ESR 1 – Eric Crevels
Epistemologies of Making: Dialectics of Knowledge in Crafts and Architecture
This research addresses how different ways of making refer to and afford different ways of knowing, how can they be understood in relationships between material production and knowledge, and to which degree their study can bring insights to architectural theory and practice. The goal is to explore these questions by investigating the ways of knowing embedded into crafts — examining how knowledge is perceived, developed, articulated, and registered in material practices – and comparing it with studies on architecture through a series of ethnographic studies on architecture and crafts. The hypothesis is that different fields of practice employ specific epistemologies, ranging from a process-oriented way of thinking to an object-oriented way, that in turn shape the practitioners’ modalities of knowing. From this spectrum, I attempt to develop the outlines of a theory of knowledge in the material productions – an epistemology of making, with particular attention to its tacit dimension.
By investigating the dynamics of knowing, thinking and making in craft, it is possible to analyse architecture from the vantage point of its production, through a different set of conceptual and theoretical tools proper to material practices. An anthropology of crafts can be understood, as Roy Wagner suggests, as an “inverse anthropology” of architecture. It is an inversion of the epistemological point of departure: the concepts through which architecture is analysed in this research are not those already familiar to architectural theory (like materiality, monumentality, functionality, tectonics, space, form, design, sketch, model etc.). Instead, these become the objects of analysis, seen through the lenses of the conceptual framework employed by craftspeople. In other words, the proposal is to perform an anthropological study on crafts, understanding it from within, and analyse architecture as a form of craft and from the perspective of crafts, employing its concepts and ways of thinking, rather than as a stand-alone discipline. As such, the main object of this research could be described as the philosophy of craftspeople – their way of seeing (and knowing) the world, to illuminate the ways of knowing of architecture.
Tasks and Methodology
To discover the conceptual frameworks of crafts and its overlaps and divergences with architectural espiteme, this research will derive its discussions from a series of ethnographic research on the interfaces between architecture and crafts, in which the goal is to understand how crafts particular ways of making are associated with a particular way of knowing. A threefold approach surrounding distinct architectural and craft environments is envisioned, in an attempt to scope contrasting vantage points from their situated environments. These three perspectives are positioned along a spectrum of connecting crafts and architecture, from the more usual design practices in an architectural office to the apprenticeship of an autonomous craft, as a way to address how craft knowledge is transmitted, communicated and learned.
The attention to material, detail, use and the atmospheric qualities of the designed spaces permeates the projects of Kortenkie Stuhlmacher Architecten and construct a feeling of a finely honed practice. It entails many questions. How, being architecture such a collective and complex enterprise, can it achieve these qualities? How does architecture relates to this notion of craftsmanship and, more importantly, what lessons can architects learn by considering these practical dimensions? More importantly, what would craftsmanship mean in the perspective of these architects, and how do they make it real? How to translate such an idea into materiality? Considering these questions in a five-month secondment within the office, the proposal is to develop a critical text exploring this potential, using the office’s architectural practice as a case study – specifically, on their works on five schools, currently in different phases of design and encompassing many particular challenges and specific solutions, and using the discourses surrounding and within the office. Using Jury reports, magazine articles and other publications in tandem with interviews with the partners and employees, and comparing them with the projects’ archives, the main goal is rather simple: to provide insights into what is craftsmanship for and how it is practised in the work of Kortenie Stuhlmacher Architecten. The expectation is to argue that, taking into account the craft dimension of building, insights on collaboration, work philosophy and practical stances can be drawn from that, and that architecture should perform a dialectical, not dichotomic, connection of agents, skills and materials. I also expect to highlight the importance of the idea of craftsmanship in the constructive phases of architecture, and how that can be translated into terms of actual work practices and design strategies.
The architect and the builder, although historically divorced, still negotiate in the production stages and this relationship is permeated by questions of knowledge. The way buildings are made is a crucial reflection of these negotiations, where the skills of many tradespeople come in close contact with the architect’s practice. It expresses how architectural knowledge is shaped by craft inheritances, and is the territory where these interactions take place. Different ways of knowingareincorporated in the way architects design and think spaces, as well as how constructions workers and contractors materialize these ideas. Despite the deep entanglement between architecture and the material dimension, the production sphere of architecture is often relegated to a secondary role and the voices of those directly involved in its construction are generally left out of the theoretical and historical accounts of architecture. Seeking to remedy this reality, this research includes an archival investigation that will explore the production of knowledge from its many agents. The proposal is to address how can the knowledge of the adjacent workers in architecture (focusing on construction workers, contractors and craftspeople) be included in institutional initiatives, with particular attention on how to archive it. For the research, a five-month secondment with the Vlaams Architectuurinstitut, in Antwerp, Belgium, is planned, where the contents of the recent initiatives of creating an archive of building companies will be compared to traditional architectural archiving methods and collections. The main goal is to analyse how the agency and knowledge of craftspeople are represented in traditional archiving methods within architectural cultural institutions and develop alternatives methods for their inclusion and exposition.
