Open Session.

Session Chair: Hugh Campbell.


Closing a Hermeneutic Circle for Urbanity; Whyte’s Altering Perspectives on New York 1968 – 1970.
Miriam Fitzpatrick, Waterford Institute of Technology.
Changes and progress very rarely are gifts from above; they come out of struggles from below. Rational discussion is useful only when there is a significant base of shared assumptions…..if you want to achieve something, you build the basis for it.
Noam Chomsky
William Hollingsworth Whyte Jr. quest was to rebuild a basis for the everyday livability of cities. This paper will examine how he achieved this against the tumultuous background of New York between 1968 and 1970. His ‘keen eye for both the telling detail and the “big picture” was central to his success[1]. As an urbanist, organizational analyst, New Yorker and urban intellectual, Whyte’s measure of planning at one scale drove him to examine its impact on the vitality of life at many other urban scales.
‘Looking at the city from different perspectives’ was central to Whyte’s urban literacy and to how he could contextualize decisions or policies so that ‘non-specialist readers, citizens, would understand their importance’[2]. It made him one of the most prescient critics of city planning mid century. To document his skill as an urban observer from edge to city center, this research delves into a transition in Whyte’s approach from the big picture to the telling detail. Focusing on 1968 to 1970 captures an important career turn from a role operating as a National Advisor on open space to a life as a viscerally- engaged empirical researcher of street-corners once he sets up his fieldwork group The Street Life Project. Placing Whyte’s work within a hermeneutic circle, this paper examines the relevance of Whyte’s shifting foci as an essential measure of the Urban Intellectual.
1 LaFarge, Ed., The Essential William Whyte. New York: Fordham University Press, 2000: 115
2 Little, Charles E., in Platt, Rutherford, The Humane Metropolis, (Amherst; Uni of Massachusetts Press) p34


Ways of learning: incorporating sustainable design CPD into an architects design process.

Sarah O’ Dwyer, Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University.

Architects are professionally obliged to engage in lifelong learning through CPD to augment their knowledge, skills and values. One such area for learning is sustainable design knowledge. Currently within design practice, there is an ongoing deficiency in the application through design of this sustainability theory by many construction professionals including architects.

This deficiency manifests itself in continued high building energy use, in a performance gap between the design and performance of buildings, in the lack of sustainable buildings which go beyond tepid links to ‘green’ architecture and in the lack of robust sustainability confidence of many architects.

The author suggests that while sustainability knowledge has grown informally, importance should not be placed solely on architects gaining possession of such informal knowledge, but rather improving their learning through more effective CPD that gives them tools in the application and adoption of it within the design process.

While there are formal and informal existing CPD learning opportunities to help to meet these challenges (e.g. sustainable process guidance, environmental assessment guidance and software tools guidance) research conducted by the author revealed limitations to the guidance in its current form; with the consequence that many existing opportunities for CPD for architects in this area are not only incapable of answering the current sustainable design demand but are concurrently un-resilient for future needs.

These findings were verified by research undertaken through a design workshop, which indicated that of the guidance available, design process guidance has the most potential to be successfully developed to more effectively implement sustainable design and it should be the target for CPD in this area. This can be particularly effective as architects can immediately engage with process as an aspect directly within their control, instead of waiting for ‘big picture’ drivers to deliver the necessary CPD in this area.


A Middle Ground between Beaux Arts and Modernism. Tracing Modernities in Chinese Architectural Practice and Education, 1919 – 1949.

Chin- Wei Chang, Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL.

It was not until the 1920s Chinese commenced formal training of home grown architects, for which early generations of overseas – honed professionals served as main educators upon their returning. Exploring their syncretic deeds both at school and in practice, this research is concerned with their radical trajectories in tandem with not merely transplanted modernities from the West, but also how those to-be-modern endeavours were institutionalized in academy and spatialized in landscape.

The idea of multiple modernities from social science has been aptly grafted onto this field of study, which accordingly paved the groundwork for accommodating – unexpected, counterfactual, to-be-modern and ultra – modernisms, as prompted in this paper, in still modernizing China before the Maoist Era by 1949. The body of research is divided into a twain by a phase emulating progressive architectural pedagogies between 1927 and 1933. An overarching scenario per these hypotheses includes, yet not limited to: the national design competition of Nanjing Capital Museum (National Central University), Huang Jorsen and Modern Architectural Research Group (St. John’s University), as well as Liang Sicahng and Planning Man’s Physical Environment conference (Tsinghua University), et cetera.

Seen in this light, a middle ground between Beaux Arts and Modernism was reified through a critical ‘spectrum’: the nationalist building agenda with formal modalities, on the one hand, for pursuing a modern statehood: a stripped-down functional aesthetic in the International Style fashion, on the other, looking for Chino-newness preached since the May Fourth Movement in 1919. From humble vernacular origins to a vocation represented in dedicated university departments or associated partnerships, Janus-faced aspects hath China’s own crop of architects desperately keen to arrive at an architectural language befitting their national character and manifesting their newly-found designer authorship, rather than formulaic work of anonymous craftsman builders.

Taken together, this paper is set to decipher architectural modernities in China’s education on a global scale, nevertheless their design practice should also be scrutinized in order to plot a more well-rounded discourse – Chinese architecture was a counterparty of Bauhaus modernist hegemony whilst being a retreat from Beaux Arts ivory tower – via (re)articulating geographically divided and methodologically diverse Chinese calls on the verge of being modern.



Here and Elsewhere- Architecture on Display.

John McLaughlin, Architect + Senior Lecturer in Architectural Design CCAE+UCC.

The idea of exhibiting architecture is inherently paradoxical since most exhibitions consist of representations – drawings and models – of buildings located elsewhere, either the site of the building or the architect’s imagination. Display itself takes place within the “white cubes” criticised by Brian O’Doherty as being rarefied spaces that innately posit a disconnection between the works on display inside and the social and political realities outside. These spaces, being “neither here nor elsewhere” meet the attributes of non-places described by the anthropologist Marc Augé.

This paper will explore the design and curation of a series of national and international exhibitions representing Ireland at the Venice Architecture Biennales in 2012 and 2014; the Irish Year of Design in 2015; and the centennial of the Easter Rising in 2016. Situated at the intersection of architecture and representation, these projects resolve the weakened status of the exhibit as being located between display and displacement, by making the architecture in the exhibition the architecture of the exhibition.

Spatial operations deploy methods of physical balancing, framing, blurring and floating to engage directly through experiences that are kinetic, visual and participatory. The intellectual framework (agencement) of the research is made manifest in the frame (cadre) of the exhibition where architecture is embodied directly in the artefact rather than being represented by it. The effect has been described as being like walking into a three dimensional book.