Past Calls

 

Vol. 3 Call for Papers: Transdisciplinarity + Architectural Practice
(published November 2016).

 

 

New Order

 

In an age of globalised collaboration, architecture, as an isolated discipline, seems no longer equipped to address the demands of contemporary society. One solution offered in this crisis of relevance is transdisciplinarity; the hybridisation of architecture with adjacent disciplines. As such, this concept has risen to become the dominant mode of contemporary architectural practice. Transdisciplinarity is the New Order.

This moment of adjacencies resembles art historian Rosalind Krauss’ critique of synthesised artistic practice. Her 1979 essay, “Sculpture in the Expanded Field,” sought to identify the core qualities of sculpture, architecture and land art at the point at which the three distinct disciplines were being hybridised.[1] In defining the limits of each discipline, the concept of an expanded field provided a space to establish what each might become if strategically combined with adjacent fields of practice.

Architecture theorist Anthony Vidler translated Krauss’ thinking to the architectural context in 2004. His adaptation, “Architecture’s expanded field,” similarly assessed the limits of disciplinary borders against categories as far-reaching as biology, politics and technology.[2] For Vidler, the expanded field was concerned with what occurs at the edge of conventional architecture as a means of innovation.

But this porous disciplinary boundary, celebrated as recently as 2012 by curator Rory Hyde’s Future Practice: Conversations from the Edge of Architecture, has been embraced within a contemporary conception of architecture. As Hyde discusses, the profession can now be defined through its relationship with external disciplines: geospatial, political, medical, anthropological, biological and philosophical.[3]

Projects once considered to be on the “fringe” of architectural practice are now routine. The expanded field is now embraced and authenticated by educational institutions, symposiums, publications, and, crucially, public expectation. Architects are crowd-funding projects to circumvent the traditional client-architect business model. Architects now harness the potential of biological and chemical technologies to fundamentally alter the materials which constrain the built environment. Architects curate design festivals and civic interventions to facilitate the exchange of experience through event.

Transdisciplinary practice has transcended conventional notions of architecture, displacing the production of built form as the prevailing mode of practice. To conceive of architecture simply as the act of designing and constructing buildings is too limiting. But what remains of the core tenets of architectural practice? Is this redefinition of architecture an advance or a retreat?

Inflection Vol. 3 will explore the limits and the implications of this transdisciplinary age through a critical investigation of this current mode of practice. In tracing the trajectory of this New Order, this issue seeks to discover the matter that binds architecture together in this fragmented, yet hyperconnected epoch.

 

 


 

[1] Rosalind Krauss, “Sculpture in the Expanded Field,” October, Vol. 8 (1979): 31-44.

[2] Anthony Vidler, “Architecture’s expanded field: finding inspiration in jellyfish and geopolitics, architects today are working within radically new frames of reference,” Artforum International, Vol. 42 No. 8 (2004):  142 – 148.

[3] Rory Hyde, Future Practice: Conversations from the Edge of Architecture (Routledge: New York, 2012).