The language barrier

October 8, 2013



An interesting part of Petrescu’s text is on the subject of ”otherhow” pedagogy. Ruth Morrow introduces a pedagogy that reaches outside the realm of academia, and that of architects, to access the knowledge of other actors, professionals as well as regular users. She also wants students to remember life before architecture school, how they used to experience architecture before learning to perform it. (p. 6)

This addresses some very important issues in architectural education. There is a tendency towards isolation, having little contact with people outside the institution. When such contact does happen, it’s usually with architects or, at best, structural engineers. The competence of other professional groups, such as construction workers, is rarely utilised.

Another element to the question of isolation is the use of language within the architectural profession and education. I believe that often, when speaking and writing about architecture, we use words and phrases that are more complicated than strictly necessary. By doing so, we run the risk of alienating audiences without academic background, non-native speakers, or simply those who haven’t been exposed to the particular jargon developed within the architectural community. Thus we limit the number of people who can take part in debates and discussions about architecture.

This becomes, in a way, a question of democracy. The built environment impacts all who occupy it, and everyone should be allowed to take part in the decision making that creates it. The use of needlessly convoluted phrasing hinders such inclusion.

So, the tools I would like to put forward this week are the increased contact with other groups and professions who can offer valuable insights and experience, and the strive for clarity of communication, in order to allow all who wish to contribute to debates about architecture to do so, regardless of education or background.


Malin Ahlgren Bergman



Doina Petrescu, ‘Altering Practices’ in Altering Practices: Feminist Politics and Poetics of Space, London: Routledge, 2007. Petrescu, ‘Altering Practices’ in Altering Practices: Feminist Politics and Poetics of Space, London: Routledge, 2007.


One Response to “The language barrier”

  1. u1xly1zns Says:

    Interesting observation that I can relate to. I remember the struggles with new words like “inner logic”, “tactility”, “program”. Words I have now forwarded to my closest surrounding. Your thoughts make me think of doctors, lawyers struggling with the same problem of terminology when confronting “non-doctors, non-lawyers”.

    Sofia W O

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: