ARCHILIBS STUDIO

Experimental design lab exploring the visual construct in architecture

The visual construct between theory and practice

Theoria + Praxis

In my role as an architect, I often come across the point of view that there is a tension between theory and practice. When discussing their time in academia many architects express that in University they learned about abstract theories which they perceive as far removed from the concrete practice of architecture. The implication often is that the theory side of education isn’t much use…I have always thought theory to be the most important thing to me. To my mind, having a theoretical framework for thinking about architecture is as important as having a strong answer to that question every undergraduate student is faced with: why do you want to be an architect? That question invites you to articulate your moral purpose, a theoretical framework is a place to articulate your intellectual resolve. It shapes the thinking you do, the decisions you make, and as a result of the paths you will take. Of course, this framework can change, I would argue that is essential that at least continues to be refined influenced by reading, thinking, and experience.And there is the thing; your theoretical framework influences your practice, but your experience in the classroom also continues to shape your framework; the two are not separate. This unity between theory and practice is called ‘praxis’.Praxis could be summed up as ‘informed action’, it is the process of ‘taking action’ in practice whilst acting within a theoretical framework of thought. In this concept theory and practice are as one; one must not make a distinction between the importance of thinking differently and the importance of making a concrete change in the world. In praxis, abstract theorising is only useful so long as it informs concrete action, but likewise, action must be informed by deep thinking and justification. This is not a case of ‘doing’ and the ‘reflecting’ on it later, rather one of making sure every action has an informed basis, whilst every valuable thought is put into action.An architect involved in bringing theory to practice could consider their actions when planning, and then again when reflecting or evaluating. An architect immersed in praxis would bring their theoretical thoughts to every decision as they make it.Nevertheless, architecture is a complex business of both practical action and intellectual consideration. So often I think we define these two facets as distinct when we would do well to heed Freire’s call to ‘informed action’.

The visual construct beyond theory and practice

Poiesis

THEORIA

the vocabulary of the visual construct

Theoria is Thinking | to describe knowledge in the form of words

cracking

to form something by forcing or pushing it out. variations: cracking | crack | cracks | cracked

lodge

to become firmly embedded in a place… variations: lodge | lodged | lodging

masterplan

a comprehensive urban plan of action also: master plan

inscribing

to mark in a conspicuous way… variations: inscribing | inscribe | inscribed

expanding

to make larger or more extensive… variations: expanding | expand | expansion | expanded

lifting

to raise to a higher position or level… variations: lifting | lift | lifted | lifts

loop

to enfold or encircle in or with something arranged in a loop... variations: loop | looped | loops | looping

crumple

to press or crush into irregular folds or into a compact mass, to bend out of shape, rumple, or wrinkle… variations: crumple | crumpling | crumpled

extract

to remove or take out… variations: extract | extracting | extraction | extracts

entangled

to cause to become twisted together with or caught in… variations: entangled | tangle | entangle | entangler | entanglement

PRAXIS

the visual construct in practice

Praxis is Doing | the act of engaging, applying, exercising, realizing, or practicing ideas

POIESIS

recreating the visual construct

Poiesis is Making | the activity in which a person brings something into being that did not exist before