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Pehr Mikael Sällström: Intra-Representational Practice

Architecture Research Seminar Fall 2022

Time: Fri 2022-10-21 09.00 - 11.30


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Language: English

Participating: Pehr Mikael Sällström

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Abstract: The thesis addresses the issue of coordination of interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary knowledge production (ITD) in sustainable urban design and the significance of architectural modeling as an enabler of identification of relations between discourse and matter in a project situation.

Previous studies of ITD in urban design often assume that project specific knowledge can be achieved by establishing a shared frame of reference through iterative moves (Bina et al 2021, Erixon-Aalto 2017). But only a few tentative studies have been dedicated to studies of different modes of framing and the specific significance of the material framing (Yaneva 2017, Dogan & Nersessian 2010). 

The thesis adopts a new materialist system of enquiry to discuss the ontological biases embodied in five practice theory discourses on architectural modeling and how they enable or disable a collaborative approach: (1) a logical inferencing from first principles; (2) a representation of the imaginary; (3) a materialization of discourse; (4) a performative speech act and; (5) an intermediation of practices. The investigations of the theories are situated in the case of planning for a medium sized residential district that includes a typical spectrum of objectives for sustainable development. The theoretical proposition that a relational modeling can be understood as an intra-representational practice is tested in a contemporary housing innovation project with participatory ethno-methodological observation.

The test demonstrates that on conditions of charity and felicity, the bodily framing enacted by the imaginary architectural model can be accepted as a temporary shared frame of understanding through an act of intermodal metaphorizing without a complete harmonization of ontologies. But the test also indicates that the material embodiment of the project discourse will only be accepted as long as the claim of the model to intermediate the intra-action between the discourse and matter in the project situation is persuasive. This implies that the representation by the model must be grounded on a sufficient understanding of the different concerns of the project participants.