is there an element of bullshit?


Hi, I will be studying architecture this september at uni. I come from a computer software related background. I was just wondering how much 'bullshit' (sorry for the term, cant think of an alternative word) there is in the subject of architecture?I mean like out of 10, how much bullshit ratings would you give it.

I'v had trouble understand contemparary art.

... Like Marcel Duchamps 'Fountain', I mean yeah OK i can see the point of turning a urinal on too it side to say that we should look at art at a different prespective, but if thats what you get out of a art degree, Were are the schmetics for knowledge?

The result of the fountain doesn't mean nothing apart from that message. And I could have constructed another way of making that same message.

And then you get critics critising contemporary art and the message of the piece. What is there to critisize I dont understand. Its almost pretentios, or is it supposed to be for the same of democratics.

The reason I get contemparory art into this is becuase it worries me to how teachers will actually mark your work. And becuase critisism can be so abrupt, what if the teacher dont like you then he or she are just gonna make up any old crap to put you down. I dont see any substance to the criteria of it all.

I could be talking shit, but Iv been researching and I cant find any sort of solid substance towards all this. I mean Id rather watch graffiti on the streets which have more profound meanings then the stuff i see in galleries.

please help becuase i obviously seem in the dark with all of this.

dont get me wrong i like architecture in the sense of the designs and improvements to mankind, but i just dont understand the sense of critisism and the above notion iv been going on about.

Sep 21, 06 9:17 am

or shall i just shut the fuck up...

Sep 21, 06 9:23 am

only if you want to.

i quite like duchamp. anyone who can say fuck you very much and get paid for it is doing something very inspiring. anarchy, but not the hurting kind, is always something to aspire to. who cares what it means.

architecture isn't art. or not only so. in my uni the criticisms were not often about taste, instead about clarity of ideas and whether a student was doing what s/he said and believed s/he was doing. discussion started from there.

what starts this question, you have people asking you why you are dressed like a chicken when it is clearly turtle day, crazy shit like that? or just feelin misunderstood?

Sep 21, 06 9:50 am

Bullshit is everywhere. I highly recommend this book on the subject:

On Bullshit
Harry G. Frankfurt

What brought you, as a professional philosopher, to write about bullshit? (1:41)

Answers to this question and more here...

Sep 21, 06 9:53 am
Gabe Bergeron

I've heard that duchamp actually inteded the urinal to shake the art world out if its complacency - that he showed it as a reaction to where things were headed with loss of hand skill in art... but that it was ironically embraced.

Who knows - this urinal is soaked in legend!

In any case, art vs. architecture: they're related, but are also quite different. Both explore ideas, but architecture has this client relationship that takes it into another realhm. I had a mentor who suggested architecture lags behind art about 50 years, in terms of the ideas that are being expressed. Perhaps this has to do with how architecture is more of a codification of already accepted cultural ideas, whereas art brings up the initial challenges to cultural ideas.

Regarding art, I'm trying to remember the originator of this idea... but it has increasingly moved away from focus on hand skill and representation to focus on concept/idea. Art sits in the intellectual arena at the moment and has for quite some time now. What's next? Appeal to the spirit? the virtual? the ephemeral? or a hand skill renaissance?

Sep 21, 06 10:07 am

Liek AP said, there's bullshit everywhere. There is quite a lot of it in architecture education, and that's not bad per say.

Sep 21, 06 10:34 am

not all shit stinks! if you're afraid of getting your hands dirty, then stick with computer programming. If you want to expand your intellect and make a greater contribution to our planet, then go to architecture school and bring a clothes pin for your nose...

Sep 21, 06 10:41 am

right...but jump's point about his experience at school is in line with my own:

in my uni the criticisms were not often about taste, instead about clarity of ideas and whether a student was doing what s/he said and believed s/he was doing.

some things may seem subjective or perhaps arbitrary, but more often they are likely well-intentioned and thoughtful remarks by a critic, and from their unique point of view. One important thing to distinguish is that each critic brings their own background to a critique, and will discuss your project, quite often, on their own terms...this can be useful if the student is primarily interested in learning rather than defending their design...

