EMBRACING AMBIGUITY IN THE TEACHING PRACTICES OF PETER EISENMAN AND COLIN ROWE

Michael Jasper

Abstract


A central mode of thinking for designers generally and architects in particular is that based on part to whole relationships, the idea that fractional relationships necessarily characterise coherent objects and building ensembles and in turn nature as the basis for beauty. The part-whole relationship can be taken as one index of an anthropocentric mode of thinking and practice. This paper investigates alternate modes of architectural thought which challenge the perceived limits of part-whole logics through select case studies from the work of architects Peter Eisenman (1932) and Colin Rowe (1920-1999). While there is evidence of this sensibility in their practice, the paper focuses on Eisenman and Rowe’s teaching at the scale of the city. Through a comparative analysis of their university studio teaching the paper seeks to reveal instances of teaching practices which promote other models of thinking, different problematics, and various composition strategies and devices which embrace ambiguity, complexity and diversity and thus contribute to addressing a key provocation of the Design Ecologies conference.

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