AGENCY: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council - Research-creation in the fine arts program

AMOUT: $197,600 (+ $30,000 from the McGill Sustainability Fund)


The objective of the proposed research is to investigate the productive and demonstrative characteristics at play in architectural design technics. In the pursuit of the advancement of knowledge in the field of architectural creation, it aims to query three operative ‘models’ in order to investigate, through productive means, the qualities, biases, shortcomings and benefits inherent in specific contemporary modes of creation. Models (n.) are regarded as epistemological tools that aim to offer an understanding of the phenomena that they actively model (v.) (Flusser, 2002). Additionally, MMOT was conceived with the objective to question the current alignment of specific theoretical devices with computational strategies and techniques. From the beginning it was an investigation in technics as potentially subversive to linear, conceptually driven design strategies and the status of fabricative knowledge relative to predominant models of thought in architecture. For example, biomimetic theories propose an interpretation of the natural world to be emulated as a means in resolving issues faced in the built environment. Parametric theory strongly asserts that a building and the act of building functions as a machine-system and should be conceived and fabricated within imitation of that analogue. Sustainable theory largely defines the relationship between world and built environment relative to uses of resources that have a minimal impact on given climatological criteria. Each theory has exemplars of best practices and methods in architecture. However the notion that practice follows from theory ignores the possibility of architectural practice—the design, fabrication, and installation of the built environment—as a form of inquiry in its own right. The research considers technics as the “master metaphor of our times, the basis of a new theology: a constellation of concepts, models and paradigms” (Vaccari, 2009). It argues for the primacy of fabricative knowledge as a profound access to the unthinkable and as the configuring force in the invention of technical objects, new practices, and insight into novel singular propositions. As Erin Manning states (2009), the presumption that the “project pre-exists the problematic” and that one can “know in advance what is at stake” in invention can be subverted through an attentive choreography of techniques and productive activity.

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Associated projects are Le b-Shack & The Shacks.