Seminar Series | 17-19 May, 2023
“Science makes progress when it frees itself from all methodological constraints and the various world views compete with one another. Undogmatic, irrational and anarchic – that’s how science should be.”
(Paul Feyerabend, cited in Hürter and Rauner 2014, p. 36).
Citation : Hürter T., Rauner M., 2014, Ist das Forschung oder kann das weg? Die Zeit, n. 41, 35-36.
UNLEASHING THE INFINITE TAPESTRY OF ARCHITECTURE OR ILLUMINATING UNPREDICTABLE PATHWAYS TO THE FUTURE
In the ethereal realm of Paul Feyerabend’s vision, where science dances unrestrained, we find whispers of wisdom that gracefully may traverse to the pedagogy of architecture, highlighting the imperative need to introduce transdisciplinary research. By embracing Feyerabend’s call for an undogmatic and anarchic scientific approach, pedagogical practices in architecture undergo a transformation into an environment conducive to knowledge creation. Liberating the shackles of convention when teaching architecture the purpose of a pedagogical act may be to call for an « undogmatic and anarchic symphony« . Within this symphony, pedagogical landscapes unfurl, adorned with vibrant hues of knowledge. Transdisciplinary whispers should intertwine with architectural musings, birthing a harmonious fusion of disciplines.
Thus, through the integration of transdisciplinary research, which encourages collaboration and the fusion of different disciplines, architectural education may transcend traditional boundaries and may foster a holistic understanding of the built environment in relation to a creative conceptual process. This interdisciplinary movement aims to allow students to explore the complex connections between architecture, engineering, social sciences, and environmental studies, unveiling a profound panorama of the interactions that constitute our physical world. Students may embark on a journey through « enchanted realms« , where architecture converges with the essence of what we can call an « open-ended scientifically artistic discipline ». Boundaries may gradually blur, as interconnections reveal themselves, painting a profound panorama of the interwoven tapestry that adorns our physical world.
Thus the objective of the pedagogical act has to be to give birth to liberated spirits, fostering the flight of critical thought and igniting the sparks of unbridled creativity. Through the action of creation, the students may traverse the realms of possibility, imbued with the audacity to forge new pathways, and the resilience to conquer challenges that dare to hinder progress. As a result, this approach may nurture curious minds, promote critical thinking, stimulate uninhibited creativity, and develop problem-solving skills, equipping future architects with an expanded perspective and the ability to tackle the complex challenges of an ever-evolving world.
Afterwards, armed with a kaleidoscope of perspectives, students of architecture may emerge as « guardians » of the built environment, poised to navigate the labyrinthine complexities of an ever changing world forever in flux. Thus, the pedagogy may wield the fusion of disciplines like « ethereal brushes », crafting structures that transcend the mundane, transcending mere functionality to evoke emotions and embrace the human spirit in relation to inanimate and animate nature. Each step an exploration, each note a revelation, the undulating rhythm of transdisciplinary research may guide the crescendo of pedagogic discovery. And within this « poetic ode » to learning, students of architecture may find their voice, harmonizing with the universe, and etching their mark upon the tapestry of time.
e-CREHA (Education for Climate-Resilient European Architectural Heritage) is a European Union-funded project aiming to deliver an innovative transdisciplinary e-learning course and methodology through blended learning. The project’s primary focus is on developing climate resilience for built heritage across Europe while enhancing the relevance, qualities and impact of heritage in architectural design education or research. INSA Strasbourg is an important project partner. Associate Professor Lazaros Mavromatidis, Phd & HDR Architect-Engineer, participates in the international consortium representing the School of Architecture, being involved in the conception of the project.
On May 2023 (17-19 May 2023), INSA Strasbourg hosted a multiplier event in the framework of the e-CREHA project (a seminar series + an international jury). The event, titled « About Climatic Heterotopias » featured an open seminar series for architecture students, followed by a workshop session. Burcu Selcen Coskun, Associate Professor at Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University in Istanbul, and Michal Pelczarski, PhD engineer at Wroclaw University of Science and Technology, joined Nicolas Serres and Lazaros Mavromatidis, Associate Professors at INSA Strasbourg, in the workshop room. They engaged in discussions on various topics including the hazards of climate change on architectural heritage, life cycle assessment and eco-conception, physical modeling in shaping architectural structures, composition techniques, and volumetric toolkits to mitigate the impacts of climate change on architectural spaces.
