»PEEK« 2014 Research Proposal

Design Paradigm – Performing the Architectural Design Process is a pioneering research project which focuses on the architectural design process of the 20th and 21st centuries and its ambition to incorporate temporality. Referring to the legacy of Modernism to anticipate future changes in use, structure or space, we presume that the design process itself has become a highly social and communicative performance whose investigation requires new research methods. We believe that the design process is itself a conceptual practice comparable to a “speech-act” which will be examined within the context of what cultural theorists call the “performative turn”. Even though the performative turn is mainly researched and observed in cultural fields such as theater, performance art, rituals and politics we are confident that understanding the process of architectural design as being a performative practice will be a promising new way of analysing and understanding architecture. It is a novel approach also allowing the audience to become engaged in the object and process of research, the performance.
The project proposes a combination of formats featuring case studies, laboratory sessions, a website/publication and an exhibition which will interact and inform one another by addressing these issues from different angles. The three case studies will perform the many spatial and temporal aspects of the architectural design process and will culminate in an exhibition. Case study °1, Make Yourself a(t) Home, will be led by Waltraud Indrist and will re-enact the peculiar interior photographs of houses by Hans Scharoun. According to her research, Scharoun presented these photographs in a series of booklets in order to further communicate his design intentions. In effect, these photographs retroactively stage the design ideas of the houses which are enacted by the inhabitants, the subjects of the photographs. By re-enacting and examining how these domestic scenes were staged and constructed, this case study will explore the extent to which Scharoun presents humans “being in their be-ing”.

Eva Sommeregger’s case study °2, Watching the Moving Body is Becoming the Moving Body, will visually and physically trace the many projective activities a human body undertakes while driving a car, examining the ways in which they can be mapped and conveyed spatially. The spatial complexity of everyday activity within the 21st century seems an apt field of investigation for using performative techniques which can then be transferred to the architectural design process. And finally case study °3, Re-Designing Architecture, led by Angelika Schnell, Eva Sommeregger and Waltraud Indrist, will examine how modern and contemporary architects designed the design process itself. It will interpret results from several courses taught at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. Furthermore case study °3 will create a theoretical framework for the Design Paradigm project by means of a website and a publication. In addition to the case studies, lab sessions featuring experts in the field will be held which connect Design Paradigm to current discourses on the “performative turn”.
Within Design Paradigm, performativity is used as both the object and method of investigation. Utilising “performative methods” we will explore the possibility of applying design-based research within architecture. The project will also provide new and fruitful intellectual and artistic exchanges with the arts, cultural studies and disciplines that are engaged within the discourse of performativity. The project will allow for sharing the practice of the architectural design process with a broader audience, as it will make visible and tangible that this process lies in everyday practices and informs the lives of many.

[Proposal text]