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On Twists and Turns. Architecture, Design and Judgment


Hans Teerds

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Architects design in different ways, but rarely in the form of waiting for a singular hunch. Most often, instead, designing is hard work, reassessing material again and again, until the moment the various facets come together convincingly. In this paper, I use Hannah Arendt’s discussion of judgment in order to understand the process of design. Arendt borrows her understanding from Immanuel Kant, but draws it out of his aesthetic perspective and reassesses it into a political context. She emphasizes how a community is a necessary prerequisite for every judgment made. It is not enough to simply hear what others say, but one need to be able to think from that particular situation, in order to judge the validity of that perspective. I see a parallel here with design, though architects operate in different communities. The main challenge of design then is to connect these communities through the design and to understand what kind of information and knowledge can be gained within the different communities. By drawing the parallel, I will discuss the different knowledge communities wherein architects operate, and how 'judgment' offers a model of activating various knowledge systems.

This paper will be presented at the TACK Conference in the paper session ACTORS, 21 June 2023 between 09:30 – 12:00 (CEST) at ETH Zürich (Auditorium HPV G5).

Hans Teerds is an architect and urban designer, who works as a senior lecturer and researcher at the Chair of the History and Theory of Urban Design at ETH Zurich. His research bridges between political philosophy, architecture and urban design, examining the public aspects of the built environment.