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Lecture: Mark Dorrian, Clouds of Architecture

February 12, 2010 at 6:30 pm

Philisophy of Design
What is it to ‘teach’ architectural design today? In a period marked by a loss of faith in the universal, one can no longer suppose it to be about the transmission of a set of truths. The tutor is less a ‘teacher of’ the student than a ‘participant with’ him/her in the architectural process.

When the destination of the project fails or becomes uncertain, its pursuit enters into a condition of inquiry that constantly redirects questions back to its own grounding – the ‘brief’ or originating text – which is now placed under a radical contingency. Thus the activity of the design studio inevitably emerges as a kind of research that develops under the question What if…?

This in turn unsettles even those aspects of architectural knowledge that seem most stable and straightforwardly transmissible – techniques – insofar as they are confronted with unexpected and problematic contexts and solicited for new performative possibilities.

Metis is an atelier for art, architecture and urbanism that was founded by Mark Dorrian and Adrian Hawker at the University of Edinburgh in 1997. Over the past 7 years they have produced a sequence of installations, architectural and urban proposals that have been exhibited and published internationally. Their first book, Urban Cartographies, was published in 2001 and has been widely circulated and cited, notably in the USA. They have presented the work in lectures and discussions in Antwerp, Berlin, Calgary, Gent, London, Montreal, Paris, and Prague. Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, USA, hosted an exhibition and discussions linked to their book in April 2002. They were shortlisted for a Scottish Arts Council ‘Creative Scotland’ award in 2003.

Metis’ work focuses on the city and the complex ways in which it is imagined, inhabited, and representationally encoded. They aim to produce rich, multi-layered works that resist immediate consumption and that are instead gradually unfurled over time through interaction with them. Their approach is concerned with establishing a poetic but critical approach to the city that is sensitive to its cultural memory but is also articulated in relation to its possible futures.


February 12, 2010
6:30 pm