PRACTICE AND SIMULATION:
Up until now, the core of our unit has been to help each student develop their own experimental practices, both in their approach to design and in the media through which they work.
We see this as a rewarding way to nurture design and a helpful educational method. We have approached this through related research and architectural projects.
This year we will build on this way of working by acknowledging that the individual project is not entirely autonomous and is influenced by our more general concerns and practices. If in the past we have tried to develop a sense of practice out of the project, this year we will develop an idea of how each of us wishes to construct a practice to develop a project.
One of the benefits we see in such an approach is that the frame of each student’s invention of a practice will both open up a freedom of experimentation in the project work and simultaneously providing a means to be explicit about some of the more personal aspects of the work.
The idea of a practice implies that there are ways of working that can embody the practitioner’s accumulated knowledge. How does this come about and how can we structure the nature of our operations to enlighten how we practice? Practice is built up of abstract ideas such as methods, tactics, knowledge and skills. Some rely entirely on an intellectual mechanism alone to frame their work but this year we are particularly interested in the physical things that creative people use to embody their ideas and to nurture the way they are brought into the world through testing, representation and speculation.
We will be studying techniques of simulation that have allowed all sorts of practitioners to rehearse their ideas before they are fully formed. We will then develop our own methods of simulation, relating both to a general idea of practice and to the particular architectural project each student chooses to pursue. We will start by studying the working methods of practitioners in a range of creative and scientific fields and examine the nature of their practice; how the practice relates to the individual project and their methods of simulation – where they can rehearse their ideas and gain some reflection on those thoughts in advance of production. We have a long list of suggestions of people worth studying but are also open to anyone who is pushing the boundaries of how to practice. We expect the tools and tactics of simulation to help develop and contextualise the architectural projects and tease out the substance of each particular invention of practice.
Though the idea of simulation as a tool can be powerful, we must also remain critical of its limits. In fields such as science and engineering simulation is employed as a means to gather certainty. In the creative realm, however, we propose that rehearsals and representation can also open up unforeseen possibilities and that the realm between the general trajectory of practice and the particular impulses of a project can be drawn out through inventive simulation – simulation as stimulation! Our programme this year is set up to tickle and question the conventions of architectural practice and how the discipline is rehearsed.
Our trip this year will take us to Sweden and Denmark to study the experimentally made buildings of Sigurd Lewerentz and the carefully composed landscapes, buildings and furniture of Gunnar Asplund. We will also investigate the digital and analogue modelling and simulation processes at work at the Chalmers 250 metre long, ship hull testing tank.
We will continue to invent our practices throughout the year with the development of the building project and experimental prototypes, which will require the students to innovate their own methods of measuring, making and representation.