Category Archives: ARC556 – Dissertation

Alternate Practice : Is the professional practice of architecture sustainable?

Module: ARC556




Teddy Cruz on architectural epistemology…

(For anyone confused by the gap between me sounding very fed up in Tel Aviv, and this post – I’ll backdate it as soon as I can upload the photographs)

Trying to get my head back into my dissertation, I’ve been looking back at the material I have collected over the last few months. I’m trying to draw a ‘Practice Diagram’, as alluded to by Teddy Cruz in the video below. It should usefully serve as a record of the contingency of my research, and help to make sense of the emerging argument running through it.

As Cruz says, “…as artists, we like to think [of the world as] palimpsest; dense, rich. But we need [sometimes] to make sense. As artists we [sometimes] hide in ambiguity, where not knowing is also important…but we need [here] to get to a level of specificity, committing to a certain set of ideas that can rigorously take us through a process”.

Thus, I hope the Practice Diagram will be a way to navigate through the complex sets of ideas I’ve been assembling, exacerbated by an innate inability to reject anything I find along the way. I’m developing a bit of an interest in ‘architectural epistemology’! i.e. On what basis do we claim to know what we know? How do we go about knowing? Important questions I feel, for a discipline that makes claims to professional knowledge, especially amidst growing doubt about what we do, actually, know…

(Presentation recorded at the Designing Civic Encounters conference, Ramallah, Palestine on 24/07/2011. Further material is available here)

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Summer Travels 2011….(1)


Thought I’d give this blogging thing a go while I am away…two reasons really; one, to keep in touch, and two, to write as I go, which might help me out at a later date if I need to put any presentations together….

So here goes.

I’m currently sat in the cafeteria at Roskilde University in Denmark, having skipped out of the morning sessions for one reason only. Because they were dull. I am definitely suffering from conference fatigue….

The introduction to the conference…


However, both the first and second days were great…really useful for the dissertation, and enlightening as to the wider theory around the subject I am studying (which for those that don’t know is social enterprise in the specific context of architectural design and Localism in the UK). The paper I am here to present went down fairly well yesterday…i think that, in the graveyard slot at 18:15 (!) people just liked seeing my pretty pictures in the slideshow….but I got some good questions and useful comments. It was a strange experience though….having had my nerves soothed by the kindly Irish facilitator and having helped a smug but confused Frenchman find his powerpoint, I had to squeeze myself in between an impenetrable Finn and a gung-ho Australian and deliver my (by this point severly humbled) case study (Hill Holt Wood) and plea for rigorous academic advice. If you’re interested, the paper can be found here (Brown_S_Exploring Architecture in Civil Society), and the slideshow, without audio, can be found here (Sam Brown – EMES – Exploring Architecture in Civil Society – 97-2003 ).

I’m also going to try and use lots of different ways to record the things I do and see…including an embarrassing web video, which you can find below). I’ll be using photographs, and audio from the dictaphone as I walk around places. Varying the method makes it less of a chore, and actually I think it helps me to remember things…each observation is then attached to a set of conditions that stay in the memory longer.

So yeah, thats it for the time being! Those of you that like this sort of thing might enjoy it, those of you that take the piss, will take the piss, which I’m pretty used to by now 😛


Roskilde University…


Until the next time I feel compelled to write something, here’s my first video diary…

Diary entry 1 – 05/07/2011 pt.1

Diary entry 1 – 05/07/2011 pt.2


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Initiating Architecture…







Initiating Architecture is a Doctoral Research Project being undertaken at the Sheffield School of Architecture by Anna Holder, under the supervision of Prue Chiles and Cristina Cerulli (who is also my dissertation supervisor).

I share some of the project’s motivations and aims, and find the website linked above a useful and worthwhile resource for my own dissertation. Anna is currently compiling a long-list of projects initiated for social or public good,so if you have something to offer then drop her a line via the website!

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Noun: The actual application or use of an idea, belief, or method as opposed to theories about such application or use.

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Hill Holt Wood at Ecobuild…

Hill Holt Wood are taking a stand at this year’s Ecobuild Exhibition / Trade Fair…examples of their work, and details of their presentation can be found here.


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EMES Conference, Denmark…

This week I am aiming to submit an abstract for consideration to the 3rd Emes International Research Conference on Social Enterprise, for which the theme is ‘Social Innovation through social entrepreneurship in a civil society’. The conference takes place in Roskilde, Denmark, from 4th to 7th July 2011….

Abstract (Draft) – Emes Research Conference on Social Enterprise

Call for Papers

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John Habraken

John Habraken is a potential source for dissertation (role of the architect), ARC571 (architectural education) and studio (Open Building)


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Rule of Thirds…(tactics)

I’ve found that when I do written assignments, I always write about one third too much (in relation to the prescribed word count…). Although it is perhaps a necessary part of my process (I tend to write a lot and then reduce it down to the most eloquent parts), I could do with reducing the amount by which I ‘overwrite’…

I find that the most productive parts of writing are when I change activity or environment….sitting at the laptop at a desk all day (until you get something done!) is just not always the best way…

For example, with the a recent assignment on methodology, the biggest surges in self-confidence came when I watched the videos of the speakers again, and made detailed notes (I felt like I now knew my subject…) and when I printed out a current copy and went through it with a big red pen (I could comprehend the extent of what I had written, and engage with it in a more intuitive way than through mouse and keyboard…). Maybe I should just be more agile in my approach to writing?

I also need reminding that its important to keep the phrase ‘I’ out of academic writing, despite the style of much of the edgy pop-architecture literature that gets pushed my way…

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Proposal submitted…

Proposal submitted.

Abstract coming soon…(link to a google doc?)

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