Sep 21, 06 10:41 am
vado retro

fountain is from 1917. so hardly contemporary. duchamp however is the most important artist of the last century. also, through research it is being discovered that duchamp's readymades may in fact not have been mass produced items, since exact duplicates ie snow shovels whatever have not been found.if you think duchamp's comments on authorship in the mechanical age are bullshit then selavy!

Sep 21, 06 10:42 am
liberty bell

Here's to a second re-posting of jump's comment:

in my uni the criticisms were not often about taste, instead about clarity of ideas and whether a student was doing what s/he said and believed s/he was doing

My husband teaches art and I teach architecture (used to, anyway) and we agreed on this point: in a review the prof wants to see a process at work, starting from an idea the student wants to pursue and then honestly explored through form.

And AP is right on: the reviewers are filtering through their own beliefs, so while I might consider thma/built poetry aspect of a project, the guy next to me would be looking at the socio-economic implications of the program. Neither of us is right or wrong, we just approach it differently.

Also, I'm going to raise a fashion analogy: fashion magazines are full of crazy-looking photos of crazy-looking outfits, or photos that are so stylized to create a mood that you can't even actually *see* the clothing on the model's back. But those things are stylized images intended to spark creative notions about the culture of fashion. In addition to dreaming of those images, fashion students also have to learn how to make a pattern and hem a dress. Both are valuable when they work together to educate someone in ideas they might not otherwise have developed.

Selavy, vado.....brilliant.

Sep 21, 06 10:53 am
liberty bell

Sorry, that's supposed to be "the material/built poetry aspect"

Sep 21, 06 10:54 am

there is always bullshit. you won't necessarily be marked on the end idea, alot of the time it is in the delivery. (i.e. clarity of idea and communication) but then sometimes the work speaks for itself.

on the other hand, process (including the left field stuff that actually lets you discover for yourself something new) is about getting to those ideas... getting there by taking a path you haven't taken before. because you will also be marked on innovation, which cannot be found by pre-emptively assuming you know everything... my 2 cents.

Sep 21, 06 11:20 am

you imagine something. most of the time is a mixture of consideration, analysis, gut feelings and intuition. now you have to go about convincing a studio tutor/building comitee/client that that's the best solution. that's when bullshit comes into play. if you can find it, read the first few pages of the yokohama project book, foreign office architects, edited by actar.

some people are even better, they convice THEMSELVES with bullshit beforehand, easing the process of convicing others.

as many people pointed out, criticism is mainly about the process. they will teach u to develop your own process for designing something, so that you will be, hopefully, able to deploy that process in the complexity of the real world, which is much more complicated than the simulated version of education.

Sep 21, 06 11:36 am

I think a class in art history might help you understand why certain things that seem to be bullshit are actually relevant to the pregression of culture.

Sep 21, 06 12:08 pm

bullshit is actually relevant to the progression of culture.

Sep 21, 06 12:12 pm

if you had trouble with duchamp's 'fountain', you'll love this..

Sep 22, 06 12:29 am

bullshit is a necessary social lubricant

Sep 22, 06 12:40 am
I love archinect

no its not bullshit, you think we pay people like damian hirst millions for works of art cos they are bullshit?

Sep 22, 06 8:21 am


Sep 22, 06 9:36 am
santa monica

Indy, it's important to understand that, as an architecture student, you set the rules of the game. In other words, you will propose an idea in response to a design problem and you will then be critiqued on how well your design conveys your idea. The strongest projects always seem to be the most concise ones. So you're right to be wary of the bullshit.

Sep 22, 06 1:27 pm

Keep writing, you'll move me with your passion

Sep 23, 06 9:01 am

i dont know if BS is a necessery part of archtecture but i think it is of an architect. you could find many ways of talking about a door... but once its built, it is a door and you cant bs about it. talking/drawing/models are all we have to get from one to the other. so in a way it is needed... the non BS part that kind of seperates arch from art i think is that architects popose a relationship bewteen things and artists solidify a relationship between

Sep 24, 06 3:17 am

QUESTION: Two architecture students, called 'A' and 'B' critted. Who do you think had a better crit?

