: began as a “talking group:” a series of reactions to the lectures, readings, and questions within GSAPP and beyond . As its grammatical role implies, : supposes a level of complexity between ideas. We found value in materializing these exchanges as a record to be contemplated, reframed, and built upon. The printed document serves as a biopsy of our accumulated material online: bibliographies, readings, images, and videos. The physical form is intended to disrupt conventional ways of reading. It is a stamped record of a specific moment in the discussion—a thing to be re-presented: read, hung, wrapped, seen, and used. It is the pin-up: the moment when we take a step back, assume a stance, and invite another level of judgment and criticism.
This issue is the first installment of a three-part series that aims to explore different engagements within the field of architecture: workshopping, writing and working. These issues should be read as a working document, a way for us to understand what : is and could be. The content consists solely of interviews and conversations in progress, each framed by a question. Hopefully the next three issues will begin to unveil the publication’s own position within architectural discourse, as an experiment to test modes of critical research, to argue for a more discursive relationship between designing and writing, and to create a pedagogical space for architectural doubt.
Our first question: “why workshop?” According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a workshop is “a room or building in which goods are manufactured or repaired” and a “meeting in which a group of people engage in intensive discussion.” As a verb, to workshop is to “present a performance of a dramatic work, using intensive group discussion and improvisation in order to explore aspects of the production before formal staging.”
In order to consider our own role within an institution, in this case a university, we turned to its outermost edge—the international workshop. What does that edge look like? What does GSAPP look like from way out there? How does it function? The workshop exists within a liminal space between academia and practice. It is a dedicated space for work within an ulterior context. It includes and focuses; it puts things on the table and chooses to ignore many others. But in a way, it is the table, a portable conceptual framework through which we make connections.1 Ideally, upon this table we gather evidence drawn from other cities alongside our prior knowledge and perform the required alchemy for a quick stroke of agile efficacy. The workshop is less a product of conclusive certainty than a negotiation of institutionalized uncertainty.
In Istanbul we witness the zeal of government sponsored development clash with activists in Taksim; in Chania we discuss the implications of working in a fantastical paradise, a workshop situated between fiction and reality, between Apollonian and Dionysian forces; in Johannesburg we see a group of architecture students attempting to understand a divided city sociologically and anthropologically; in Los Angeles we try to tease apart the relationship between city and institution; in Rio we juxtapose contradictory perspectives from the same workshop.
This is not an academic journal. There are no answers here. Individual interests are articulated, new questions emerge, threads never resolve, misquotes occur and disagreements persist. Separately they are recorded moments, together they are issues and volumes, in sum they are… well, we’re not quite sure yet.
Welcome to :