होम Journal of Architectural Education Search/Research || The Clerk and the Ignoramus

Search/Research || The Clerk and the Ignoramus

यह पुस्तक आपको कितनी अच्छी लगी?
फ़ाइल की गुणवत्ता क्या है?
पुस्तक की गुणवत्ता का मूल्यांकन करने के लिए यह पुस्तक डाउनलोड करें
डाउनलोड की गई फ़ाइलों की गुणवत्ता क्या है?
खंड:
32
भाषा:
english
पत्रिका:
JAE
DOI:
10.2307/1424373
Date:
May, 1979
फ़ाइल:
PDF, 746 KB
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अपनी समीक्षा पोस्ट करने के लिए साइन इन करें या साइन अप करें
आप पुस्तक समीक्षा लिख सकते हैं और अपना अनुभव साझा कर सकते हैं. पढ़ूी हुई पुस्तकों के बारे में आपकी राय जानने में अन्य पाठकों को दिलचस्पी होगी. भले ही आपको किताब पसंद हो या न हो, अगर आप इसके बारे में ईमानदारी से और विस्तार से बताएँगे, तो लोग अपने लिए नई रुचिकर पुस्तकें खोज पाएँगे.
1

Search/Research || Notes on Research in Practice

साल:
1979
भाषा:
english
फ़ाइल:
PDF, 442 KB
2

Search/Research || Prologue

साल:
1979
भाषा:
english
फ़ाइल:
PDF, 414 KB
The Clerk and the Ignoramus
Author(s): Chris Arnold
Source: JAE, Vol. 32, No. 4, Search/Research (May, 1979), pp. 2-3
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. on behalf of the Association of Collegiate Schools of
Architecture, Inc.
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Chris Arnold lectures at the Department ofAr-

while re-search is backtracking to prove

chitecture at Berkeley and is the President ofBuild-

the truth of the search. The institutionali-

ing Systems Development, Inc, San Francisco.

zation of research emphasizes the latter

task, rather than the former.
So researchers research the research-

able-that is to say, those things that lend
themselves to classical research.

This is amazingly limiting, but it is the rec-

ognized basis of research. One of the re-

sults of this has been the rise of what I
would call clerical research. Clerical work

consists of copying documents containing

ideas and information developed by

others, providing numerical data, organiz-

The Clerk and the Ignoramus

ing data in ways devised by others, and
drawing conclusions through the use of
precise criteria set at a higher level. The
essence of clericalism is the suspension of
judgment and its replacement by automatic meth; ods. This is a description of
much research: thought is replaced by the

accumulation of data. By some paradoxical

S. . well-intentioned efforts to determine by
the crudest kind of cost-benefit how to decide

planning issues may well be bracketed by our
descendants with the arguments of medieval
theologians over the number of angels who

could dance on the point of a needle-Max
Nicholson.

Style, the way one performs an activity, is
associated with a personal approach that is

predominantly aesthetic. Style is qualified
as beautiful, elegant, crude: style used as a
qualifier on its own implies excellence in
execution, rather than content. The recognition of style in performance is itself a
form of elitist praise, a term now replaced
in sports and show business by the term
class. However expressed, there seems to
be a need for this recognition of personal
excellence and idiosyncrasy.
This whole notion seems alien to the

idea of classical search, "the accumulation
of knowledge by systematic observation,
deliberate experiment, rational theory."')
Intrinsic to this are the concepts of testing

and measurement: the setting of criteria,
testing to establislh by dispassionate measurement whether these are met, and
evaluation of results to determine if an

hypothesis has been proven.
But scientists agree that style is promi-

nent in their field. If you doubt the exis-

tence of style in research-personal,

idiosyncratic, aesthetic-there are books
like James Watson's The Double Helix to
make clear its importance to researchers
working at the very highest level of scien-

tific sophistication. It becomes even more

apparent in Horace Judson's story of

DNA,2 in which the styles of the main participants are brilliantly described. Listen to
the physicist Max Perutz:
1 sometimes enviedJim (Watson). My own

problem took thousands of hours of hard work,

measurements, calculations. I often thought

2

there must be some way to cut through it-that there must be, zif only I could see it, an
elegant solution. There wasn't any. ForJim's
there was an elegant solution, which is what I

admired. He found it partly because he never
made the mistake ofconfusing hard work with
hard thinking-he has never spent more than
two years on any problem.

Here are two styles-the "systematic

process involving experiment... " is in
both-but in Watson's case, it is concealed

quirk, the clerical interpretation of numerical data is then hailed as the measure of

truth, while insight and judgment are

deemed unscientific and suspect.