A: had a mediocre presentation board/model, but talked his/her way out of it.

B: had an awesome presentation board/model, but he/she didn't sleep for two weeks and couldn't articulate his/her ideas.

Sep 24, 06 4:02 am

...congradulate A for pulling a warholl and encouredge the second one. but i think the fist one might have gained more from the crit if he engaged in a discussion about his project. i think a crit should be a give and take process, if you cant give much to the board then they cant really give much back, and it might be that student b was not able to understand much of the critisism either if they were tiered. now not to say that student B didnt get more out of the studio in generall.

Sep 24, 06 5:11 am

I would reccommend that you check out what Christopher Alexander has to say about the matter. He was from a mathematical background and his book in 1984, A Pattern Language, is famous for contributing to the software field as well as to architecture. His new book, The Nature of Order, has a lot to say about how to make a beautiful building. His comments about what he saw in the field of architecture upon receiving his Doctorate from Oxford, I think, speak to what you are talking about.
About critiques, he mentions that students who had his book on their desks were getting marked down because of it. His ideas were too threatening to the ones prevailing in the university at the time. I think he actually had to sue UC Berkeley for his right to free speech.

And for some strong critique of BS in the "Art World," check out "The End of Art" by Donald Kuspit. It includes a powerful critique of Duchamp's attitudes toward art and the feminine.

Sep 24, 06 5:39 am

Gee --- A pattern language 1984 ; can't you see it it have nothing to do with "Architecture" as discussed here , it deal with programming and none of it have had any impac on architecture except Dull-Talk.
Gee A pattern language is about advanced programming ; look again 1984 what issues from 1984 are relevant , no a pattern language are without architecture it is words about the object oriented programming that was develobed just then --- architects just misunderstood it is about SOFTWARE-ARCHITECTURE as how it was listed.

Sep 24, 06 5:49 am

A Pattern language came in 1984 with a dull description of the 2D wonders expected , architects bound in the 50-70 was happy that somone could write such dull words and use the word Architecture --- but all of it was expertations to recursive functions that never fullfilled their promises.

None of this --- expect diagrams for Software develobment wrongly emagined as architectural theories, Na architecture are alive and not chained in 1984 theories somthing happened after that, and you Hunns shuld realise that, othervise you soon are left with useless tin-tophats and useless highrises with a lifespan of 20 years, and No quality, no visions and in particular no innovation.
Not even Bullshit can youi encounter.

Sep 24, 06 5:57 am

"architecture are alive "

I like that thought

Sep 24, 06 6:45 am

Tell me nevermore --- do you realy think this is what make architecture alive ;

Do you expect the building under the roof to be somthing special -- if not, then what is this spetacular emty tin-hat look for ; did it profit architecture, point to new innovative methods to be copied so we all can have new ,cheap and safe houses.

No it did not --- no new visions way's to use the computer, not realy.
Except for emty constructions and architecture as a road-show , no real new architecture just tortured forms just for the spetacular looks of it -- now do you call that somthing with a responsibility do you call that the solution for those millions who deserve a new house ,new jobs, where did architecture profit from this ?

Sep 24, 06 8:54 am

good to have you back per! keep on trucking!

Sep 24, 06 9:49 am

i see a lawsuit for leaking roofs, mold infestation, and poor energy performance... also how does the tin ribbons make the place better to live in????

So why is that architecture? hubris doesn't make good cities or buildings. derrivative forms don't make good buildings, or alive buildings either.

[sih] what a waste of talent...

Sep 24, 06 2:43 pm

"i see a lawsuit for leaking roofs, mold infestation, and poor energy performance... also how does the tin ribbons make the place better to live in????"

Listen --- how do _any_ house structure look before it is paneled ?