ABOUT ARCHITECTURAL HERITAGE : UNVEILING THE TIMELESS TAPESTRY OR UNEARTHING THE ARCHITECTURAL LEGACY TO FORGE AN INSPIRED FUTURE THROUGH A TRANSDISCIPLINARY SEMINAR PROGRAM
Heidegger’s philosophy provides a profound starting point for contemplating the essence of architectural heritage. According to Heidegger, the significance of a building lies not merely in its functional or aesthetic attributes but also in its ability to reveal the historical, cultural, and existential aspects of human existence. From Heidegger’s perspective, architectural heritage transcends its physical form and becomes a vessel of collective memory and shared experiences. It embodies a sense of rootedness, connecting present generations with the past, and fostering a profound understanding of our place in the world. Thence, architectural heritage, in Heideggerian terms, is a manifestation of the « being-in-the-world » that reflects our historical trajectory and shapes our future. It invites us to engage in a reflective dialogue with our built environment, unveiling layers of meaning and inviting contemplation of our identity, values, and relationship with the world. So the main purpose of this multiplier event was to discuss with the participants how architectural heritage emerges as a profound testament to the human journey, illuminating the interplay between time, space, and our existential condition under the spectrum of climate change.
Burcu Selcen Coskun’s lecture provided insights and urge us to confront the urgency of addressing climate change, not only to preserve architectural heritage but to protect the interconnected web of human and non-human relationships that it represents. There is widespread acceptance that climate change poses a significant threat to architectural heritage, as indirectly highlighted by the insightful perspectives of Bruno Latour’s work. Latour’s work emphasizes the intricate interdependencies between humans, their built environment, and the natural world. Thus, in the face of climate change, architectural heritage becomes increasingly vulnerable to the shifting environmental conditions. Rising sea levels, extreme weather events, and changing climates can jeopardize the structural integrity of historical buildings and sites, leading to their degradation or even loss. Furthermore, natural hazards may increase discomfort and harm the cultural dimension of architectural heritage. Latour prompts us to recognize that the impacts of climate change are not confined to the realm of the natural, but reverberate through the socio-cultural fabric intertwined with architectural heritage. The potential loss or alteration of architectural treasures not only signifies the loss of physical structures but also the erasure of cultural narratives, collective memories, and the intricate connections between communities and their built past.
In a complementary manner, Nicolas Serres’ lecture offered a lens through which life cycle analysis research can be integrated into the pedagogy of architecture, fostering a critical and reflective approach. From a pedagogical point of view, the idea of life cycle and recycling deals directly with the notions of construction and deconstruction while challenging the underlying assumptions and binary thinking that often dominate traditional modes of knowledge production. For example, when deconstruction theory – as an established system of thinking- is applied to life cycle analysis, it merges into a perspective that encourages students to question the dichotomy between the built environment and its surrounding ecosystem introducing philosophical theoretical inputs. From this perspective pedagogy in architecture may engage for exemple with Derrida’s theory by emphasizing the interconnections and interdependencies between all stages of a building’s life cycle underlying the fluidity, indeterminacy, and interconnectedness of meaning and existence : from material extraction and construction to use, maintenance, and eventual demolition or adaptation. By introducing life cycle analysis research into the pedagogy of architecture, students can explore the environmental, social, economic and existential implications of architectural choices over time. This approach invites them to critically examine the ecological impact of design decisions, consider alternative materials and construction techniques, and assess the long-term sustainability of architectural interventions exploring the interconnectedness of meaning and existence. So life cycle analysis may become a transformative tool, empowering students to challenge existing paradigms, embrace complexity, and cultivate a deep sense of responsibility towards the environment, the architecture and future generations.
