The End of Critical Thinking

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 ‘The End of Critical Thinking’ has been consistently brought up in seminal works  by renowned historians, theoreticians, and critics such as Manfredo Tafuri’s ‘Theories and History of Architecture’, Peter Eisenman’s ‘The End of the Classical’, and Hal Foster’s ‘Post-critical.’ The early 21st century’s bubble economy and radical simulacra of the digital has repeatedly produced and consumed the architectural spectacle, paralyzing the symbiotic relationship of architectural discourse and critical design practice. Architectural discourse, as the dialectics of historicism and anti-historicism, has currently lost its philosophical directionality and criticism-as-history is misinterpreted as a mere style.

Consequentially, productive pluralism has been superceded by consuming relativism, a progressive avant-garde by aimless experimentalism, and a phenomenological place-making by objectified form-making. Thus, the empty formalism of a modern picturesque prevails, while  design practice has lost its critical subjectivity in the architectural discourse. Tectonics Lab investigates, through theoretical research and practice, the absence of philosophy, directionality, and ‘The End of Critical Thinking’ from a retrospective perspective. Ultimately, we are proposing a novel methodology of critical architecture design.

Sublating technological fetishism and pseudo-digital expressionism, Cheongun Residence pursues a sustainable, transhistorical type which is the very idea of architecture, closest to its essence. The concept of history and tradition is not to be reduced to obsolete antiquities or exclusive locality, but to be defined as active catalysts for a typological evolution of the discipline’s autonomy. Type generates multi-layered substructures of space and form as it evolves in dialectic relationship with era and culture. Cheongun Residence was developed through the very notion of type and its autonomy in conjunction with materiality and tectonics.

The arbitrary misuse of architectural representation prevalent in contemporary design has relegated history, program, diagram, and process to being mere instruments of a pseudo-design process. Critical design practice, in this project, reinterprets type in both synchronic and diachronic ways, while avoiding common errors of arbitrary representation. First, we pursue generative syntactics of historical type over the superficiality of iconographical historicism. Second, we embrace the enduring values of architectural type over conceptual space as the iconic representation of programs. Third, we explore the potentiality of diagrams not as regulatory tools of geometry but as both generative process and inductive analysis for architectural type, the obvious precedent in this case being the nine-square grid.

The completion of a project does not mean the conclusion of architectural practice but signifies another new beginning of critical architecture, which instills autonomous critique into architectural discourse. Cheongun Residence is a theoretical design research project on the role of the classical, the meaning of type, the poetics of material and tectonics, and ultimately, the design methodology of critical architecture. The true innovation is not derived from immature anti-historicism or empty experiments as differentiation strategies, but is achieved through the novel critique and dialectic experiments of history, tradition, and modernity.