There ribbons are the strength and size the designer decide, they allow you to create a super strong foundation, with foundations for floors and walls as by magic, any form any how you want , it offer full control and anything you draw can be build ---- becaurse you uses the computer in an exiting new way a way that offer limitless optunities , and becaurse it produce a house that can be refitted at any time, easy becaurse there are a smart new system doing the very core , it offer solutions to all the trivial problems and it build you a wonder , for the same expenses as a cotteage ---- please look at some of the examples and use your emagination for thicker "ribbons" then you soon see that this is not just different, it is acturly a brand new idea, one that acturly make a lot of realistic promises ; unless you just want to complain. But then please complain about the high prices and lack of creativity in many of today's bad build houses, don't take it out on a good new idea that could mean a revolution in architecture.

"So why is that architecture? hubris doesn't make good cities or buildings. derrivative forms don't make good buildings, or alive buildings either."

This don't "look" like anything else , no real new thing do --- but becaurse it is different ,do that mean it is a tread against the settled and century old technikes --- YES. Don't blame somthing new that it look different and that you don't understand it. Do not blame a bright new structural ider that it look different , think about it this is acturly just what you do.

"[sih] what a waste of talent..."

Becaurse it is new, becaurse it is different ? Sorry but that's just how new things are, they are develobed from the old sadly the response from the old towerds new bright idears are hate.

Sep 25, 06 3:48 am

waaa? what is holding what up? what is new? i am so lost

Sep 25, 06 4:00 am

and with that i think the original question has been answered

Sep 25, 06 4:33 am

Klayman where did you see a system so flexible , where every frame support the next , where did you see building structures as those 3D-H ones , where did you learn about a building system that go strait from 3D drawing to manufactoring each and every building part ?

Isn't it new to be able to draw 3D whatever shape and form, isn't it a bit more challancing than emty titanium hats , made only to impress, not made to suggest a new way to build, and before you turn to ignorance against everything that don't "look" as things looked for centuries, tell me, what is wrong with fresh new idears, what is wrong with visionary new idears , is it becaurse you for any price even starting hate campains, want to presave and "protect" the way houses been build for centuries --- isn't there in your mind room for real visionary idears idears that work , and is not dull academic talk ?

What shuld be wrong with that structure ?

Sep 25, 06 4:44 am

And please Klayman ---- don't nip-nack on the details "you can't see" ,this is so simple and is so different that it shuld have a better chance, than just being victim for old usenet fanatics that don't even understand the structural secrets of a dogs-house.
Listen --- you accept without any complain, these silli Titanium emty Tophats, and ask no question about what this profit the ones who are looking for new housing and innovation, you accept the academics dull-talk talk that been going on for halve a century, without offering cheap new safe houses. Then why continue this sad campain against a guy who freely share a brand new idea, and even display drawings of it,

----------- Just becaurse you have your favourite , just becaurse this is new and innovative and different than what you know, that don't mean it don't work just becaurse it is different ; acturly we need new methods even you have your favorite , acturly there are a lot of people who could profit from a revolution in architecture so houses can be build stronger and cheaper, I knoow many simply hate new idears as they are allready "the best", and anyone who "challance" the proud old timber houses must have the Gutts ; well I have and I have more than those who just see this as an oppotunity , to make a fool out of anyone who present a bright new idea.

Sep 25, 06 4:54 am

a Kleyman if there are nothing more wrong with this structure, nothing more than it easily could be changed into somthing even better ;

Then stop complaining just becaurse there are a crowd of old sad bicycle-mechanics who say "this is not how you build a house" , open your mind and realise how many could profit from a new architecture, new jobs, new building technikes and develobing new sheet materials fit for this concept --- and instead of complaining, go look at some of these 3D-H structures and get inspired ; don't use this just to hit some skilled and positive minded guy just becaurse you think it is more fun to crowd with guy's who is just looking for mud throwing and doing harm.