Dissemination and Communication
The results of this research are expected to be disseminated through multiple outputs. The findings of the practical secondment will result in a booklet published in collaboration with Korteknie Stuhlmacher Architecten, and the individual analysis of projects will be sent to architectural magazines and websites. From the archival secondment, the production of an academic paper is expected, envisioning its publication in historiography centred peer-reviewed journals. The ethnographic research on crafts, on the other hand, is expected to be presented in conferences and journals focusing on crafts, contributing to bringing the discussions of architecture closer to the rising field. Finally, the research will culminate in a dissertation and made available through the repositories of TU Delft, with the potential to be further developed into a book.
More questions? Send Eric an email.
Journals and Book Chapters
Crafting Landscapes or Mountains, Forests and Farms: indigenous entanglements of culture, environment and technique
Paper presented at the Under the Landscape Symposium, Therasia, Greece in June 2022 and selected for composing the upcoming book.
Trabalho, Receituário e Alienação na Arquitetura: Apontamentos Críticos à Prática do Arquiteto (Labour, prescription and alienation in architecture: critical notes on the architect’s practice.)
Journal article (in Portuguese). Revista Thesis. 7, 13, p. 28-43 15 p.
Política de Remoções em Belo Horizonte (Eviction Policy in Belo Horizonte)
Book Chapter (in Portuguese). Co-authored with Baltazar, A. P., Costa, M., Melo, C., & Furiati, L. in Moradia e Outras Margens. Kapp, S. & Baltazar, A. (eds.). MOM edições, p. 459-479 20 p.
Knowledge in Architecture: draughtsmanship or craftsmanship?
In: Academia Letters. Article 4289, 5 p., 4289.
Aspectos da Conceitualização do Trabalho em Marx: Alienação como Abstração Concreta (Aspects of the Conceptualization of Labour in Marx: Alienation as a Concrete Abstraction)
Journal article (in Portuguese). Marx e o Marxismo vol 8-14 . Niep. UFF. Niterói, Brazil
Journal article (in Portuguese). Revista Parahyba – vol 3. Programa de Educação Tutorial (EAUFMG), Belo Horizonte, Brazil
Crafting Landscapes or Mountains, Forests and Farms: indigenous entanglements of culture, environment and technique Paper presented at Under the Landscape Symposium, Greece, June 2022.
A Joint of Many Worlds: Entangled Stories in Battaile en Ibens’s 78+ Construction System in Timber
Timber and Construction: Proceedings of the Ninth Conference of the Construction History Society. Campbell, J., Baker, N., Driver, M., Heaton, M., Ruamsanitwong, N., Wall, C. & Yeomans, D. (eds.). 1 ed. p. 551-562 11 p.
The Tangible Presence of Human Labor in Architecture.
Two-volume edition by the International Ambiances Network, volume 4, “Ambiances, Alloaesthesia: Senses, Inventions, Worlds” the 4th International Congress on Ambiances
Labor, prescription and alienation in architecture: critical notes on the architect’s practice.
(in Portuguese). Anais do VI ENANPARQ, vol 11, Brasília, Brazil
Urban Predation: the symbolic economy of Pixo
With Alice Queiroz. Digital Proceedings critic|all International – Conference on Architectural Design & Criticism, São Paulo 25-26 March 2021. Colmenares, S. & Medrano, L. (eds.). Madrid, São Paulo: critic|all PRESS , p. 479-487 9 p.
One and Many Details: Considering the Contingencies of Building as Empirical Evidence for Architectural Pedagogy.
With Jorge Mejia Hernandez (TU Delft), presented at the “VII Simposio de Investigación en Arquitectura: Proyecto, Tradición, Procedimientos”
Social Housing Policy in Belo Horizonte: Road design, investment in capitals and evictions X improving socio‐spatial conditions.
With Ana Paula dos Santos (UFMG), Márcia Helena da Costa (UFMG), Cíntia Melo and Lucas Furiati. Paper publication (in Portuguese). Anais do XVII ENANPUR, vol 17. São Paulo, Brazil
Thesis and dissertations
Ensaios de Resistência: Uma Proposta de Prática Arquitetônica pela Perspectiva do Trabalho (Essays on Resistance: a proposal of an architectural practice by the perspective of labour)
Dissertation defended as requirement for obtaining the Master’s Degree in Architecture and Urbanism at the Programa de Pós-Graduação em Arquitetura e Urbanismo da Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (NPGAU-UFMG), under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Silke Kapp.
