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Associate Professor Bjørn Otto Braaten
Work Package 3, Complexity & Depth, focuses on the relationship between inner and outer aspects of the architect’s role,
architectural education, and the learning process itself.
In this context, complexity concerns the interrelationship and integration of different categories of seeing and understanding.Ar-
chitecture is a transdisciplinary field and the specific character, strength, and responsibility of the architect’s role is to represent
integral perspective
in the complex processes of environmental planning and design. It is a challenging task to develop
thismulti-perspective understanding without falling into the trap of unconstructive relativism. To relinquish established and fixed
perspectives is troublesome for most of us. Open-ended creative processes is a way of training this ability to be flexible and at
the same time centered.
In several essays concerning the unconscious aspects of art and architecture, the Finnish writer and architect Juhani Pallas-
maa calls attention to the concept of
deep structures
As a rule, our actions are neither accidental nor arbitrary; they contain both conscious and subconscious motives.
In a work of art or a building there are conscious aspirations to reflect stylistic surface structures alongside the deep
structures resulting from subconscious motives. Thus in our works, objects and buildings, there are always two narratives.
The influence and potential of unconscious aspects in creative work are well documented, but have not been much discussed
or developed in the field of architectural education. Intentions and conscious choices are crucial when creating architecture,
but processes leading to a works of high quality and deeper levels of meaning still need to be nurtured by more than rational
components. Thus the creative process can be seen as a dance between rational considerations and a dialog with the uncon-
Sensibility is a physical, emotional, and intuitive ability that is crucial in any aesthetic experience, creative work, and social
interaction, and is therefore important to cultivate in architectural education. Also the ability to recognize and acknowledge the
difference between external sense impulses and the internal, subjective experience of such impulses are part of developing
aesthetic competence. When cultivated, the awareness of what is going on within—of thoughts, emotions, sensory modifica-
tion, and intuitions—can be a way to discover potentials in situations where others may only see problems. This level of aware-
ness, called
, can be cultivated through different practices such as martial arts, mindfulness, and creative-flow
workshops. Architectural education thus becomes more than a vehicle for a professional career; it is a way of self-exploration,
a way of developing the whole person to become an influential actor in the solving the problems of our time.
A fundamental aspect of architectural education is to develop understanding and a taste for architectural and aesthetical qual-
ity. However, these qualities are hard to define and seem to change regularly, depending on time, sociocultural context and
individual preferences. What is seen as good, beautiful, and true in one context may be seen as unethical, vulgar, and banal
in another. A traditional, normative perspective operates with a more or less given set of criteria for determining what is good or
bad, or right or wrong. It is then a matter of cultural capital, political power, or socio-cultural trends to be in position to define the
rules. By contrast, a pluralistic perspective may open up for different set of rules, but will often pay a heavy price with the strong
tendency towards relativism: “everything is all right,” and “bad is good.” Today, there is a need for a
developmental integral
map, where quality can be discussed within a perspective of continuous evolving aesthetical paradigms.
1. An Integral Perspective: Ken Wilber, The Integral Approach
2. Deep structures: Juhani Pallasmaa, The Two Languages of Architecture, The Mind of the Environment
3. Presensing: Otto Scharmer, Theory U
4. Developmental Integral Aesthetics: Howard Gardner: Multiple Intelligences