2021: Built Order
The architecture of the space around us has a considerable influence on our everyday lives. However, the resulting layout is rarely accidental and unintentional. Architects who design government and administrative buildings, urban spaces, libraries or other built structures have always been guided by the aesthetic as well as functional requirements and needs that are placed on the buildings and architectures they design. The result is architecturally manifested space that intends to reflect and constitute political-social orders and ideals or designed with regard to specific forms of exercising and securing power. As part of its annual theme of 2021 “Built Order”, the LOEWE research project “Architectures of Order: Practices and Discourses between Design and Knowledge” will deal with various spaces of power in the first half of the year and investigate the interrelationship of architectural and spatial with political and social orders as well as cultural practices.
The starting point for the thematic orientation of the second half of the year, “Storing Knowledge,” is the observation that architecture configures knowledge spatially and thus plays a significant role in the modulation, enforcement, canonization and institutionalization of epistemic models. Archives, libraries, museums and universities can be understood as materialized knowledge orders: the knowledge that is collected, selected, ordered, indexed and mediated in these places is framed spatially. The project will investigate the extent to which the concrete architectural framing has an effect on organizational or knowledge structures. On a smaller scale, the medium of the book represents a comparable process of selection, categorization and stabilization of knowledge. Here, strategies of spatializing content, in terms of architectural ordering metaphors or structures, are used to guide cognitive processes. Digitizing books or entire collections presents new challenges regarding the type of presentation, findability and how content is linked; at the same time, established systems of order are transferred into the new medium. Questions of protection, accessibility and availability also arise in both physical and virtual space.
In 2021, we want to approach these topics through a variety of event formats – including lectures, panel discussions and workshops – and will include historical and theoretical perspectives as well as those from archival and construction practices.
2022: Designing Order
The third year of the project deals with questions of the importance of design both as an indicator of the effectiveness of regulatory concepts and as a process of their creation. In joint events, the theory will be examined to determine whether architectural design plays a key role in the analysis of scientific and social practices of order at the intersection of science and empirical knowledge.
A lecture series with the working title “Designing Order – Ordering Design” is planned for 2022. This will include lectures by renowned Hessian and international architecture and engineering firms in which they will present their current architectural designs with regard to the creation of order(s). On the one hand, this format will provide a collection of contemporary architectural practices of order; on the other hand, the public will be informed about current construction projects.
The fourth project year will serve to provisionally specify the insights gained and to discuss further questions that will be the focus of subsequent projects. This is to be achieved through the polarizing juxtaposition of figures of order and chaos. After all, structures of order often only become visible when they are contrasted with their criticism, deconstruction or strategic subversion. The project’s conceptualization of architecture as a mechanism for a better understanding of social practices of order should thus be convincingly outlined.
A final international conference with the working title “The Architecture of (Dis)Order: Plan or Chaos” is planned for 2023.
2020: Architecture as Metaphor
We commonly and ubiquitously use architectural metaphors in both everyday speech as well as various professional contexts. Yet we rarely, if at all, register this connection when we talk, for example, about software architects, thought constructs, pillars of society, the architecture of the brain or the façade a person puts up. At the same time, metaphors also feature prominently in the fields of architecture and urbanism, where they are being used for the development of design concepts and provide useful means to communicate, discuss and evaluate design features. Examples range from crystalline buildings to the fabric of a city, but also include Le Corbusier’s infamous description of houses as ‘machines for living in.’
This research project aims to explore metaphors as productive mediators in processes of knowledge transfer between the fields of architecture and everyday knowledges and between architectural and other professional discourses. It thus contributes to a broader investigation of architecture as a cultural practice of ordering.
Metaphors, to us, provide a lens that allows us to zoom in on and examine the involvement of architecture in processes of social ordering. Our premise is that metaphors are not merely explanatory in their function but instead interfere with epistemological thought and production processes. Metaphors rely on the incongruity between a particular term and the context within which it is being deployed, creating a space of continuous re-interpretation. The meaning of a metaphor thus oscillates between the body of knowledge from which the metaphor stems and that within which it is used. Through transferring aspects of one field’s body of knowledge to another, metaphors disseminate and thereby consolidate social or disciplinary hierarchies, norms, and protocols inscribed in the original body of knowledge. This consequently raises questions regarding the ways in which architecture as a practice of ordering interrelates with societal as well as disciplinary structures, orders, and knowledges. Hence, we are not only interested in the connection between different fields, but also different forms of knowledge that metaphors can facilitate and how this relates to architecture.
The first year of the project ended with the interdisciplinary conference “Architektur_Metapher”, which took place on 5-7 November 2020.