Critical Dialogues Seminar – new practice in Europe

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The Critical Dialogues exhibition at The Lighthouse showcased Scotland’s contribution to the International Architecture Exhibition of the Biennale Architettura 2012. A week-long sequence of events-based-architecture considered the social role of the architect under the theme of ‘Common Ground’.

To broaden discussion, A&DS and the Scottish Government, hosted a seminar to explore emerging trends in architectural practice set against a context of challenging economic times and limited work opportunities, where the global recession has acted as a stimulus to prompt ‘new ways of doing’.

The seminar featured contributions from Spain (Gonzalo Herrero Delicado / DOT aaa) and Holland (Indira van t’Klooster / A10), along with presentations from each of the four young Glasgow based practices that contributed to the Biennale – DO Architecture, GRAS, Pidgin Perfect and Stone Opera – based on the four themes of:

  • new ways of seeing and observing: understand people and places through ‘drift and discovery’
  • celebrating the architecture of everyday life: objects that can be overlooked or taken for granted
  • architecture of community engagement: collaborative effort, that isn’t ‘every man for himself’
  • engaging with the architecture of ‘play’: connecting people with the built environment

Spanish and Dutch examples helped to set a broader context, and illustrated an array of inspiring practice from across Europe that demonstrated new and experimental approaches to dealing with: stalled spaces, engaging with the public and communities, collaborating, using new technologies and techniques, and delivering projects.

Key themes emerging from the subsequent discussion included:

  • potential for ‘the end of architecture as we know it’
  • a changing definition from a traditional view of architecture to ‘anything’/problem solving role
  • a transformative architecture based on social, ethical and moral values
  • an architecture of strategy, programmes and agendas, rather than projects/products
  • an architecture based on flexible concepts, social issues and needs
  • architecture of: buildings/projects; of ideas; of engagement and collaboration
  • opportunities to re-engage directly with the brief and the client
  • an occasional need to ‘sidestep’ rules, regulations and bureaucracy to ‘make things happen’
  • a shrinking economy fosters new approaches; but will these revert if ‘boom times’ re-appear
  • architecture as a means to collaborate and re-engage with others
  • the difference between architecture as practice v ideas/culture/thinking

The exhibition was supported by Scottish Government, British Council and Creative Scotland, and ran until the April 10th 2012 at The Lighthouse, Glasgow.

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