Editorial #1: On the Need for Dialogue
Students created their own publication frameworks as part of the Critical Discourse I course offered in the Spring 2018 semester. As part of the process, ideas on curation, audience, and dialogue were explored. Here some responses to questions. Here is what they have to say:
Why were you interested in partaking in the effort of - making publication frameworks, presenting to an audience beyond the scope of the class, generating wider dialogue?
Hamze Machmouchi: In the past three years at the school, I was not really involved in curricular activities. So in joining on this effort and conversation, it provided an opportunity for me to get to know other students better, not just my surroundings. That was my first motivation - to get to know the work of the BAC. I have a strong belief that there are interesting projects and theories happening in people’s work here, and I was curious to see more.
There is a need for people to know more about the BAC. There is more to the BAC than practice. Of course, practice is an essential component, but the real aspect of the BAC is not exposed enough. And besides the architectural community in Boston, little of the public knows about the BAC. For me, for example, I’ve been in firms and I’ve seen how things are built. I feel comfortable starting my own projects, and I am very adaptable as a person. And the BAC has taught me this. You have to search and create your own zones of learning.
And the publication is an opportunity to promote an image, that our school offers many different explorations as design thinkers and doers. Here, there are multiple ways to engage in learning, through practical application grounded upon deep thinking rooted in theory. And from that literal practice, something sparks that we are able to deliver both sides of the study. This publication is an opportunity to ask the school to re-think about how we learn.
Komila Rakhimova: The importance of a platform where thoughts are collected and stored for reference is undeniably powerful. That is inaccessible before information becomes public. It sparks improvement in skill. I think I became more aware of the quality of my work when I would see or share with my peers. To me publication is a connecting link that creates synergy between separated entities. We started having discussions, conversations leading to a newly uncovered shift in viewing architecture and beyond. We work collectively. So why not have a platform that exposes work and naturally creates a collective culture.
How was the process of creating an iterative publication? Exciting moments that drove the process of making? Challenges that could be further taken as lessons?
Hamze Machmouchi: I think that was the most interesting process.. You’re learning how to get to know a person. Everyone here is so secretive about their project. Each time I sit at someone’s desk and ask “what are you working on?” they respond “oh, it’s nothing” and I think ‘what, no talk to me, what is happening here?’ And I think it’s mostly due to confidence and the fact that you don’t feel comfortable sharing the work. You’re just exposed to someone older than you, and it is intimidating. I also was like this in the beginning. But I changed later on because I felt that I could learn from people who had been here longer. So for me the first thing that I had to learn in asking questions was how to make them comfortable. For me, it went beyond architecture. A conversation that made them comfortable enough for them to respond in a passionate manner. So the one that I chose was, “What work have you done since being at the BAC? What has helped you along the process?” It could be anything that best explained that person’s transition from early stages of learning to more advanced stages. It was great; I got many beautiful approaches to ways of working.
When I was looking through people’s work, I was very excited by a couple of things. So remember my publication framework was about the conscious and unconscious ways of working? I’ve seen so many works that indirectly relate to another. For example, a student shared her photographs that she made in Hong Kong, and she also shared her BAC work that she was most comfortable sharing with me. And when I saw it, I saw a parallel. The way that she was describing her project was very similar to the way that she perceived space and photography. The fact that I was able to correlate this and notice this was a special moment. And I think that was one of the most exciting moments that I had while at school.
Also, new ways to address the public - the fact that there was an augmented reality component to the publication, and the fact that it could go beyond just the physical and become virtual was also a very exciting moment for me in creating my publication. There is a silent conversation between the reader and the author of the work, but the author is not there. So all that is left is the interpretation. For my project, this is where AR technology comes in to present a wide dimension in order to understand the work more closely. I like to investigate all sorts of design, and think that books could go further beyond the physical.
Alexandre Costa: This publication endeavor pushes you outside of your limits as a member of the student body. In the curation process, for instance, one is required to be in touch with students in order to collect materials and/or to simply explain the essence of this effort - as simple as it sounds, some students have difficulty grasping the broad spectrum of possibilities given by the publication, mostly due to the fact that it was never implemented beforehand. Therefore, one of the biggest challenges was to engage the body of students into a cohesive dialogue that spans throughout all disciplines. Only through this synergy, one is capable of fully understanding the inherent importance of vulnerability, intercommunication, and a culture of sharing. Conversation Series, born out of Critical Discourse I course taught by Yoonjee in Spring 2018, provided an informal platform that allows students to discuss contents relevant to not only architecture, but also design as a whole.
An exciting moment that highly influenced the process of making was the opportunity to create deeper and stronger bonds with the community of students and faculty. The class’s weekly reading assignments also instigated thought and investigation that went beyond the boundaries of a print publication. From concepts of the auratic aspects of a work of art, the notion of authorship, the repercussions of mass-production in the Industrial Revolution, to architecture in itself as a medium for propaganda, students had the opportunity to dive into topics and methods that expand beyond the world of design.
How do you imagine this effort to impact the body of students, faculty, and communities encompassing the College or the wider Boston network?
Alexandre Costa: I’ll speak from a personal perspective. During my first six semesters or so at the BAC I hadn’t yet have the opportunity to engage more deeply with my peer classmates or the community as a whole. Classes as Architecture Studio 3 taught me the importance of giving and receiving constructive feedback, also making me realize that I’m learning as much from my classmates as from my instructor when taking a course. The energy, excitement, and cross-pollination that happened in class made me understand not only who I am as a young professional, but also why I love and want to pursue architecture as a career. I’ve always wondered if that opportunity could be given to all students at the BAC. A place, a platform, and mindset where individuals can share, inspire and similarly digest or get inspired by work produced by others. After a couple of years at the BAC, you inevitably feel a strong sense of community, belonging, and acceptance through diversification. Sadly, the vast majority of these members are not provided with a space where they can leave their ‘marks’, and some members are simply buried into graveyards of obliteration, not leaving a legacy or any traces behind.
Hamze Machmouchi: I wanted to start, and of course all of us in this class, wanted to start dialogue. I think this is very important. And this is why I joined in this effort. For us to publish our own work, there is a possibility of the majority of the students to get their work out and seen by a wider community. And this is what the BAC had been lacking thus far. Design is so vast. I want all students to know that Architecture is not just about making buildings. And this publication is one way to see all the different explorations underway beyond the architectural realm, and perhaps even develop something that would take architecture further in the future. There needs to be way to encourage people to try things and to share what they’ve done.
The BAC was founded by people who were first of all not just technicians or practitioners, but they were thinking how to make this profession better. And that is why we had so many great individuals pass through the School like Gropius, Buckminister Fuller, Bjarke Ingles, Snohetta.. All these people came in! And that is because they thought that the School needs to address the dialogue with students. If the students are fed about Architecture in a static manner, they are never going to learn about how to expand their learning in other things. It is important to learn how to make a building. But the design process involves so much more than that. All students here are curious people. They are fascinated by things that each of us are making. You are an idea generator. Ideas come by association. This publication could be the spark.