Paradox of Architectural Theory

Paradox of Architectural Theory

If one attempts to scan the genesis of architectural theory and its set of influencing forces, one is tempted to question the methodological challenges that architectural theory has to adapt to. Such questions based on methodology are not appropriately articulated or addressed either in academics or in practice. The methodology is constantly on shaky grounds and is undoubtedly at the crossroads. Historically, architectural theory embarked on the “semiotics, critical theory, postmodernism, critical regionalism, de-constructivism, pragmatism as segmented methodologies to articulate the architectural paradigms during the mid and late nineteen centuries. Each paradigm responding to existing field, attempted to create significant impacts in architectural domain of practice and academics as way forward.

Such attempts brought about diverse theoretical interventions to draw conclusion on imagined, emerging, and everlasting patterns of narrative and knowledge. It also brought about a perception of knowledge and the formulation of segmented knowledge domain that managed to distil the argument into linear time. However, the argument of such position is sharply countered if one attempts to carry knowledge domain of cultural studies which follows a non-linear timeline, or a sociological perspective which has a rigorous timeline but with a slow and steady rate of transformation in its timeline. Similarly, other domain knowledge follows the trajectories that often contradict the architectural producers.  

It is therefore very apt to raise the questions and analyze tendencies of writing of history, its method that create objectivity, critical spirit and knowledge paradigm. Perhaps it is a very valid question, if one is able to comprehend that the act of theorizing is escaping the historiography of ‘isms’ and metaphoric or semiotic frameworks. The current academic milieu must engage with space that argues the following questions on “nature of theory and its constituents” and brings about processes that challenge the epitome of post war architectural theory constructs articulates the contemporary architectural productions and knowledge domains that produced them.

The Questions are as follows:

  • Is it the end of architectural theory?
  • Does the post critical stage take a historical turn towards architecture knowledge as a mere technological domain?
  • What is the knowledge domain that aids theorizing contemporary architecture?

Photo Credit: Manoj Parmar Architects

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