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TACK Talk #3 – Concepts of Authorship in Architecture

The next TACK Talk on “Authorship in Architecture” will be held in Vienna on Monday 21th March 2022, 7pm CEST by Prof. Dr. Christoph Grafe and Prof. Dr. Peg Rawes.

Watch this talk live on Youtube.

Prof. Dr. Christoph Grafe, Bergische Universität Wuppertal

The concept of authorship, and its association with a single (European, male, heterosexual) individual, is ingrained in the complex of tacit assumptions about what constitutes a work of art and its production. Perhaps somewhat ironically it is applied also to architectural works of art, which are, by definition, the product of collective endeavours. The specific nature of the processes of designing buildings and getting them realised – the realities of an essentially situated form of cultural practice – may even be an explanation for the persistent emphasis on the individual in whose heroic vision the original idea for the work resides. The need to establish and exert authorial authority in a highly volatile field of power relationships between financiers, officials, builders and users requires a set of tacit strategies of persuasion, of forging a temporary collective and of coercing others to follow in acts of self-exploitation. The question is, however, if in our current circumstances the concept of individual authorship is not a cul-de-sac, preventing the processes of invention and innovative thinking that would be necessary for addressing a practice that is more collaborative than it has been in the past and which operates in a culture that professes to question rather than valuing authority. Is there not also a need to conceptualise, regain and possibly invent alternative notions of authorship which may be more diffuse, but still no less effective in producing works of art (aka significant cultural statements) in architecture? What would this mean for the modus operandi of those who engage with these creative and social processes, and how might the deep intellectual and emotional ownership that is a precondition for conceiving and making architecture be retained, framed and even intensified in new organisations of labour for this old discipline, and for establishing innovative communities of practice?

Prof. Dr. Peg Rawes, Bartlett, UC London

Communities of Tacit Knowledge share value systems. The norms and standards within the practice of architecture are, however, also informed by the culture within which they emerge and operate. Unravelling the intricate relations between contextual (culture-based) value systems and the disciplinary values of architecture is central to the IRP ‘Values’.

Peg Rawes will discuss tacit knowledge in architectural authorship with respect to current political, ethical and environmental values.