We have slipped into a situation in which
the value of much of our research is gauged

by the degree to which it is methodologi-

by a scientific attitude operating at a totally

cally consistent and internally elegant, not
by the usefulness of the hypothesis that it

tion of scientific research.

exemplary research is done to authenticate

different plane of thought, involvement
and order than is expressed in our defini-

Style begins as an individual way of

working, but at some point there is a transfer to the work itself, which establishes its
own style, to which later workers conform.

sets out to prove. Much elegant and

foolish and useless hypotheses.
Hypotheses, the flywheels of the research process, are arrived at through a
creative route which is highly personal,
unpredictable, uncontrollable, and some-

We are familiar with this phenomenon in
architecture, for its history is predominantly one of style. We can see-without
really understanding the mechanism-that

Wegener, who, as a lecturer on meteorology and astronomy in Germany in 1910,

the individual way of working of a Mies van

was struck with a strange idea to which he

der Rohe or Le Corbusier becomes a style

devoted his life. His hypothesis, which he
published extensively, was that the geographical fit between South America and

which then imposes its own discipline on a

generation of followers.

Research at the double helix level is ob-

times cranky. Take the case of Alfred

Africa suggested that these continents had

once been one, and had then split and

viously not the norm-it is an aspiration.
As such, it seems that research should be

drifted apart. The other continents could

done in different ways, and use such qual-

more or less be fitted together in the same

ities as insight, intuition, imagination,
boldness, risk-taking-qualities that seem

to me to be intrinsic to the pursuit of
knowledge. But these qualities and ways of

working are suspect to the conventional
researcher, whose tools are restricted and

laborious.

There is a reason for this: the mass of

today's research is not directed towards the

pursuit of knowledge, but towards its au-

thentication. Science tells us that a theory

or observation is not part of knowledge
until proven, and so research is often not

the noble investigation of unknown terri-

sort of pattern. He argued persuasively
and his theory of continental drift was
widely debated in the 1920s, but it was
soon shown that his data were hopelessly

inaccurate and the dynamic forces too

small by a factor of a million or so. As one
of his opponents said, "it is not scientific,
but takes the familiar course of an initial

idea, a selective search through the literature for corroborative evidence, ignoring
most of the facts that are opposed to the
idea, ending in a state of auto-intoxication
in which the subjective idea comes to be

considered on objective fact." After

tory, but its measurement after someone

Wegener's death, his theory gradually was

has taken the risk to discover it. Thus there

dropped from the teaching and textbooks

are two distinct styles of researching: one

of geology.

long been recognized-by, for example,

considered to be perfectly correct.4
The, story makes an important point: we

relating to discovery (or invention), and
the other to authentication. They have

the French mathematician, Poincare: "it is
by logic that we prove, but by intuition that

we discover."3 The discovery is search,

The theory of continental drift is now
have always known that cranks are not to

be trusted, but the elaborate safeguards of
authentication can also be faulty, and proof

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is not absolute, but limited by the state of

must, as the practicing designer does, be

knowledge. Uncertainty is uncomfortable,

prepared to accept that the search is much
more important than the research, and that
the question of hypothesis is more important that clerical authentication. Parts of

but healthy-it is the cocksureness of

much conventional research and technol-

ogy that is the most irritating and damaging. I feel that our uncertainties about the
environment are much healthier than the

the design can be proven: the laws of
physics and biology are immutable and the

certainties "proven" by our clerical pro-

7,., .i:.
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rc'

cesses.

Our current obsession with authentication in research can lead us into some

foolish situations. Public recognition of a
problem, followed by political recognition, enables massive research efforts to
begin, generally on very conservative and
methodologically unassailable lines. Scien-

\3

tific research of this type may, of course,

I

play a role in revealing aspects of a problem of which the public would only much
later, or never, become aware. Massive research into carcinogenics, for example, can

reveal dangers that less sophisticated observation would probably never uncover.
But this same process also reveals "dangers" that the public often, and probably
rightly, regards as nonsense. The 1958 Delaney Amendment to the Food, Drug and

Cosmetics Act bans any food additive

shown to cause cancer in any animal test, so
the FDA had to ban saccharin when tests
showed that rats became cancerous after

consuming the equivalent of humans consuming 800 cans of diet soda a day for life.
This represents a triumph of clerical scien-

.

'

:

I

g

/

/'

!

:

Aalto's sketch solution to a daylighting problem.

resides in style.

