Ephemeral architectures: towards a process architecture by Charles Anderson

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This PhD responds to a two fold problem with the philosophy of design and the practice of design. The philosophical problem is stated as the discrepancy between a dominant philosophical framework that orders the world according to eternal essences and the actual conditions of the world in which we exist: the conditions of becoming and of flux.

Commencing with a critique of the western metaphysical tradition of statics this research project proposes that we need to find a way of describing an evolutionary model of practice, and by so doing to provide a revitalised narration of process. Consequently, the PhD explores the meanings of process through a critical examination of an ensemble of projects created by the author. Within this framework, a number of questions are posed in order to explore the proposition of a process practice. These questions are: What is process? How does one think process? Indeed, how do we get to grasp change? What are the consequences of process thinking on the practices of design, their fields of operation, and their productions? And, how can the thematising of process contribute to the design of the constructed environment, as well as reconfigure the practices of design?

This thematising of process is argued to involve a necessary address to the constitutive and interrelated characteristics of process: space/time, movement, change, form and matter. Such an address is also seen to problematise the status of the object, the paradigms of representation, the modes of creation, the economies of exchange, and the structures of community, and to offer a modality of practice which would re-imagine the forms of social exchange to offer an ethical alternative to the tyranny of supply and demand, and thereby reconfigure the potential for dwelling.

Making an overview of the discourses and practices engaging with theories of becoming, this thesis argues that almost all of these re-inscribe statics and that consequently the practice of design seems to drag behind our understanding of the world. Through a meditation on dis/appearance, in which the dynamics of being and becoming and the restless ambiguity of the gap are examined, the work establishes a process vocabulary, and makes clear through a material practice, the domains of process thinking, its inclinations, and the kinds of operations and procedures that flourish there.

Foregrounding the fertile character of process practice, the PhD then proceeds to introduce notions of the movement-form, the duration-form, the transformational-form, the geometry of encounter, and to argue for physical form as an in-movement poise. Advocating new modes of approach and of attentiveness, and demonstrating new generative methods, this PhD argues that process thinking is not simply an operational stance, but an ethical position that identifies a field of care, and that consequently the design practices be expanded by taking seriously the relationship between process thinking and place making. Thus, this thesis concludes by advocating a mode of place making which, rather than reproduce planned environments as systems of control, configures place as the discursive contested place of encounter and exchange.

Year: 2009
Examiners: Bill Fox, Scott McQuire, Linda Marie Walker  Supervisers: Professor Leon van Schaik, Prof Paul Carter


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