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Online | 06.12.2021, 19.00 h
Ort | Online

Lecture by Janina Gosseye and Klaske Havik, TU Delft.

The lecture is organised as a TACK talk, as a discussion between the partners, and streamed via YouTube on the TACK website. https://youtu.be/Ackv8wXcx7I

The annual lecture series at IKA in the academic year 2021/2022 will be organised in partnership with the EU research project Communities of Tacit Knowledge (TACK): Architecture and its Ways of Knowing, in which we are involved as one of ten academic partners.


The title and theme of the research project, and consequently of the lecture series, derive from the idea of “tacit knowledge”, which was introduced by Michael Polanyi and Gilbert Ryle starting in the 1950s. They addressed the fact that there is a whole range of forms of knowledge that we learn and apply implicitly, mainly through immediate physical implementation, without being able to explain them precisely. For Polanyi, this meant that, “we know more than we can say”. (Riding a bicycle is often cited as an example of “knowing how” rather than “knowing that”.) Architecture, and especially the architectural design process, fits well into this thesis. For although many architects make great efforts to explain and (post-) rationalise their design approaches, the actual process remains unknown, even when working in a team. The physical activity of sketching, drawing, building working models, etc. is individual and collective at the same time, since in addition to the subjective choice of forms and structures, there is also recourse to the familiar, because it is easy to communicate: processes, images and jargon, which in turn also promote habitual prejudices.

It would be easy to say that this implicit knowledge need not become explicit. This attitude has in fact intensified, especially as part of modernist criticism from the 1970s onwards: architecture should be autonomous again, should be art, and should do without rational explanatory patterns. But there are some points that, conversely, should make interest in tacit knowledge grow. First of all, of course, there is the increased use of digitalisation tools in the design process, which promotes rationalisation. If the only physical activity in designing is clicking a mouse, can something like tacit knowledge emerge? And wouldn’t we need it? By whom and how is architecture then explained? This leads to the second point. In times of crisis, construction should critically engage with the public. Enigmatic explanations of beautifully drawn architectural visions are no help. Conversely, an artistic process does not have to be described prosaically. Instead, awareness of and sensitivity to other kinds of knowledge should be communicated in order to be able to promote precisely the creative power of unconventional projects. And furthermore, research into “tacit knowledge” in architecture would at the same time be a contribution to “artistic research” in architecture, a field that is yet obscure and needs to be explored in greater detail, which task the ten doctoral students involved in the research project are taking on in particular.

*The research project is an Innovative Training Network for doctoral students, as part of the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions of the European Framework Programme Horizon 2020. The research project has received funding since March 2020 and will run for three years. The project involves ten doctoral students at ten European universities, along with nine architecture firms, three cultural institutions, and an advisory board consisting of six renowned academics in the fields of architecture and urbanism.


11 October 2021
Architecture and its Tacit Dimensions
Lara Schrijver, University Antwerp
Tom Avermaete, ETH Zurich

In the field of architecture several ‘epistemes’ are constantly at work, but often without being explicitly discussed or critically scrutinized. These tacit forms of knowledge not only inform but also determine the way that architects observe their environment and the way they intervene in it. This talk will address the presence of this ‘black box’ of epistemes within architectural culture and illustrate how it informs a new domain of architectural research.

Prof. dr. ir. Lara Schrijver is Professor in Architecture Theory at the University of Antwerp Faculty of Design Sciences. Earlier, she taught at Delft University of Technology (2005–2014) and the Rotterdam Academy of Architecture (2007–2013). She is editor for the KNOB Bulletin and has served as editor for ”Footprint“ journal and “OASE”. Her work has been published in various academic and professional journals. She is author of “Radical Games” (2009) and co-editor of “Autonomous Architecture in Flanders” (2016). She was co-editor for three editions of the annual review “Architecture in the Netherlands” (2016–2019).

