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The Architecture Chronicle: diary of an architectural practice

Kattein, J.; (2009) The Architecture Chronicle: diary of an architectural practice. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London).

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Most books on architecture start when a building is completed, carefully editing out any evidence of the design and production process. As a result, architecture is often seen as a product rather than a process. The Architecture Chronicle is about architecture as a practice. It has two parts. The book Blur: the Making of Nothing, by Diller and Scofidio, has informed the format of part one. Blur book reports on the design and construction process of Blur building from initial design ideas to the completion of the building. Part one is a diary reporting on the realisation of five stage sets and one urban intervention realised over a period of four years, starting on 16 December 2003. The diary is intercepted by references that are, where appropriate, carefully integrated in the overall design. The book Delirious New York: A retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan, by Rem Koolhaas, tells the story of the building of New York with the author taking on the role of a ‘ghost writer’1, putting into perspective the ‘mountains of evidence’2 to discover patterns, methodologies and strategies. Part two is such a ‘retroactive manifesto’3, mining the projects in the diary for strategies that re-appear and fortify throughout The Architecture Chronicle. In his book Words and Buildings: A Vocabulary of Modern Architecture, Adrian Forty observes that the pre-Renaissance architect worked on the building site amongst other tradesmen in an environment of dispersed authorship. It was his ability to draw and to write, acquired during the Italian Renaissance, that allowed the architect to remove himself from the site of construction and to upgrade his status from anonymous craftsman amongst others to artistic creator. New procurement methods have changed the role of the architect in contemporary construction projects. To minimise liability, and as a result of the increased specialisation of building professionals, contemporary buildings are designed by a design team. This threatens the status of the architect as artistic creator. Today, the architect operates once again in an environment of dispersed authorship as a member of the design team working alongside other design professionals. Drawings are more often produced by visualisers, engineers and sub-contractors than by architects while text is more often written by surveyors or specifiers. To maintain his status as artisitc creator, the architect in The Architecture Chronicle takes on three distinct characters. The architect-inventor challenges conventions and questions the social status quo. The architect-activist transgresses the boundary of the profession and enters the construction process. The architect-arbitrator engages the audience to realise the ambitious project. The Architecture Chronicle concludes that the contemporary architect still draws and writes, but that it is often the architect’s ability to engage and direct that asserts his or her status. To assert his or her status in the design team, the architect’s ability to talk and to act is more important than his or her ability to draw and write.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: The Architecture Chronicle: diary of an architectural practice
Language: English
Additional information: Authorisation for digitisation not received
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > The Bartlett School of Architecture
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/18941
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