Lang | Creating Architectural Theory

Literature review: Lang, Jon. “The Modern Movement, Architectural Theory, and the Behavioral Sciences.” Creating Architectural Theory: The role of the behavioral sciences in environmental design. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold. 1987. 1-29. Book.

This was another reading from Cameron. Architects and designers are compared a lot, apparently, and so my thesis advisor thought it would be helpful to know the the lessons architecture has learned over the years and how it they might be related to design.

What is the main argument of the author?

The author is calling for architecture to learn from the behavioral sciences to help their profession understand what present trends in society are a in order to better predict the results of their design (29). Lnag believes that currently (in 1987) architects haven’t been concerned enough about the implications of their designs and what it might be like to actually use the spaces they create or even considering how the space would be used (or human behavior) as architects worked on them. He is pushing for architecture to be a more theory-focused discipline and describes the profession as believing they have some magical common sense that other people don’t have so that they can work of of intuition rather than a standard practice. He then goes on to propose some ways that architects can start building theory-based practice.

Why is this relevant to my thesis?

If it didn’t pop into your head while reading that already, what I see is a parallel between how a practicing designer works and how Lang describes architects. They are happy believe they have a special gift and doing things on intuition rather than using a theoretical foundations. I think all of us in grad school are pulled from that because we’re forced to learn about various design theories—but the majority of designers aren’t. It describes the exigence to learn and borrow from other fields, like I propose to do with rhetoric studies. However, I also realize this paper is quite old and, from being in grad school, I feel pretty good about there being a comfortable amount of theory on design out there.

However however, I still think there is so much design (and most other fields!) can learn from rhetoric studies. It’s one of the oldest fields out there and so it can’t be helped that so much of it has been studied. Besides that, I can’t help but think that language so-much influences our thoughts and so even just using a metaphor between design & language might really help solidify design literacy.


Thoughts? Discussion? I'd love to hear 'em!

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