Abstract proposed for “research spaces”, 2004-2005
“This paper debates the contemporary construction of what we have named in a recent book 'critical project'. That is to say, it proposes to reflect on the nature and the conditions of performance of design-based researches, developed in an oscillating space between theory and building.
The paper begins by identifying a certain hierarchy between construction, design, and theory that could have been working as a motor on the instrumentalization of the discipline ('simulacrum'). It concludes by proposing the possibility of a Critical Project that mediates theory and construction, and contemplates on the part that critical theory might assume in the design practice of post-modern architecture – a motor that permanently doubts prescriptions, that problematizes the projectual potential, and that secures the discipline’s auto-critical dynamic.
In order to achieve that, an overview of the 20th Century will be initially provided, highlighting the necessary shift from a Theory of 'prescription' to building practice to a dynamic self-criticism of the Architectural Institution itself. (A Narrative which could begin with the Modern complexities, in which Theory operated towards legitimizing a generic and totalitarian design and a constructive practice, which later lead to the post-modern disbelief and mistrust that, since the culture of criticism of the 60s, has questioned the purpose of the architectural practice by focusing on the conceptualization of the 'ways of inhabiting' that it inscribed.)
One will argue, that despite contemporary shapes, the Critical Project, autonomous or actualized through construction, must question the world of construction in which it moves, the physical expression of structures of power, the effects of negligent Modern and initial Post-Modern construction, the socio-economic results already described in the authority of the commission-client.
Today, it seems urgent to design those projects as disciplinary critical research-constructions – as ‘other’ speculations that resist to any type of totalization that inscribes marginalized perspectives, potentiating the cultural intervention capacity of the discipline.”