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Gesture, Trace, Image -- Visual Strategies in Architectural Design and in the Sciences

Dr. Martin Brösamle, Universität Freiburg

Both, scientific and artistic disciplines differ regarding their attitude towards images. Visual approaches play a central role in architectural design for solving complex problems. An experienced architect has a grasp of the crucial properties of a design, without requiring a sketch or plan to contain all these properties explicitly. The empirical sciences appreciate images as pieces of evidence, visualisations, diagrams, etc. When it comes to theories and formal descriptions of knowledge there are, however, certain reservations against images and visual content.

Theoretical conceptions and formal proofs are often considered superior to visualisations or diagrams. Empirical sciences approach complexity by means of abstraction, formalisation, control of experimental conditions. Nevertheless, the creation of valid experimental setups requires an understanding of the domain, far beyond the strict scope of the theories and hypotheses under test. For example, without a good sense of every-day-language it is impossible to come up with good materials for a pycholinguistic experiment.

The presented research investigates sketches and gestures in architectural design.
Graphical transcripts of structured architectural design sessions serve as traces of architectural design activity. Comparable to specimen or preparations in medicine and biology, graphical transcript material is re-organised so as to expose relevant aspects while preserving its original complexity. The
approach allows the architectural lay person to develop a sense of the visual qualities in  architectural design expertise. Concluding remarks will relate the visual techniques applied in the presented researcher with those in architecture and in the visual arts.


Date: 29.11.2013
Time: 15:30
Location: Cartesium, Bremen