Autonomia e Construção: A Biblioteca Milton Santos (Autonomy and Construction: The Milton Santos Library)
Dissertation defended as requirement for obtaining the Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture and Urbanism at the Escola de Arquitetura da Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (EA-UFMG), under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Margarete Maria de Araújo Silva.
Other Publications, Lectures, Workshops and Events
Editorial board member and curator, “Unausgesprochenes Wissen / Unspoken Knowledge / Le (savoir) non-dit” Exhibition, planned for June 2023, ETH Zurich
Editorial board member “Tacit Knowledge in Architecture” Conference, Planned for June 2023, ETH Zurich
Speaker, “Epistemologies of Making: Dialectics of knowledge in crafts and architecture” at Theories of Architecture Fellowship Program Seminar, TU Delft
Speaker, “Building Stories; accounts from archival research at the Vlaams Architectuurinstituut” at the Situated Architecture Research Group seminar, TU Delft
“Capitalocene” Glossary entry for the Women Writing Architecture online platform. Available at: https://womenwritingarchitecture.org/.
Technical consultancy and production in Paula Strunden’s “Alison’s Room” VR installation at Het Nieuwe Instituut, Rotterdam.
Speaker, “Field studies and ethical research” at the Situated Architecture Research Group seminar, TU Delft
Editorial board member and moderator at the TACK TALKS “How to? A guide to knowing” with Sophie de Caigny (Vlaams Architectuurinstituut), Dirk van den Heuvel (Het Niewe Instituut) and Monika Platzer (Architektutzentrum Wien). (Round table live presentation)
“Canteiros da Utopia” Online book review for the Women Writing Architecture online platform. Available at: https://womenwritingarchitecture.org/.
Speaker, “Ethnographical findings on the work of Korteknie Suthlmacher Architecten” at the Situated Architecture Research Group seminar, TU Delft
“KSA” Fanzine. Presented at the Intermediary Training Meeting of the TACK Network at Politecnico de Milano.
“Being an in-house researcher at VAi” online article. Available at: https://tacit-knowledge-architecture.com/
“Some Impressions of the Venice Architecture Biennale” online article. Available at: https://tacit-knowledge-architecture.com/
Speaker, “Epistemologies of making: dialectics of knowledge in craft and architecture” at PhD Seminar of the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, TU Delft
Respondent at the TACK TALKS “How do we know?” with Mechthild Stulhmacher from Korteknie Stulhmacher. (Round table live presentation)
Moderator at the Situated Architecture Research Group discussion with guest lecturer Sami Rintala (from Rintala Eggertson Architects), TU Delft
Speaker, “Epistemologies of making: a research project” at the Situated Architecture Research Group seminar, TU Delft
Workshop Instructor, “Metalworking workshop Abrindo Vãos: crafts and heritage”, Belo Horizonte, Brazil
Speaker, “Sobre mobilário” lecture at Faculdade UNA, Belo Horizonte, Brazil
Workshop Instructor, “Metalworking and self-sufficiency at Vila das Antenas”, Belo Horizonte, Brazil
Workshop Instructor, “Metalworking classes for architecture professors”, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil
”O que você sabe sobre o Lixo?” Research and production of an informative banner for PISEAGRAMA’s Urbe Urge Project, Belo Horizonte, Brazil
Speaker, “Building with Bamboo: a Biblioteca Milton Santos” at I Simpósio de Sustentabilidade, Universidade do Contestado, Curitibanos, Brazil
Workshop Instructor, “Metalworking Atelier: making a stool”, Belo Horizonte, Brazil
Technical consultancy and production in Flavia Regaldo’s “de Passagem” installation at Palácio das Artes, Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
Speaker, “Autonomia e Construção: a Biblioteca Milton Santos” at Debates TCC Seminar, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil
Workshop Instructor, “Metalworking Atelier: stick welding processes”, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil
Prizes, awards and distinction
XI Bienal de Arquitetura São Paulo; Exhibition of the work ‘O que você sabe sobre o lixo?’ São Paulo, Brazil
UAI-LINE competition; Honorary Mention: Uai Line: Concurso de ideias + Crowdfunding, Instituto Metodista Izabela Hendrix.
OPERA PRIMA competition; Selected to represent the UFMG in the national competition with The Milton Santos Library project.
ARCHDAILY The Best Student Work Worldwide: Arch Daily Readers Show Us their Studio Projects. Featured the project of the Milton Santos Library.
AU-Pini magazine: Abrigo de Bambu. Dedicated article about the Milton Santos Library. São Paulo, 2015.
COARQUITETURA exhibition. Architecture student design exhibition featuring my project “VAZIO”,