GAM 02


Roger Riewe

GAM.02 “Design Science in Architecture”. GAM.02 is here. We’ve made it! One year after GAM, the Graz Architecture Magazine, was first published, we are now able to introduce GAM.02. The preparation time for GAM.01 was almost two years, as numerous aspects and details had to be clarified in order to be able to position this book-like magazine. Due to the experience gained, we were able to shorten this phase considerably this time. Therefore it was even more ambitious to produce an edition as good as GAM.01, and even increase the quality, as feedback and reviews of GAM.01 had been positive without exception. Hence we felt inspired yet under some pressure too.

GAM was conceived as a platform for international architectural discussion on which relevant issues are taken up and discussed. The GAM group of editors, however, also proposed some topics to have evaluated and looked at in an international context. GAM.01 was dedicated to the field “Tourism and Landscape”, currently a hot topic and one to which we were able to add some facets through the publication. Now with the question of “design science in architecture” we bring up an issue that has been a latent aspect in architectural discourse, never placed in a focused discussion. The question is a true challenge as the topic presents itself as most complex and multi-faceted. Therefore we were more than pleased to receive more than 40 contributions from authors responding to our call for papers and wanting to dedicate themselves with us to this reflection.

“Design science is the effective application of the principles of science to the conscious design of our total environment in order to help make the Earth’s finite resources meet the needs of all humanity without disrupting the ecological processes of the planet.” We presented this quote by Buckminster Fuller in our call for papers for GAM.02. We were not interested in this definition’s underlying demand in the sense of a retrospective on Fuller’s work which, in the recent past, had again been given more attention. We wanted rather to focus on the holistic approach that should be transferred to today’s situation. The idealism being expressed in Fuller’s definition can be understood as both inspiration and invitation to critical response.

Now that the initial euphoria has faded regarding defining architecture almost exclusively via the effect of the object, it seems the time has come to introduce new possibilities for assessing architectural quality into the discussion. Categorising architecture has always been difficult, and it is all too understandable that we fled into the object and symbol characteristics the star system is largely based on. Should architecture be assigned to arts or to sciences even? The artist-architect as a manifestation of the star system has become obsolete. Is it now a scientifically based architecture that’s being pushed into the centre of the discourse? And if so, are we pursuing a scientific, humanist or cultural-scientific approach? Or are there any other approaches resulting from architecture itself? Does a manner of approach such as this need to be defined in order to legitimise architecture? To what extent can it be called a scientific approach, or is it a method? A design method in particular, or is it a profound strategic process?

In our call for papers we subdivided the topic of “Design Science in Architecture” into the fields of space, culture, technology and information science. This was an attempt to suggest a structure, whilst being well aware of the fact that, as soon as structures are defined, the boundaries of these categories might become a significant topic. In the contributions submitted, we were able to state that this proposed sub-division into 4 categories was not adhered to in all cases, as expected. In a certain sense these categories can be seen as subsets and intersections in which boundaries can be rather foggy, rendering the topic more interesting on the one hand, but, on the other hand representing an enormous challenge.

By suggesting the specific topic “Design Science in Architecture” we attempted to localise latent elements and define them in the argumentation. The enormous range of the contributions submitted shows that things worked out. We are really very sorry not to be able to publish all substantial texts in this edition. We would like to thank all those who applied themselves to the topic, sent their contributions in and subjected themselves to the peer-reviewing process. After our editor’s council, whose members we would like to thank very much, intensively engaged themselves with the contributions and, after thorough reflection by the editorial team, we decided to publish nine contributions. These contributions illustrate, on the one hand, the range of the issue proposed and, on the other hand, discuss individual elements of design science thoroughly. The assessment of the contributions resulted in four juxtapositions of contrasting views on related topics. The selection corresponds to our ambition to establish GAM as a platform for an exciting discussion.

