“If we are to offer a sound advice about how architectural practice ought to function, we must know more about how it functions now” (Cuff 1992: 6)
Until the 1970s architectural researchers have focused all their attention on the professional products – buildings and places. The process of design was considered as insignificant; it started receiving empirical attention rather late. The first studies that bear witness for architectural processes date from the 1980s. Two works are paradigmatic in this respect: Donald Schön’s work on educational practice (Schön 1987) and Dana Cuff’s work on professional architectural practice (Cuff 1992). While Schön argued that reflection-in-action stands against the systematic, scientific, linear way of knowing basing his observations on studio-situated ethnography of professional schools, Cuff’s ethnography dug deeply into the significance of the daily professional lives of architects and offered a better understanding of architectural practice.
Topic: BOTTEGA: ecology of design practice
Theme Editor: Albena Yaneva
This special issue of Ardeth invites contributions that will address the ecology of contemporary architectural practice. “Ecology of practice” (Stengers 2010) is a politically sensitive concept used to capture and understand contemporary design practice. We invite contributions that will:
- scrutinize architectural practice as complex ecology involving actors with variable ontology, scale, and politics
- reflect theoretically and analytically on the concept of ‘practice’ and trace how practice has been tackled from different perspectives: from the ‘Story of Practice’ of Cuff and Blau’s ‘Architects and Firms’, to recent studies of architectural and engineering practices based on multi-sited ethnographies
(OMA, Foster, FOA/AZPA, Kuma, Arup, etc.)
- explore empirically different formats of design (modeling, presenting, competing, exhibiting, etc.) reflecting meticulously on their specific epistemologies and their role for the ‘reflective practice’ of architectural design
- reflect on the importance of ethnography for understanding contemporary architectural practices; what is the nature, the epistemological underpinnings, the potential pitfalls, and the political dimensions and challenges of architectural ethnography?
Manuscripts should be sent to the Editorial Board specifying the call for papers the manuscript answers to (i.e. Ardeth #2_Bottega):
Detailed guidelines are available on the magazine website: