Visual Studies: Architectural Representation: Origins + Originality

Architectural representation is an ideology – a source of ideas and visionary theorizing that has an accompanying set of origins and natures.  As such, it’s prudent to study the origins of conventional techniques of architectural representation to be informed about their intentions and the specific contexts that conditioned their development.

Representation is not a conclusive index of an architecture already designed and in the past tense (produced and completed).  Rather representation is integral to the design process and the production of architecture – it is present and future tense: an active participant in exploring and making. It occurs in multiple instances and forms along the timeline of design inquiry and production; though not deterministic of the architectural project, selections of technique(s) utilized to visualize ideas influence the processing and outcome of the work.

With knowledge of the intentions of conventional representational techniques as a platform, the course pivots to consider representational riffs that are emerging in response to the contemporary context – those that explore the limits of our ‘origin arsenal’ and question what each offers for the present.  Possible paradigms of emerging original techniques that are generative and aspire to make architectural representation accountable for more than only an indexical reference to something else will be presented and discussed. 

Origins + Originality will involve readings and lectures framing the backstory on conventional representation techniques and their intentions as well as various contemporary critical stances in relation to these techniques. The course will take several field trips to locations around Harvard campus in order to see and discuss in-person an array of representational strategies and media (hand drawing, etching, painting, sculpture, digital projection, etc).   

Students will be required to write weekly reading response shorts and illustrate weekly course topics with informed examples of their own ongoing design work being produced in parallel courses.  The final project will involve isolating a representation of architecture studio work and experimenting with this through new means in order to use the representation as a tool for exploration and evolution of ideas emergent in the design process.  The final project will require articulation of both the original intention behind the selected representational technique and the specific aims toward originality in the tweaking of this technique, as explored by the student.