Susanne Hauser’s essay on “Wissen der Architektur” (The Knowledge of Architecture) deals with the current trend towards rendering architecture scientific, offering an eloquent and differentiated introduction to the issue. The following two contributions are based on very different views of technology. Brian Cody postulating in “Form follows Energy” that the question of energy has also become a central question of design in architecture. In “Closeness to Nature and Alienation from Nature” Christian Holl and Luc Merx use the so-called “Sculpture House” as the basis of a case study of organic architecture, which they refer to as a low-tech variant in the current discourse about finding the form. The next two contributions deal with the concept of sustainability. In “Various Prospects on the Principle of Over Population”, Bert de Muynck discusses this topic with regard to population development as a challenge for architecture. In “Cultural Sustainability and Architecture”, Brooke Wortham directs our view to the missing cultural dimension in the sustainability discourse. The third category of themes deals with complex phenomena or information technology. In “Languaging Complexity – Architektur als Wissensform” (Languaging Complexity – Architecture as a Form of Knowledge), Jörg Rainer Noennig pursues multiple methods of representation and thinking in architecture, whilst Ulrich Koenigs in “Adaptive und selbstorganisierende Systeme in der Architektur” (Adaptive and Self-organising Systems in Architecture) proposes new principles of design deriving from natural sciences.

The last two contributions deal with theoretical problems. In “Die Architekturmaschine oder: Architekturtheorie als angewandte Wissenschaft” (The Architecture Machine: the Theory of Architecture, an Applied Science) Gernot Weckherlin re-engages in the discussion from the 1970s. Christian Gänshirt follows a similar path in “Eine Theorie des Entwerfens? Zu den Schriften von Otl Aicher” (A Theory of Design? On the Written Works of Otl Aicher), by looking at such questions in the light of a prominent man’s life’s work.

The series of photos form, in a certain sense, a counterpoint to the reflections in the text. Here, we selected contributions focusing on the un-planned or even the un-wanted. The observation through the lens brings the existence of an unconstructed environment to the foreground for the beholder, whereas we then realise that the un-planned had been noticed subconsciously before and had become part of everyday reality. Just like in GAM.01, for GAM.02 too, Bas Princen convinced us with his reaction to the issue proposed. We took on his photo series “Tirana”. From the series “Belgrade”, also by Bas Princen, we took the image for the cover. Additionally we were impressed by Hendrik Schomburg’s works about the self creative poetry of Hamburg harbour. This again contrasts excellently with the fully constructed reality of everyday life in the world of Ikea as captured by Hans-Jürgen Burkard.

In contrast to GAM.01 we did not include any architectural projects in this edition, not least of all because we thought that the built or yet to be realised project was too wide in its complexity to be broken down to the very specific aspect of design science. Instead, we included two reviews of very recent book publications in the main part, dealing with the field of design science, Stanford Anderson’s book on Eladio Dieste and Michelle Addington and Daniel Schodek’s “Smart Materials and Technologies for the Architecture and Design Professions”.

Finally, we included projects from the Graz Faculty for Architecture of the past year as well as some success stories from students that contributed to positioning the relevant person and the faculty in both local and international contexts, in the part dedicated to Faculty News. For GAM.03 we chose the topic “Architecture Meets Life”, (see call for papers, p. 236) a topic we maintain to be essential for the current architectural discussion. Here too, we hope to again receive numerous substantial contributions. Through the submissions for GAM.02 and various different comments, we learned that the GAM-community is growing slowly but continuously. The most important objective had been to create a platform for the international architectural discussion. Up until now, the feedback has been extremely positive. Therefore, dear readers, we would very much appreciate your continuing along this path with us.

“Design Science in Architecture” is also the topic under which we run research activities at the Faculty of Architecture at TU Graz. Institutes from various fields and people with different specialisations will introduce their issues in this research focus in order to jointly embrace this complex subject, whilst avoiding the attempt to define just one design science – an attempt probably destined to fail. This shows a trend somewhat analogous to the structure of GAM.02, namely the delocalisation of design science through argument, using deliberate scattering of themes to access the widest possible spectrum.

We would like to thank all those who helped in the creation of GAM.02, covering both organisational and editorial work, proof readers, translators and graphic designers.

We are very pleased that the team of editors of GAM.01, Urs Hirschberg, Günter Koberg, Jörn Köppler and Roger Riewe, can welcome a new member. Ullrich Schwarz, our newly appointed professor of Architectural Theory and History of Construction, became an official member of the GAM team of editors in autumn 2004.

We do hope to be able to incite your curiosity with this edition and to give you inspiration to reflect on the topic or just bring yourself closer to it by reading. Please turn the page.