Prof. dr. ir. Tom Avermaete is Professor at ETH Zürich, where he is Chair for the History and Theory of Urban Design. Avermaete has a special research interest in the post-war public realm and the architecture of the city in Western and non-Western contexts. He is the author of “Another Modern: The Post-War Architecture and Urbanism of Candilis-Josic-Woods” (2005) and “Casablanca, Chandigarh: A Report on Modernization” (2014, with Maristella Casciato). Avermaete has also edited numerous books, including “Shopping Towns Europe 1945-75: Commercial Collectivity and the Architecture of the Shopping Centre” (2017, with Janina Gosseye), and is a member of the editorial team of “OASE Architectural Journal” and the advisory board of the “Architectural Theory Review”, among others.

6. December 2021
Narratives of Tacit Knowledge
Klaske Havik, TU Delft
Janina Gosseye, TU Delft

This TACK talk will bring to the fore a few, specific, place-related narratives of tacit knowledge in architecture. These narratives will focus particularly on how tacit knowledge manifests itself in architectural pedagogy. Through case-study examples from around the globe, Klaske Havik and Janina Gosseye will highlight how in different places and at different points in time, different (often unspoken, but nonetheless intelligible) ideas have emerged regarding what architecture is, and how it is to be practiced and taught.

Klaske Havik will open the session with an introduction to the notion of narrative, explaining how literary and spoken language may offer information about site-specific social spatial practices. Indeed, it is often through stories that knowledge about particular ways of doing can be shared. Taking this notion to the field of architecture, and specifically that of architectural education, she will show how in some architectural schools -particularly those of Valparaiso and Porto, narrative approaches to architectural education have been developed.

Janina Gosseye’s lecture will focus on the formation and operation of communities of tacit knowledge in architecture. Narrating the events that were staged by architecture students in Brisbane (Australia) between 1967 and 1972 – which confronted ‘the establishment’ and, in doing so, conceived of an architecture with new social and cultural values – Gosseye’s talk will demonstrate how communities of tacit knowledge are shaped by codes and conventions, as well as reactions against existing codes and conventions; against prevailing modes of architectural design and practice.

Prof. Dr. Janina Gosseye is Associate Professor of Urban Architecture in the TUDelft Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment. Her research is situated at the nexus of architectural theory, urban design history, and social and political history, and has been published in international journals, including the Journal of Architecture, the Journal of Urban History, and Planning Perspectives. Gosseye has edited and authored several books, including Shopping Towns Europe 1945–75: Commercial Collectivity and the Architecture of the Shopping Centre, with Tom Avermaete (Bloomsbury, 2017), Speaking of Buildings: Oral History in Architectural Research, with Naomi Stead and Deborah van der Plaat (Princeton Architectural Press, 2019), Activism at Home: Architects Dwelling Between Politics, Aesthetics and Resistance, with Isabelle Doucet (Jovis, 2021), and, most recently, Urban Design in the 20th Century: A History, with Tom Avermaete (gta Verlag, 2021).

Prof. Dr. Klaske Havik is Professor of Methods of Analysis and Imagination at Delft University of Technology. In in her book Urban Literacy. Reading and Writing Architecture (2014), she related architectural and urban questions about the use, experience and imagination of place to literary language. In recent years, Klaske Havik has worked with her students on social-spatial topics such as the commons and urban narratives in both European and Latin-American contexts. Her editorial work includes the books Writingplace, Investigations in Architecture and Literature (2016) and Architectural Positions: Architecture, Modernity and the Public Sphere (2009) and multiple issues of architecture journal OASE, such as OASE#98 Narrating Urban Landscapes (2018), OASE#91 Building Atmosphere (2013), and OASE#85 Productive Uncertainty (2011). Klaske  Havik initiated the Writingplace Journal for Architecture and Literature, and is chair of the EU Cost Action Writing Urban Places.

January 2022
Tim Anstey, Oslo School of Architecture
Helena Mattsson, KTH Stockholm
Jennifer Mack, KTH Stockholm

March 2022
Christoph Grafe, Bergische Universität Wuppertal
Peg Rawes, Bartlett, UC London

May 2022
Margitta Buchert, Leibniz Universität Hannover
Gennaro Postiglione, Politecnico Milano
Gaia Caramellino, Politecnico Milano