Philadelphia, PA

Architecture in Three Inaccurate Descriptions

"The architect is always divorced from his medium."
Stan Allen

'Julius II ordering Bramante, Michelangelo, and Raphael to build the Vatican and Saint Peters.'
Horace Vernet

       It has been said that the architect is divorced from his medium. This is true insomuch that the architect is unsure of what their medium actually is. And this can be understood as a consequence of a fundamental misrecognition on their part. This misrecognition – in the Bourdieusian sense – is the individual architects inability to position themselves relative to the disciplinary project of architecture itself, namely representation. Architecture is a system of representation, this is its medium. Because it is through images that architecture is communicated. The image is the sin qua non of the building. And it follows that architecture is not the building of buildings but the imaging of images, which are then – and only then – translated into built form. Architecture is an idea and not a thing, it is the formalization – and eventual instrumentalization – of a way of thinking. Building and construction are not the domain of architecture but its consequence. And this thing that is the consequence of the idea is not architecture, it is a building and nothing more. In this way architecture can truly become a means and not an end, a purely descriptive conceptually based allographic practice.

     Architecture as a system of representation is composed and communicated through its three inaccurate descriptions– the diagram, rendering and construction document. These descriptions are inaccurate insofar that in and of themselves they are only able to communicate a particular aspect, or limited range of information, of the architecture project that their representation is constituent of. And what is interesting to note within each of these modalities is that they are each keyed to a particular register. Each of these discrete images can in turn, explain, instruct and seduce their appropriate audience– respectively, fellow architects; the building and construction trades; and potential clients. But it is only when viewed relationally – and in accordance with their contingent meaning – that the finely calibrated affects of these types of images, as specific modes of address, can create the argument and apologia for the existence of architecture itself.

     The project of drcdservice.com is to properly address and engage representation on its own terms. Because these modes of operation - the diagram, the rendering and the construction document - are taken as a given by standard architectural praxis they can not be subject to any kind of self- reflexive understanding. And in so far that there is no invested interest in these images, in and of themselves, the architect is disavowed of any critical consideration of what they are actually doing - they can have no recourse towards criticality. By beginning to come to a deeper understanding of these 'representations as architecture' we can begin to explore the latent potentiality and radical possibilities of these images in communicating novel forms of architectural meaning. In this way we can begin to devise strategies through which architecture, as a critical system of representation, can begin to communicate something beyond its own production to a sympathetic audience. And our truest hope is then in finding a rapport between architecture and the world-at-large, in creating a new relevance that will carry it forward...