Introduction

Preiser, Wolfgang and Davis, Aaron and Salama, Ashraf M and Hardy, Andrea (2014) Introduction. In: Architecture Beyond Criticism. Routledge, pp. 1-20. ISBN 9780415725323

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Abstract

"This book aims to establish a dialogue between perceived and measured quality in architecture in two ways: first by recognizing and illuminating commonalities between the two; second by finding areas within the ontological frameworks of each capable of supporting the differences.The “habitability framework” presented later in this chapter is one such structure to be expounded upon that shows how aesthetic and the performative aspects can in some cases even complement each other.With few exceptions, architectural criticism has been carried out by and large by “expert critics” employing subjective methods of assessment focused primarily on the aesthetic properties of buildings; rightly so, the understanding of buildings as composed formal objects traces back to the beginnings of the profession. In contrast, traditional environ- mental design evaluation uses objective criteria and methods of measuring the performance of buildings, using metrics focused on health, safety, functionality, psychological, social, and cultural satisfaction of the building occupants. The development of criticism in architecture over time admittedly did not keep pace with the technological improvements and innovations radically changing the way buildings were being conceived of and built. In other words, as the facility to understand buildings from the design-side evolved, criticism based in the same scientific inquiry did not also evolve as a clear discipline with its own boundaries. Whether this is because critics identify primarily as journalists and are not typically building professionals is up for discussion, especially since there is an increasing need of the combination of evaluation, journalist, and criticism, as shown in Figure 1.1. Nevertheless, the technological developments in the production of buildings, the rise of “big data,” optimization, focus groups, and the use of commissioning and building performance evaluations (BPE) are increasingly included as part of the project delivery method and life-cycle analysis.These requirements of building performance, and the time lag between their regulation and integration, only exacer- bate the schism between professional practice, discourse, and pedagogy. Architectural practice has the responsibility to engage criticism more directly and intelligently than the mere supply of marketing images.The academy is tasked with providing a creative environment in which creativity can flourish within the bounds of technical reality.The discourse and criticism must "mediate between the two by providing an educational platform of technical innovation vis-à-vis the history of the built environment, but also present the aspirational qualities that make architecture unique to a given time and place, as shown in Figure 1.2. In a market saturated with unreal images and the tin-ringing of sycophantic praise, nothing less is demanded than a built environment rooted in the manifold definitions of quality, or permanence, of accountability in the face of slick rhetoric; an Architecture Beyond Criticism."