CWR – excercise 3 – position > concept

As I was home ill today, I had to make my own sense of the excercises and hope that I understood the tasks.

The third task is about taking the positions we discovered in the text yesterday and relating and transforming it into something we can use in our own work this semester. In my studio we are working with transforming Kalø Slotsruin – a medieval castle ruin. Our studio is very concerned with craftsmanship and structure – and the text we have been reading is very directly related to these subjects.

 

First I chose one of our extracted positions from Sennett’s “The Craftsman”


Architecture gets better when there is close colloboration between architects, craftsmen and other relevant groups – together on the site preferably. (p.33.)

  • Flat structure (no or little hierarchy)
  • Idea and craft have to work together in experimentation to develop.
    • In that sense craftsmanship and architecture are the same thing.
  • Shared commitment to the task and to the company (p.31.)

 

I related this to my project work thusly:


Transforming an existing structure (such as Kalø Slotsruin) one must, whether contrasting or adhering to, position oneself according to the idea and craftsmanship that went into the original project.

Thusly – any experiments, and decisions in the project, in both thought and practical matters, must be based on said position. In a dialogue between the old and the new – between craft and idea.

CWR Workshop – day 01

Today was the first day of a critical reflection workshop at Aarhus School of Architecture, introducing the written aspects of our Masters Programme.

Each studio had selected relevant texts for us to read and perform a variety of excercises with over the coming three days. My studio – Studio Building Design – was to read parts of american sociologist Richard Sennett’s book “The Craftsman” from 2008.

The first task was to create a short summary – or précis – of the text.

 


Richard Sennett, American Sociologist famous for his work with urbanism.

Writes in his book from 2008 “The Craftsman”

Sennett writes about how the role and esteem of the craftsman has been diminished and how this has become a problem for the development of society. Starting from ancient times where the craftsman was highly regarded and there was a strong community around the idea of craft and “making things better”. Craftmanship slowly became degraded in the collective consiousness of the cultural elite, and therefore society. The making of society became seperated from the thinking behind society. This separation of thinking and doing, Sennett claims, is harmful to human development.

 

Another degredation also took place, between mens crafts and womens crafts. Only traditional men’s crafts done outside the home are even today considered “crafts”. He compares parenting and plumbing as an example. Sennett, in connection with this, mentions Plato, who said that seperating people into different boxes made them unavare that they were working for the same greater good.

He then goes on to talk about open-source against closed corporate stuctures – how the sense of community and the openness between the workers improves a product much faster than internal competition in a corporate structure.

In a political sense he concludes that, neither ‘doing it for the greater good’ (marxism) or individual competition (capitalism) provide as much incentive to make something better than the concept of corporation simply for the sake of the work itself. Not for the recognition or mother Russia.


 

The second task was to extract Sennett’s architectural positions from the text and make a list of them

 


 

Architecture gets better when there is close colloboration between architects, craftsmen and other relevant groups – together on the site preferably. (p.33.)

  • Flat structure (no or little hierarchy)
  • Idea and craft have to work together in experimentation to develop.
    • In that sense craftsmanship and architecture are the same thing.
  • Shared commitment to the task and to the company (p.31.)

Quality of craftsmanship is higher, when craftsmen are empowered by their work and allowed to make descisions about it – as well as question their leadership. (p.31.)

  • Allowed to use skills and knowledge to affect the architecture.
  • Passion and pride motivates good work better than working for money.
    • Loyalty to company -> accumulation of knowledge -> quality
      • If a building has not been crafted with respect, the inhabitants will feel it – and treat with disrespect, creating socially troubled areas (grafitti, trash in the streets, etc.) (p.29.)

Experience in every craft is passed down through generations and built upon. This development happens faster if people are encouraged to collaborate rather than compete against each other.

Good architecture demands good craftsmanship, which depends on willingness to invest time in quality rather than economy. (p.45)

  • Knowing a craft allows you to work freely with it and develop ideas better. Unskilled people can only work towards a fixed goal.
  • This quality also comes from knowing the relationship between different crafts and knowing how to make them benefit from each other.
  • Regulations (what’s “correct” in a general sense) vs. craftsman knowledge (what the craftsman, from experience, instinctively knows to be right in the given situation)

Industrial production can now with modern technology be used to improve architecture, but only if it’s used based on knowledge of the craft and the materials it is replacing/aiding.

More to follow tomorrow!

Critical Written Reflection – What’s this all about?

I have always enjoyed writing, and have for years been writing articles and entries for, among others the magazine NATUR.

As part of my Master’s programme at Aarhus School of Architecture, I’m required to reflect in writing about my process while working, and moreover to have a blog about it.

The idea of writing to reflect, is not new to me. I have written while travelling to better understand the places, and I always take notes along with my drawings.

This systematic idea of blogging while working with creative processes is new to me however, and I look forward to sharing my academic struggles, issues, reflections and possible solutions on this site.

This blog is not about displaying final projects either in my capacity as a graphic designer or as an architecture student – you can check that out at my portfolio.

This is about – my process – written by me – for me – but please feel free to tag along on!

Welcome :)

Best Regards
Jens Buch Johansen