In earlier times, the great scientist was
an all-rounder: he combined his imaginative flashes with physical experimentation

and analysis that led to proof. This is still
sometimes true-it is clearly true in the
case of the double helix, whose discovery
was extraordinarily similar to the design
process in architecture. Essentially, the
double helix riddle was solved by building
a model that met certain experimentally

tific thinking over reasonable judgment.

observed criteria. In our language, the

agency agreement has set limits on the ex-

know this feeling: the point at which a de-

Today (February 1979), a new intertent to which animal experiments involving gross overdoses should be accepted.
Sometimes style, in the sense of person-

ality, can dominate the traditional
safeguards that the classical authentication

process is designed to guard against. Such

was the case of Sir Cyril Burt, English psy-

chologist, whose work had an enormous,
worldwide influence, and who, as educational psychologist to the London County
Council, also had access to monumental
quantities of research data. Most of his
energy and research went into proving that

mental abilities are inborn, easily measured, and concentrated in higher social

classes of the white community. Critical to

the authentication of this viewpoint was a
paper, Intelligence and Social Mobility, purportedly based on the records of 40,000

London families. It has recently been

shown, conclusively, that his research was
fraudulent---even to the extent that he
used and quoted imaginary research assistants. How did he get away with it? One
answer lies in his style: he was a formidable
personality, with a deadly facility for criticizing others' work, and an immense skill
with language. He could "tear to ribbons
anything shoddy or inconsistent." When

he died in 1972, his obituary said "his

sharp intellect and vast erudition...

leave a total impression of immense quality, of a born nobleman."s We have more
modern words now for his type; but the
important thing is the immense power that

model met the program. Most designers

sign answers the demands of the program

and solves the formal puzzle. Conven-

tional architectural design meets many of
the conditions for discovery: every designer develops an hypothesis about how
the program is to be met; experiments are

performed in drawings and models, even

in simple, analytical calculations. Alvar

Aalto's 1927 drawing is a beautiful example of designer's research. It shows a visual

exploration of a problem whose solution

will be a concrete realization of gra-

phics-an appropriate research tool for the
problem.
The building itself is the final experiment-its occupancy is the test. Missing in

design must be tuned to these. But design
as a whole must also involve value judg-

ment and risk.

I do not draw the currently popular dis-

tinction between research and design. On
the contrary, I believe that it is only when
design is seen as a conscious research activity, and vice versa, that significant breakthroughs can be made. It is nonsense to believe that a group of mindless form-givers

are fed absolute knowledge by a group of

logical analysts, through some kind of filter, and to improve design, one only has to
improve the filter and improve the analysis. It is symptomatic of current attitudes
that Progressive Architecture, in attempting

to define research for purposes of its

awards program, defined research as that
which is not design. I think that the poor
quality of most environmental research,
and the general insecurity and gloom of
many of its practitioners, stems from the
subliminal realization that the real research
is going on in design offices.
I am not suggesting the complete renunciation of classical research in favor of individual whims and intuitions-a world of
poets or ofclerks is equally alarming. But I
would suggest that environmental design is
still groping for its appropriate style, and
the designer's style is a more fruitful model

for environmental research than the pro-

cess of authentication. The testing and
evaluation of design-style research will
remain to some extent unsusceptible to
numerical objective evaluation--qualita-

tive and appropriate only within a particular cultural context. As such, we cannot afford to limit research to value-free evaluation, because the environment is predominantly a qualitative and value-rich field. A

"value-free" environmental design re-

search will also tend to be valueless.
References

this process, in terms of the requirements

'Ziman, John; The Force of Knowledge, Cambridge, 1976.

But the architectural world is very rich in

DNA," The New Yorker, November 27, December 4, 11, 1978.

of the classical model, are the objective
criteria for testing, and their evaluation.
hypotheses and experiments, and I believe
it is true that the kinds of objective and

measurable criteria that are the basis of the
natural and physical sciences do not exist in
the combined physical, social, cultural, and

political context of the environmental

world. I seriously question whether they
ever will, and I believe the search for objective criteria that can bring environmen-

2Judson, Horace Freeland; "Annals of Science:

3Poincare, quoted by biophysicist Thomas Hayes,

in the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory News
Magazine, Summer 1977,
4This account is adaptedfrom the The Force of
Knowledge.
SGillie, Oliver; "Sir Cyril Burt and the Great IQ
Fraud," The New Statesman, London, November

24, 1978.

!Judson: op cit.
'Aalto drawing from Alvar Aalto, Wittenborn &

tal research into line with the "proving"i
tradition of classical science is abortive,

Company, New York, 1963.

and can lead only to insecurity and frustra-

The heading quotation by Max Nicholson is from

We must be prepared to accept a much
broader basis of authentication, and we

Department of the Environment, Her Majesty's
Stationery Office, London, 1972.

tion.

How Do You Want To Live, published by the

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