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Following John Hejduk's Fabrications: on imagination and reality in the architectural design process

  • Jane Anderson (a1) and Colin Priest (a2)

Extract

This paper investigates the interaction between reality and imagination in the architectural design process. It engages with four inter-related inquiries. First, the interplay between reality and imagination in the architectural design process in student design-build live projects. Second, the interplay of reality and imagination for different agents in the architectural design process. Third, how the work of John Hejduk (1929-2000) enables a reappraisal of conceptions of reality and imagination in architectural design. Fourth, we address a live project for The Story Museum in Oxford, UK – a physical architectural space concerned with imaginary spaces – that suggests how an understanding of reality and imagination might be deepened in the architectural design process.

The text reappraises the interplay of reality and imagination in architectural design as a cognitive process. There are two aims: to reassess empirical responses and received wisdom about what is real and what is imagined in architectural design; and to reassess the perception of differences between imagination and reality occurring across education and practice. ‘Thing Theory’ is proposed as a conceptual framework which allows us to improve our understanding of how architectural designs emerge, are transformed in the designer's mind, how architects communicate them to others and how they are understood and shared by others. Reference is also made to interviews with prominent architects. The term ‘thing’ was repeatedly used by these architects to describe moments in the design process when a break from reality had occurred. In these moments, subject and object seemed at their most intertwined. This moment is strong because it is so flexible in responding to change and managing complexity. It is also weak because it is a time when the designer tends to neglect vital everyday constraints such as occupation and ethics. However, this is a key moment because it allows possible future realities to emerge.

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Following John Hejduk's Fabrications: on imagination and reality in the architectural design process

  • Jane Anderson (a1) and Colin Priest (a2)

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