Sep 25, 06 4:59 am

"Klayman where did you see a system so flexible , where every frame support the next" ehem... gaudi: no computer, much more inovative modell to building technique, le corb: open frame house (cant get more flexibe then that), if we get a bit more contemporary during the 70s there were a lot of inovative designs based on minimal surfaces, using only pantyhose withc is considerably less expensive then rhino. now if you want to talk about time and ease of manufacturing yes computers are an integal part of architecture now and as sofwares develope and grow yes it will be easy to make things that are... new. at what expense though. go for it buid your perfectly balance/fabricated/cost efective/fresh/, say civic center or for the sake of argument why not let it be a highway. you still need a greater understanding of how architecture works.

... well im actually not an architect yet so i dont really know much... here are some observations though. the ribon is used as a roof structure, i dont know if it goes into the house. so no coments there. although as form goes it at some places it is in the shape of an S... so i dont know how stuctural it is without suporting members... its really invovative? i mean really? how does it impove the lives of people inside it? the guggenheim works because it is a museum, and is ment to be a... hat. it talks more about urban fabric and art more so then stucture. architecture isnt all about structure and being able to make what you want.... look doesent count for much in most cases unless a building is made to be looked upon as opposed to.. well lived in.

but for the sake of bringin this thread back to the BS factor in schools and in the profeshion of architecture(i dont know how we got into hats) i think it is important to be able to BS, even to yourself, it might not be good in terms of making things on the go but as far as development of ideas i think it is as important as talking to your pears or having a crit.

upside down, i totary agree with you!!

Sep 25, 06 5:53 am

"its really invovative? i mean really? how does it impove the lives of people inside it? "

Eh --- this just build a house in a new smart way -- a way not realised before, but it is very difficult to progress new way's as what new technikes are up against is people who are sure that their pet are better, and just for that they are willing to fight anything new.

"the guggenheim works because it is a museum, and is ment to be a... hat. it talks more about urban fabric and art more so then stucture.

Yes but 3D-H don't just "talk" about spetacular display's it acturly suggest solutions to some of the heavyest problems in architecture today ; it suggest cheap strong structures and an easy way to build new nice houses, --- what's wrong with that, it even would suggest a core structure for any hat, it would not leave modern architecture as spetacular surfaces with nothing underneath it will complete a strong structure inside the hat, a structure easy to cover with floors and wall paneling

"architecture isnt all about structure and being able to make what you want.... look doesent count for much in most cases unless a building is made to be looked upon as opposed to.. well lived in."

Exactly, and now there are new way's that offer a core quality , better than the bare postmodern surface thinking, better than Lego thinking, and You could -- if you knew just the basic things in CAD, draw a fantastic house and know, that when every detail is drawn, then this technike will produce a reliable basic structure --- a structure that in 100 years can be repaired or renewed with say strong steel sheets cut into new frames , that fit exactly to the old or, in 20 years if your house are to small then this building technike allow you to expand the house with no problems --- and think about it, think about how innovative , real innovative this is, vompared today's spetacular arts museums that never offered new technikes or new way's to enchange architecture.
Tell them that you want innovation and new building technikes, new jobs and a lot of new houses to replace those lost. Make this oppotunity into a revolution in architecture and manufactoring of building compoments ; realy don't you think things can be made better than today ?

Sep 25, 06 6:26 am

ehem.... this topic is not about that... well actually it is. oh god what have i goten my self into?

per, there are better ways of doing what you sudgest. like sprayed concrete over a tensile form. its cheaper more acesible, can be design to fit needs can be reused and repaired much easier. the tensile stucture can be designed by computers so practically any form is doable and the concrete spraying process is really not hard to do... what you sudgest is ONLY a surface.... to relate what youre sayin back to this thread, and please dont respond with more off topic subjects, architecture is more then the built form so no matter what you offer as a tool can not be enough unless you learn to talk about it, learn ro think about it and learn to listen about it.

Sep 25, 06 8:05 am

Have you thought about civil or structural engineering instead?

Besides, don't tell me computer science doesn't have its own bullshit, there is just a lot more money in it. Web 2.0 etc. Empty buzzwords abound there as well. Just choose the ones you like.

