Keywords:radical pedagogy, architecture pedagogy, architectural experimentation, post-digital, Texas rangers, Bauhaus school
“What would be the ideal education to prepare anyone to produce in today’s society: Fake news, the rise of influences, the waning of the Western culture, a kind of unprecedented amalgamation of anything goes / nothing works?”
Rem Koolhaas | After Architecture in Virgil Abloh, “Figures of Speech”, 2022
Since the turbulent constructivist revolution, the emergence of the ‘old’ Bauhaus school in the 1920s and 1930s and the radical pedagogical innovations of the 1960s and 70s pursuant to another 50 years, we may now expect the discipline of architecture to be on the verge of a new wave. What course will architecture take in the wake of the post-digital? There seems to be a resonance today with the topics of the 1970s: new technologies, civil protests, the environment, the oil-natural gas crisis and energy conservation. Past experimentation shows evidence that disruptions in academia and practice were essential to foster creativity and the emergence of new ideas in architecture. Beatriz Colomina, historian and founder of the Modernity and Media PhD program at Princeton has extensively researched mid. 20th-century practice, media and pedagogy. She investigated the significance of media types in promoting architectural ideas and how publications and exhibitions of experimental and never-built work were essential in the development of architecture and its discourse. Colomina’s survey and research of the immediate past argues the importance of ‘disruptions’ providing space for creativity to flourish. After the political, social and moral failures of World War II, architects were reluctant to adapt or submit to a singular ideology. Architects were hesitant to accept the modernist manifesto which swept away history and ignored historical precedent. Post-modernist response to modernists and the emerging avant-garde radically changed architectural practice and pedagogy. There were two primary post-war education models in America: The Ecole des Beaux-Art (the French model) and The American Academy. The Bauhaus school was reactionary to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. The other track was homegrown American vernacular, a blend of regionalism and pragmatism. The Texas Rangers a team of emerging architects and educators lead by Harwell H. Harris, Colin Rowe, Bernhard Hoesli, Robert Slutzky and John Hejduk, among others. The Rangers disrupted the status quo with an alternate approach to architectural pedagogy. This short-lived ‘underground’ phenomenon transformed architectural education sending sparks throughout American academic institutions that reached Europe and impacted architecture education worldwide. Architectural practice, learning and pedagogy have been influenced and guided by the constant and unpredictable disruptions witnessed throughout the second half of the 20th century. We must hedge the current and future direction of architecture watering the roots vital to praxis, learning and pedagogy by maintaining research, experimentation and those incidental ‘gaps’ to ensure architecture’s intellectual content and participation in cultural production and idea building.