What is architecture?

October 16, 2013


I struggled with the readings this week, and found both, but especially Teyssot’s, difficult to grasp. While reading, I often wondered how the various topics were relevant to architecture. Because of these difficulties, I don’t have any insights to share regarding the contents of the readings.

I was, however, forced to reflect on what I mean when I use the word ”architecture”. While not exactly defined, I have always laboured under the assumption that some things are included in the word, and some excluded as ”not architecture”. Some works are within the discipline, and some are outside it. I think this division was what stopped me from properly understanding the readings. I could not focus on the content as I was too busy searching for any references to “real architecture”.

What is, in reality, the purpose of defining and distinguishing disciplines? What is gained from it? It certainly simplifies communication. If everyone means the same thing by the word architecture, we will understand each other better. Clear definitions also make it easier to decide on curriculums for educational programs and so forth. So, for logistical reasons, there seems to be a case for strictly separating one discipline from another.

However, if I put a limit on what architecture can be, I also limit what I as an architect can do. And that is surely not something I want to do. With that in mind, the power tool I would like to offer myself this week is the ability to look past the rigid categorisation of the world I have created for myself, and thus be able to see and understand things that are hidden from me now. And if I can’t completely let go of the compulsion to define myself and my discipline (as perhaps I shouldn’t), I should, whenever faced with the need to decide whether something can be included in the word architecture, be generous with my verdicts.


Malin Ahlgren Bergman


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