References are the basis of every learning activity, it is amply demonstrated, and, in the field of design, this fact is doubly true. Since the first modern reformulation of educational models, the pedagogy of architectural design, like any other technical-artistic discipline, has admitted very few theoretical notions which can be generalized at all. In order to learn by doing, the indication, the norm, or the rule have never had the same effectiveness as a located and contextual reference to a certain way of operating or its result. Such an interpretation of references – operational rather than normative – places the act of design and its teaching on the same level as other disciplines – from painting to sculpture, from literature to music, from photography to moviemaking – all interested in a reflection on the ways of their doing, also through the observation of the ways of doing of one or more chosen references. In addition, if it is recognized that the ways of doing belong to a common or even super-disciplinary domain, references acquire an extraordinarily broad meaning, potentially capable of going beyond the traditional disciplinary boundaries. For this reason, research, analysis, and the correct use of the most appropriate references have always represented one of the founding factors of the teaching process in this field, also by virtue of a polysemy which, depending on the moment, has lent itself to different interpretations.
The term can refer, alternatively or simultaneously, to the project understood as a process, as a product, or as a performance, according to different degrees of adherence to its reference. It can indicate a model to be followed in its entirety, a unit of measure to relate to, or a connection that is established between one’s own and others’ work, be it a building, a drawing, a text, or any work produced by disciplines whose knowledge is achieved by doing. And in the same way, it can be understood both in a systemic sense, as a set of values that construct meaning, and in an analytical sense, as a term of comparison for a single aspect or character of it. It can be a quote, an allusion, or even just a hint to another project, as it can be given in terms of analogy, conformity, or adherence to a certain system. In any case, what is certain is that, today, the use of references is experiencing a substantial crisis, in many ways paradoxical.
There has never been a time when access to an impressive variety of references has been easier, and their role has been more questioned. Real-time communication and the global migration of ideas coincided, without particular causal links, with the birth of a post-critical attitude towards the interpretation of reality and with the exasperation of a visual culture that has flattened on the surface of the image. The result is that the overabundance of references that are available today appears inversely proportional to the ability to use them in an instrumental sense, and it seems more necessary than ever to bridge the gap between these two data, without prejudice of any kind. In a vertical sense, through a teaching model capable of constructing new methods of critical analysis matching the current interpretative systems, or in a horizontal sense, by developing methodologies to enhance this extraordinary accessibility beyond established means and habits.
The seventh issue of Stoà will therefore question the role of references as a methodological teaching tool, through a survey of teaching practices and ongoing pedagogical experiences, which refer to methods of research, interpretation, and introjection of knowledge through the comparison with its processes and its products. The goal is to build a constellation of practices and cultural positions that make reference, understood in a variable way as a quote, term of comparison, or model, a functional tool for learning, in light of the paradigm changes that reality requires to face. In this sense, there are three thematic branches within which editors propose to collect critical reflections, identified by as many dualisms, designed to invite authors to elaborate new possibilities for reconciliation:
1. Systematic vs. instrumentality
2. Adherence vs. reworking
3. Critical capacity vs. possibility of access
Abstracts in English or Italian (max. 2500 characters) should be submitted by 14 November 2022 to email@example.com
More information can be found here.