︎︎︎ Call for Abstracts
Journal n. 7, Year III, Issue 2/3, Summer 2023
References are the basis of every learning activity, it is amply demonstrated, and, in the field of design, this fact is doubly true. Since the first modern reformulation of educational models, the pedagogy of architectural design, like any other technical-artistic discipline, has admitted very few theoretical notions which can be generalized at all. In order to learn by doing, the indication, the norm, or the rule have never had the same effectiveness as a located and contextual reference to a certain way of operating or its result. Such an interpretation of references – operational rather than normative – places the act of design and its teaching on the same level as other disciplines – from painting to sculpture, from literature to music, from photography to moviemaking – all interested in a reflection on the ways of their doing, also through the observation of the ways of doing of one or more chosen references. In addition, if it is recognized that the ways of doing belong to a common or even super-disciplinary domain, references acquire an extraordinarily broad meaning, potentially capable of going beyond the traditional disciplinary boundaries. For this reason, research, analysis, and the correct use of the most appropriate references have always represented one of the founding factors of the teaching process in this field, also by virtue of a polysemy which, depending on the moment, has lent itself to different interpretations.
The term can refer, alternatively or simultaneously, to the project understood as a process, as a product, or as a performance, according to different degrees of adherence to its reference. It can indicate a model to be followed in its entirety, a unit of measure to relate to, or a connection that is established between one’s own and others’ work, be it a building, a drawing, a text, or any work produced by disciplines whose knowledge is achieved by doing. And in the same way, it can be understood both in a systemic sense, as a set of values that construct meaning, and in an analytical sense, as a term of comparison for a single aspect or character of it. It can be a quote, an allusion, or even just a hint to another project, as it can be given in terms of analogy, conformity, or adherence to a certain system. In any case, what is certain is that, today, the use of references is experiencing a substantial crisis, in many ways paradoxical.
There has never been a time when access to an impressive variety of references has been easier, and their role has been more questioned. Real-time communication and the global migration of ideas coincided, without particular causal links, with the birth of a post-critical attitude towards the interpretation of reality and with the exasperation of a visual culture that has flattened on the surface of the image. The result is that the overabundance of references that are available today appears inversely proportional to the ability to use them in an instrumental sense, and it seems more necessary than ever to bridge the gap between these two data, without prejudice of any kind. In a vertical sense, through a teaching model capable of constructing new methods of critical analysis matching the current interpretative systems, or in a horizontal sense, by developing methodologies to enhance this extraordinary accessibility beyond established means and habits.
In the seventh issue of Stoà, we will therefore question the role of references as a methodological teaching tool, through a survey of teaching practices and ongoing pedagogical experiences, which refer to methods of research, interpretation, and introjection of knowledge through the comparison with its processes and its products. The goal is to build a constellation of practices and cultural positions that make reference, understood in a variable way as a quote, term of comparison, or model, a functional tool for learning, in light of the paradigm changes that reality requires to face. In this sense, there are three thematic branches within which we propose to collect critical reflections, identified by as many dualisms, designed to invite authors to elaborate new possibilities for reconciliation:
1. Systematic vs. instrumentality
In mathematics, a reference system is the set of elements that allows one to associate one or more analytical entities with each geometric entity. In the field of architectural design, are unifying reference systems still possible or is it necessary to construct them, from time to time, through a series of partial answers selected on the basis of their contextual usefulness? What are the great frames of reference that can still have a grip on reality? How can a complex system be shaped by starting from partial references? What are the methods of integration, comparison, and organization of different disciplinary references? In which teaching practices are they substantiated?
2. Adherence vs. reworking
From a linguistic point of view, the term can be interpreted by a series of very different rhetorical figures, from allusion to analogy, and can refer to both a behavioral and an objectual dimension. In what way and with what degree of adherence are design references substantiated today in teaching practice? Which disciplinary, lateral, or transversal skills are references able to develop to strengthen a culturally and technically based approach to the project? What methods of analysis, processing, and interpretation of design references are still able to favor the introjection of disciplinary knowledge and its tools? What exercises can be put into practice to refine them?
3. Critical capacity vs. possibility of access
In light of the extraordinary availability of references, essentially of a visual nature, it is necessary to rethink the methods of research, selection, and indexing of possible terms of design comparison. Is it still possible to teach in a systematic way how to find one’s own references or do we need to rethink the models in this field in light of new access possibilities and methods of interpretation? What are the privileged means to do this, including books, magazines, social media, and search engines, and what logic of organization, study, and comparison do they involve? What new teaching methods can be put in place to exploit this unprecedented possibility of access without losing analytical skills?
We are interested in contributions that specifically engage with the following:
→ recognizing common traits in contemporary international pedagogical experiences;
→ understanding and describing approaches and cultural references, as well as inferences derived from other fields, such as history, art, philosophy, anthropology, literature, geography, sociology and economics usefull for teaching architecture;
→ exemplifying, through their conceptualization, specific didactic experiences, capable of becoming synthetic and effective expressions of a teaching know-how;
→ intertwining narratives and research, theories and conjectures, verifying the starting conditions by comparing them with the results of the teaching activities;
→ tracing a limit that can be shared by the scientific community, within which to critically and tendentiously “position” ideas and (didactic) projects, in order to build a a recognizable system by substantiating the reasons.
Abstracts in English or Italian (max. 2500 characters) should be submitted to: email@example.com
︎︎︎Download the call
Accepted abstracts will be announced by 28/11/2022. Contributions accepted for publication in the printed journal are expected by 06/03/2023 in the form of a scientific essay, accompanied by notes, bibliography and images, for a maximum of 18,000 characters (spaces, notes and bibliography included) and 8 images/pictures (of which you own the copyright of if they are free for use).
The proposed article must be original in its content. It should have not been published in another print or digital magazine or book.
Accepted essays in their final version will undergo a process of Double-Blind Peer Review.
The call is open to PhD students, researchers, professors and all scholars academically involved in teaching architecture.