Theory of Architecture
Sanford Kwinter, o.Univ.Prof. PhD
Andrea Börner, Univ.Ass. Dipl.Ing.
Theory is an indispensible element of the design process and represents the systematic component of what is increasingly referred to as “design thinking”. Theory also performs a bridging function; it connects to, and prepares a place for related disciplines and cultures within the sciences and the humanities as they too seek to account for the transformations of experience of time and space that are marking—and making—our world today.
Academic theory has been relegated almost exclusively to the analysis of past or existing objects and works yet it is nowhere more effectively or inventively deployed than in the speculative and generative stages of design practice. At the Angewandte theory is seen as the integration of knowledge into design, as a discipline that deliberately changes how we think in order to change not only how, but what we design (much as ‘theory’ is practiced in physics, laying the conceptual foundations and directions for ‘experimentalists’).
A first task is to demystify the overly complicated languages that have in the last decades surrounded the world of contemporary theory by focusing directly on foundational concepts and patterns of modern thought and to root these as broadly as possible in the context of historical practice. There is growing misunderstanding in the design disciplines today as to where theory ‘comes from’, how and why it is to be used, and what the nature of its urgency is. Through a program of focused lectures and seminars an account of contemporary ‘thought’ (as a corrective to the platitudes to which we are too often led by ‘common sense’) is provided primarily with respect to the systems of thought and culture that generated it: Marx, Freud, and Nietzsche. The program at the Angewandte addresses emerging developments in science, philosophy, urban and technological culture, and acknowledges that a new cosmopolitan, transdisciplinary and experimental approach is in great need today as architecture and design begin to engage all aspects of cultural, technical and aesthetic speculation.