Debating Fundamentals: Probing the Autopoiesis of Architecture – Part 7 – Charles Jencks

Lecture date: 2011-03-11

AA Symposium

Participants: Patrik Schumacher, Jeff Kipnis, Lars Spuybroek, Charles Jencks, Eric Owen Moss, Wolf D Prix, Alejandro Zaera Polo, Mark Wigley, Marc Cousins, Brett Steele, Zaha Hadid

Organised by Patrik Schumacher

The debate will be guided by the issues raised in Patrik Schumacher’s book The Autopoiesis of Architecture, which is being published by Wiley. Volume 1 was launched at the AA on 7 December 2010; Volume 2 will come out in autumn 2011. The purpose of the book is to give leadership to the discipline. It presents a systematic treatise on architecture, a unified theory constructed on the basis of a comprehensive discourse analysis of the discipline, rationally reconstructed as autopoietic system of communications, within the framework of Niklas Luhmann’s social systems theory.

The theory of architectural autopoiesis constructs a unified theoretical system that integrates many partial theories. The following theories are presented in Volume 1: theories of architectural theory; of architecture’s historical emergence; of the discipline’s self- demarcation; of the avant-garde; of the form-function aesthetic theory; of style(s), design media theory; and of architecture’s societal function. (Volume 2 continues with theories of architecture’s task articulated into an organisational, a phenomenological, and a semiological dimension; design process theory; of architecture’s relevant societal environment; of architecture’s relationship to politics; of architectural self-description. Volume two ends with a comprehensive argument for parametricism as unified, epochal style for the 21st century.)
Guests/speakers might pick one of following topics/questions (or bring anything else into the debate):

A fundamental question of ethos/ideology/discursive culture: Should we – the participants/protagonists of architecture – commit/submit ourselves to a collective debate arguing about the direction in which architecture should progress?
Is all relevant architecture globally relevant architecture, i.e. world architecture?
In which way is architecture autonomous? Is architecture one of the great autopoietic function systems of society?
Demarcating architecture: Does architecture/design constitute a sui generis discursive field and domain of expertise distinct from art, engineering and science?
The raison d’etre of architecture: Does architecture have a specific role or function to fulfil within society?
Does architecture have a stable discursive core identity? Which are the permanent and which the variable communication structures of architecture?
Can architecture be defined via its lead distinction of form vs function?
Is the distinction between avant-garde and mainstream a useful schema to analyse what goes on in architecture?
What is the role of architectural theory? Can there be architecture without theory?
Is the category of beauty still valid within architecture? What is the role and raison d’etre of aesthetic values?
What is the significance and import of the evolving design media?
Is the category of style(s) still valid (or even necessary) within architecture?
Does it make sense to propose a comprehensive, unified theory of architecture in the form of an elaborate theoretical system?

These are topics that might be raised by any of the speakers, or these might be questions with which the speakers might be confronted by the host. The idea here is to share a set of questions without necessarily allocating or selecting questions.


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