“It seems like architecture is in an in-between place right now. Nobody can really tell you what it is.”
-Thom Mayne (Conversation #1)
In this inaugural issue of Babble, we prompted our peers to submit a single image of a project (process photo, sketch, finished drawing, or something generally provocative) with a statement on its meaning to them. Simultaneously, we reached out to faculty and visiting critics to establish formal conversations that would unpack the diverse fields of interests that make up our school’s pedagogical approach. We wanted to unearth the connective tissue that links the work being done at PennDesign with a broader discourse of architecture. In doing so, we took on the challenge of addressing the identity crisis that exists within our school, as a product of these varied pedagogies. While cohesion with a multiplicity of approaches can be challenging to identify, we have tackled this issue through a multimodal approach that allows the medium to be the message.
The ‘babbling’ of this first issue takes place between students, practitioners, and academics with varying design interests. From talks on contingency within architecture to the relationship between fiction and function, we started to identify commonalities. What is architecture’s role in the field of idiosyncratic thinkers? What opportunities does engaging with abstraction, subversion, and realism open up for young designers? How do we mitigate variation in an excitingly diverse time in architecture? While it is impossible to fully flesh out and remediate issues of identity in a single publication, the intention behind Babble is to understand a multifaceted approach to architecture that relies on and celebrates the constant feedback loop required to progress design. How we identify ourselves within a global design discourse is reliant on our ability to converse, synthesize, and reposition.