Architectural values

My work is about developing the values of architecture, architectural values. These values are based in the human understanding. The domain of my research is architectural theory. I use writing and disputation as research methods to develop values for architecture and the city based in human understanding. My work draws heavily on the humanities – indeed, I regard architecture as a humanity, not a science or social science – because that is the discourse in which our values are most directly articulated.

I use the term architecture in the broadest way, to include the city – what Rossi called the architecture of the city, architecture framed by a city constructed of architecture – to include all the environments we construct in order to live well in them. I look at our understanding of ourselves, and of others, the sorts of judgements we make about ourselves and the world, the categories by which we organise the world. My work is an extended critique or extended reflection that usually takes the form of an extended critique.

My work refers to the architectural theories and histories that precede it, but also to the disciplines of psychoanalysis [Lacan, Freud] and philosophy [Kant, Hegel], as the two most extended discourses on the human subject. I look at questions of space, culture, subjectivity, well-being, attachment, quality, quantity.

I do research in architectural theory by making more of it. It is speculative, fictional, and it avoids the evidence base like the plague.

These values are based in human understanding, the philosopher Immanuel Kant would have called it simply the understanding, the understanding of ourselves and others, ourselves and the world, ourselves in relation to others and to the world. These values are other to the prevailing narratives of entrepreneurship and utility that are championed by government aligned with business, except to the extent that human values may be driven by acquisition of money and problem solving. My work is important because these New Labour narratives (champions of neo-liberalism, thank you Blair) may be the drivers for most architecture, but they have relatively little to do with architecture as a practice that has extended across thousands of years. This extended practice edits out the flash-in-the-pan narratives that are destructive to architecture and to the people that inhabit it. Architecture may now find itself the tool and lackey of development and investment, but architecture is not a product and is not produced as such, nor is it easily turned into a commodity.

I solve the world’s problems, by finding new models for understanding them.


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