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Communities of Tacit Knowledge. Architecture and its Ways of Knowing

Project leader at the Academy:
Angelika Schnell (IKA)

Overall project leader:
Tom Avermaete (ETH Zürich)

Project team:
Tim Anstey (Oslo School of Architecture)
Margitta Buchert (Leibniz Universität Hannover)
Janina Gosseye (ETH Zürich)
Christoph Grafe (Bergische Universität Wuppertal)
Klaske Havik (TU Delft)
Helena Mattsson (KTH School of Architecture Stockholm)
Gennaro Postiglione (Politecnico di Milano)
Peg Rawes (University College London, Bartlett School of Architecture)

Funded by:
European Union | Horizon 2020


European Union | Horizon 2020, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Networks
led by Angelika Schnell, Institute for Art and Architecture
Duration: 1.3.2020 – 28.2.2023

Communities of Tacit Knowledge has reached successfully the stage of Grant Agreement Preparation of the European Horizon 2020 research funding. The INT (Innovative Training Network) consists of architecture faculties from ten European Universities (ETH Zürich, TU Delft, Kungliga Tekniska Hoegskolan, Arkitektur og Designhogskolen I Oslo, Bergische Universität Wuppertal, Politecnico di Milano, Universiteit Antwerpen, University College London, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Universität Hannover and the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna) and several partners such as the Vlaams Architectuur Instituut, the Architekturzentrum Wien, De Smet Vermeulen Architects, Cityförster, SOMA Architecture, Snøhetta architects and others. Together they will now participate in the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions and will give young PhD students the opportunity to do research – theoretically and practically – about the specific knowledge used by architects in the design of building and cities. Participant of the IKA will be Angelika Schnell and Eva Sommeregger as members of the Design Paradigm Research program.

The Communities of Tacit Knowledge TACK ITN will focus on the concept of "tacit knowledge" in architecture. Tacit knowledge is a specific type of knowledge that architects employ when designing, which is also embodied in the material vectors that they design with; from treatises and drawings to models and buildings. Consequently, architectural designs are the result of complex and occasionally conflicting sets of requirements that can only be reconciled through processes of negotiation between different disciplines and different fields of knowledge. These negotiations imply forms of synergetic thinking, which often rely on implicit common understanding. Michael Polanyi has called the resulting type of knowledge "tacit", referring to the fact that the shared knowledge is so self-evident that it has become entirely implicit.

This ITN will train young researchers in the development of advanced theoretical frameworks and specialized methods for the analysis of the specific knowledge used by architects while designing buildings and cities. It focuses on the characteristics, the dissemination and the heuristic potential of this knowledge that is particular to architectural design practice. Structured around three training axes: (1) Approaching Tacit Knowledge: Identifying Methods and Histories, (2) Probing Tacit Knowledge: Concrete Cases and Approaches and (3) Situating Tacit Knowledge: Concepts and Theories.
The TACK ITN for the first time combines the expertise on tacit knowledge that has been developed at ten different research centres in Europe. Together with three cultural and three practice-based partners, these ten research centres will train a group of scholars to explore and conceptualize the very character of tacit knowledge to better understand its possible roles in addressing new and pressing issues in the built environment from alternative vantage points. This powerful combination of expertise from industry and academia, will introduce these ESRs to new heuristic methods and add to their inter-sectoral employability. Implementation of the TACK ITN will result in ten PhDs, three online training modules, an international colloquium, a major exhibition, a lecture- and debate series, a synthetic reader, a book, and a website providing public access to research results and events.