Towards a Critical Phenomenology – The Frascari Symposium / February 8 Friday in The Pit

What has Phenomenology to offer architects today?

It is quite possible that the use and abuse of language, philosophy and architecture has not only led to a number of theory-speak volumes and dictionaries but a pretence that has clouded the very discipline and practice of architecture itself. Can we put that another way? Consistent attempts to use language to claim more than architecture can achieve, have led to innumerable triumphs, innumerable disasters. From the tragically hip to the tragically uncool, phenomenology in architecture has struggled to maintain the critical significance it attained in architecture from the 1960s to the 1980s. Did it indeed collide with Post-Modernism as recent new scholarship maintains? Does this indicate a historical takeover for a (critical) minority of theoreticians, academics and practitioners, or is this critical hindsight useful for scholars but – as usual – not practitioners? Do practitioners still find the concept of the phenomenological ‘spooky’ but useful, if the language and codes can be used to support intuition and the invisible? Yet we still must ask this question: how much is the poetic act – the invisible and unknown, that moment just a little beyond our reach and comprehension – still considered essential to a resistant process in architecture?

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