Lazaros Mavromatidis’ lecture offered valuable guidance for integrating specific composition techniques in architectural design, particularly in heritage contexts, to foster sustainable resilience in the face of climate change impacts. Key compositional techniques have been presented including site-specificity, contextual sensitivity, and adaptive reuse through an emphasis on deconstructing traditional dichotomies and challenging fixed meanings. Site-specificity entails a deep understanding of the site’s ecological, cultural, and historical aspects, allowing students of architecture to understand how to design in harmony with the natural environment and existing cultural fabric intertwining with life cycle analysis tools, energy assessment tools and interconnectedness of meaning and existence. Contextual sensitivity involves responding to the immediate surroundings, considering scale, proportion, and visual relationships to ensure coherence and integration within the urban or natural context. The lecture questioned also established notions of space, form, and meaning, promoting a more fluid and dynamic approach to design in relation to local microclimatic conditions. By embracing the interconnections between various aspects of architecture, such as history, heritage, context, and socio-cultural factors, the lecture incited the students to anticipate climate change by creating spaces that reflect the complexities and multiplicities of human experiences while challenging conventional boundaries. Furthermore, adaptive reuse was introduced as a sustainable approach, emphasizing the repurposing of existing structures. This method has been presented to reduce material consumption and preserve the embodied energy within the built environment. By employing these composition techniques, the lecture provided merely architectural tools and gestures with the aim that architectural design embrace sustainable resilience, creating buildings that harmonize with their surroundings, minimize environmental impact, and support the long-term well-being of both human and ecological communities.
Michal Pelczarski focused during his lecture on how the structural design plays a crucial role in the generation of forms that are inspired by architectural heritage (domes, curvilinear walls etc) and are capable of anticipating the challenges posed by climate change. He emphasized the importance of an organic and holistic approach to architecture, where the form arises from a deep understanding of its structure and materiality. When addressing climate change, structural design can also incorporate principles that promote sustainability, resilience, and adaptation. Through an amalgamation of traditional wisdom and innovative technologies, structural design can embrace the spirit of architectural heritage while proactively addressing the future challenges of climate change, creating forms that harmonize with nature, promote human well-being, and ensure a sustainable future.
In conclusion, the e-CREHA multiplier event provided precise and scientific guidance for incorporating composition techniques and scientific methodologies that can guide architectural design towards sustainable resilience in heritage contexts, mitigating the impacts of climate change. The multiplier event’s output introduced a way of thinking regarding how the e-CREHA course may be integrated in the curriculum of Schools of Architecture. e-CREHA aims to institutionalize a new way of achieving a sustainable resilience that embraces the past, responds to the present, and safeguards the future, ultimately contributing to the preservation of architectural heritage and producing novel spatialities while addressing the urgent challenges of climate change.
At the twilight of modern times, the essence of architectural heritage unveils itself as an Ariadne’s thread, connecting our past, present, and future. In the echoes of Heidegger’s words, buildings transform into vessels of collective memory, bearing witness to the historical, cultural, and existential layers of our humanity. At the core of this intricate tapestry, architectural heritage reveals our being-in-the-world, invoking profound reflection on our identity, values, and relationship with animate and inanimate nature.
Thus, in the radiance of this transdisciplinary convergence, the e-CREHA multiplier event has infused a new vision of our architectural heritage—an enlightened resilience, rooted in the past and guided by the imperatives of a harmonious future. Through the preservation of this heritage and the creation of spaces imbued with meaning, we rise above the tumults of time, weaving an architectural symphony where humanity and nature merge in an eternal dance.
In this quest, we commit to becoming vigilant guardians of this heritage, blending tradition and innovation, constructing edifices that transcend the tangible to reach the heights of inspiration. By embracing the lessons of the past and anticipating the challenges of the future, we weave a new fabric, an alliance between architecture, engineering, environment, and humanity. Thus, in the eternal architectural saga, we leave our imprint on the infinite canvas of time, allowing our heritage to rise, eternal and inspired, in service to present and future generations.