Sep 25, 06 9:03 am

The difference is that in computer science, bullshit qualifies as a research agenda, but has to stop once the project gets started. In architecture there has to be a foundation of truth to get much of anything started. So kablakistan is right – both are equally full of bullshit.

What is important indy_is_crap is if you can tell the bullshit of one from the bullshit of the other. A CS degree will tell you nothing of post-structuralist philosophy, which is a tool lots of architects will use to bullshit, and you will be completely unprepared to tell if they are saying something intelligent or talking crap.

I recommend to you Phil Agre's Computation and human experience. Phil was trained at MIT's AI lab during it's heyday, and just after finishing his dissertation got into the classics of poststructuralism – Derrida, Foucault, and Heidegger primarily. That text was his attempt to bridge the distance between the two realms of knowing.

Sep 25, 06 9:56 am
le bossman

you need to know when to listen and when not to listen.

also, duchamp's piece was essentially asking the same questions that you are. by writing "R. Mutt" on the side, duchamp was saterizing the fact that the value of art very often is found in the name that is attached to it. the real art in this case is not the urinal, but the fact that the "art" was submitted under an assumed name, and not well received. it was a different story all together when it was revealed that duchamp in fact did the piece, and to prove that specific point.

Sep 25, 06 10:24 am

klayman you are quite right ---- but think about it, 3D-H offer an exact assembly framework even for pooring cement ; maby you havn't realised this, but when I say sheet material ,then these sheets cut could carry holes, holes for reinforcement rods --- you could assemble a structure from cheap sheets, cut to form any shape with floors and walls, place reinforcement rods in holes cut transversing the 3D-H framework make sure the "holes" in the 3D-H are the right size to hold the concrete and that way overcome some of the restrictions pooring concrete as how you describe.
But do not forget that 3D-H offer floor supports going in one with the frames that continur up the floors , and on the way , 3D-H frames can create the all-nessery foundations --- and emagine how floor beams like magic, grow while the framework are assembled.
I do not say 3D-H must stand alone, I say 3D-H produce the all-nessery structure when objects reach a cirtain size, it also produce a honeycomb structure that reach top strength when both sides of it is paneled, but there are so many applications for a "building-structure" that is generated by the computer program, generated with top accurancy and will build what you see, beside invite to further develobing and many different materials, --- and it even offer itself as formworks easy generatet with computer ; you can even chose to "see" it as steel reinforcement ; steel sheets cut with holes that make it suieted for just that porpus, --- realy 3D-H as I present it is just the basic idea, it can easily be further develobed and will offer measures that hold.

Sep 25, 06 10:36 am

AP - I've heard great things about that book.

Feb 1, 07 8:37 pm

each field has its own degree of controversy. which means only that some endeavors are more disputable than others. math is the least controversial activity that man engages in. at the other extreme there are things like the making of art or fashion, chock full to the rim of diputable and conceptually flimsy propositions. somewhere in between is architecture.

if certainty gets you up in the morning don't do architecture. its full of wonderfully opinionated, disputable bullshit notions. so full it requires things like 'belief'.

Feb 1, 07 11:08 pm

i believe we need stronger integration within the engineering design realm, and the architectural design realm. Lately, at least from watching some activity in universities in Europe (particularly stutgart in germany with its prefab and lightweight structure programs) and even japan, there is a lot of potential advancement.. and i mean advancement in the sense of industrial revolution... i think we are on that cusp, and with technology and aesthetic/design being more integral, the future looks pretty damn sweet.

i just must say, its an interesting time to get into architecture and engineering these days. im particularly glad im not in the 80s right now, in terms of architectural education... we are taking a turn in a different direction... good ridance u old fogies! (jus kidding..i actually thank you guys for the information/cultural significance that was achieved.. but i cant wait till you guys see us make the next turn..)

Feb 2, 07 8:48 pm

RIP Indy...

Feb 2, 07 9:39 pm

Block this user

Are you sure you want to block this user and hide all related comments throughout the site?

  • ×Search in: