Instead they require cross-disciplinary problem solvers from allied disciplines – architects, interior designers, and landscape architects – to work together to craft a new way of thinking and working, an integrated conception of environmental design that regards interiors, buildings, and landscapes as linked interactive systems.Interdisciplinary collaboration is easier to achieve in theory than in practice.Mark Jarzombek Professor of the History and Theory of Architecture, MIT From Noah's Ark to Diller Scofidio's “Blur” Building, a distinguished art historian maps new ways to think about architecture's origin and development.Trained as an art historian but viewing architecture from the perspective of a “displaced philosopher,” Hubert Damisch in these essays offers a meticulous parsing of language and structure to “think architecture in a different key,” as Anthony Vidler puts it in his introduction.Modernism, for all of its arrogance and heroic delusions, at least rooted itself in utopian social ideals.The challenges posed by contemporary global culture are far too complex, wide-ranging and interconnected to be solved by a single author representing one design field alone.In the same way that individuals work with therapists to outgrow engrained patterns of behavior received from the past, the design professions are in need of counselors who can help them see and ultimately transcend the inherited cultural baggage that inhibits cross-disciplinary alliances. Rather than recount the usual story of lone male geniuses who craft signature masterworks, this book departs from convention and shifts its emphasis from practitioners to practices, looking at how the designed environment is shaped by networks of individuals whose ways of working are dictated and shaped by the structure of professional practice.While I am not a design historian, as an architect and a professor I have grappled with some of these questions, teaching history seminars and writing articles like this one that look at the way history can shed light on issues confronting contemporary practice.
Hubert Damisch is Emeritus Professor of the History and Theory of Art at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris.
Why did my education leave me unequipped to expand my materials palette to include living materials – trees and vegetation – as space-defining elements?
Why was I trained to conceive of the building envelope as the limit where architecture ends rather than as a porous membrane that facilitates the transition between interiors and landscape, both precincts understood as intercommunicating designed spaces that foster social interaction?
Anthony Vidler is Dean and Professor of the Irwin S.
Chanin School of Architecture at The Cooper Union, New York.