Monday, October 1, 2007

architecting local knowledge

Flashbacks of Al Sharpton-like vociferations, Erin Brockovitch-style sleuthing, my own EPA dispersion modeling of toxic chemicals and "hazardous" situations....and wonder of how much time and how many meetings were behind the ruckus Corburn describes.

I'm undecided on Street science, but intent on reading this article --that doesn't mention architects-- for its use of the phrase "local knowledge." In FOA's Phylogenesis, there's a reprint of an article by the same name, penned originally by Mark Wigley in 1999. Some excerpts from Wigley's "Local Knowledge":

"Architects are foreigners. They see local conditions from a special kind of outside."
"Architecture is only architecture (as distinct from building) by virtue of exceeding the local."
"Architects are agents of the outside."
"The architect is a full-time tourist."
"The local architect is already a foreign agent."

How do you see yourselves as architects relative to local knowledge? Do we bridge the professional/scientific and the local? What is our purpose/role in this as individuals trained in architecture? I really hope it's more than GIS drawing and information customization/gluttony (i.e. material for the insatiable appetite for entertainment and the next "interesting" bit or display of information). Moed suggests briefly that it might be making decisions (p107), but can we use maps to make real decisions? "Every map is a kind of lie..[and] a certain truth."(Moed 114) If we're using maps to make decisions, are we really relying on the hyperfiction of our button clicking? Will business always be one step ahead, by commercializing information and manipulating our environments to get paid and retain a competitive advantage? Should we be the information prospectors, the street speculators, and the local protectors?

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