PRODUCTORA (250 words statement written for booklet ‘Proof’ / Young Architects Forum, Architectural League New York, Selected Entry, February 2007)
Feyerabends epistemological masterpiece ‘Against Method’ was first published as an essay in 1970; as the name of the writing suggests it is an critic on the idea that science has a single ‘method’ to expand knowledge. Feyerabend describes the history of science as a complex fabric of serendipity, poetic challenges, erroneous observations and hazardous discoveries in a continuous dialectic with a rational and scientific procedure. Contradiction and irrationality are therefore just a much a part of a strategy as the established scientific roads to enlightenment. They are particularly important, he states, in the challenging of fundamental assumptions which leads to ‘revolutions’ or ‘paradigm shifts’.
In the field of architecture we can state the same conclusions. Our architectural projects always start with an anarchic series of intuitive explorations. Sometimes they might be linked to specific environmental parameters, budget limitations or programmatic necessities; in other occasions they might be mere formal explorations through drawings or models. There is no way to judge the supremacy of one method above the other: the only way to discover the value of these initial intuitions is by further developing the project, to make headway. When a strong diagram looses its power during the course of a project, maybe the initial axioms are wrong. When - on the contrary - the conceptual idea becomes stronger and we start to perceive a correspondence between the initial starting point and the resulting solutions (technical, structural, architectonical...) the project is ‘proofed’.
(Illustration from Paul K. Feyerabend, Against Method: Outline of an Anarchistic Theory of Knowledge, 1975)