N. John Habraken (john@habraken.org)

Around the Black Hole

Critique of ideology in architectural education, in: Plan. Cambridge: MIT School of Architecture and Planning, 1980.


Back in 1980 the Dean of the School of Architecture and Urban Studies at MIT called on the faculty to contribute to a publication of the school and its present activities. "Around the Black Hole" was a too lengthy attack on the lack of substance in architectural education and a call for re-examination.

After some initial commotion among MIT’s ever alert students, its message disappeared without much of a trace to be rediscovered by colleagues in Europe some sixteen years later ( Jan.1996, the 1980 article was reprinted in Stoa, annual review of EAAE, European Association of Archtectural Education) and, rereading it I conclude that it is still pertinent and still too elaborately argued.

The article was my first attempt to point out the lack of a shared knowledge base in our profession combined with the lack of interest in method in designing. It seeks to show that this collective indifference is related to the myth of the avant-garde which seeks only self expression and is against anything shared or methodical. It argues how this does not allow us to deal with the many problems specific to our Modern and Post-modern condition.

The same topics I brought up again, in a more detached way, in the chapter "Forms of Understanding". in: The Education of the Architect, Post Renaissance, Post-Modern. Martha Pollak, Editor. But because anger and irritation are hardly concealed in 'Around the Black Hole', the message remains fresh and perhaps more fun to read.


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[Around the Black Hole]