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Theorising the Project

A Thematic Approach to Architectural Design

Author(s): Michael Tawa

Book Description

Theorising the Project aims to explore a thematic approach to architectural design. It conceptualises the design process in a general sense through seven key phases: developing a thematic framework and a line of inquiry to situate the project; investigating the project brief and mapping the project site to unravel potential themes and questions; situating technology as a formative condition for design; analysing precedents from the arts, literature and architecture to elaborate implications for design and considering representation as equally constitutive of the design undertaking. Key themes which are unpacked using extensive etymologies and metaphorical associations include theory, mapping, the makeshift, potentiality and agency. The concepts of assemblage and emergence are developed to contextualise the design process and architectural settings as enabling infrastructures for thinking and practice. The book contends that design is a matter of setting up strategic and productive thematic assemblages that are not directed to the translation or formal expression of meaning, but to the framing of strategic and enabling conditions for emergent sense realised within the existential and material conditions of architecture. Succinct analyses of precedents across several disciplines are used to foreground tectonic and compositional characteristics with adaptational capacity for space, time, materiality and architectural narrative. The thematic framework of the book engages theoretical material by Giorgio Agamben, Gilles Deleuze, Martin Heidegger, Francois Jullien, Manuel De Landa and Jean-Luc Nancy. Illustrated with drawings and photographs by the author, the book will be of interest to practitioners and students of art, design and the built environment who wish to expand the foundational premises for design, widen the creative scope of their practice and exploit the thematic and metaphorical capacities of their project work.


ISBN-13: 978-1-4438-3296-0
ISBN-10: 1-4438-3296-0
Date of Publication: 01/10/2011
Pages / Size: 295 / A5
Price: £39.99


Michael Tawa is an architect and Professor of Architecture at the University of Sydney, Australia. Between 2006 and 2009 he was Professor of Architectural Design at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. He has practiced and taught architecture in Alice Springs, Adelaide and Sydney. His previous book, published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing was Agencies of the Frame: Tectonic Strategies in Cinema and Architecture (2010). Current projects include the web-based Design Lexicon and research on the concepts of emergence and translation in architectural design.