About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 6075-6085
Publication year: 2010
ISBN: 978-84-614-2439-9
ISSN: 2340-1095

Conference name: 3rd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 15-17 November, 2010
Location: Madrid, Spain


J. Gordon

Georgia Institute of Technology (UNITED STATES)
One of the challenges of architectural design studio instruction is help the students think creatively, as well as, pragmatically and functionally. This paper will address the creative aspects of thinking and making.

My architectural interests lie at the juncture of poetics - the act of making /revealing - with phenomenology and tectonics. For me “tectonics” represents the intent to build with beauty, meaning and usefulness by joining site, program, forms, ideas, details and materials. This joining is the basis for architectonic poetics. The interrogation of these junctures, these "joinings," constitutes the basis of my studio projects and instruction.

Often studio instruction emphasizes the design of the project at the expense of the idea which for many students is the most intangible part of the design process. In order to introduce “ideas,” I have encouraged the students to engage a given problem by forming the conceptual platform of their projects though words and etymology. By finding and using a word that is both a noun (thing) and a verb (action), a dialogue begins of words, ideas and things. And while the idea may first reside in words or in phenomenal memories, the physical “explanation/exploration” takes the idea into the realm of being thorough the use of sight, touch, sound and smell. I have found that an “explanation” of an idea thorough model making clarifies the students’ thoughts by making the intangible tangible. As outlined in the brief below:

“Making the Invisible, Visible.
An apparatus that documents phenomena.

Often this phenomenal world is taken for granted.

The sun shines, the full moon glows, the breeze is felt upon our face, the visual pleasure of a beautiful view, the compulsive stare of an ugly view, the passage of the day/month/seasons/year, the sound of the leaves rustling, the call of the birds, water rushing, sparkling, reflecting, all seen/felt/ perceived and exceptional in their own way, yet an everyday occurrence…

The apparatus is a device that amplifies - reveals - transforms the phenomenal experience into a phenomenological/ontological experience. In someway a person must interact with the device and “experience” its results. It is an interaction that physical. The device activates the phenomena…”

The apparatus transforms the idea into a reality. Something seemingly unrelated taps into the students’ psyche and relieves them of the “burden” of the concept. As explained in The New York Times article, “How Nonsense Sharpens the Intellect,” Benedict Casey writes, “An experience that defies…expectation…may prime the brain to sense patterns it would otherwise miss…disorientation begets creative thinking.” While disorientation is not necessarily the goal (unless we happen to view “Being John Malkovich” as a quick trip into the uncanny), the “experience that defies explanation” is the goal, as it is the experience that defines architecture. Thus the “new” reality of the idea becomes a framework for the studio project.

The poetics of making comes full circle with the ½” = 1’-0” spatial/detail tectonic model which is a final requirement. The importance of making and doing is central to the studio ideology. It is through these types of exercises the students start to develop “intelligent hands” that aid their cognitive development.
author = {Gordon, J.},
series = {3rd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation},
booktitle = {ICERI2010 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-614-2439-9},
issn = {2340-1095},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Madrid, Spain},
month = {15-17 November, 2010},
year = {2010},
pages = {6075-6085}}
AU - J. Gordon
SN - 978-84-614-2439-9/2340-1095
PY - 2010
Y1 - 15-17 November, 2010
CI - Madrid, Spain
JO - 3rd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
JA - ICERI2010 Proceedings
SP - 6075
EP - 6085
ER -
J. Gordon (2010) THE MAKING OF AN ARCHITECTURAL IDEA, ICERI2010 Proceedings, pp. 6075-6085.