Tacit (Re)Turns

Encounters in Architectural Education, 1970s and 2020s
by Hamish Lonergan

Tacit Knowledge—with its intertwined conception of unconscious, embodied and social knowing—has long played an important role in design pedagogy. Architecture schools, and often the individual studios within them, form ‘communities of tacit knowledge’, bound by shared attitudes and conventions. Nevertheless, tacit knowledge has rarely been addressed directly in architectural theory, except during two tacit ‘turns’ in the 1970s and in the last decade. This research explores the role—and perception—of tacit knowledge in architectural pedagogy during these periods through moments where members of various ‘communities of tacit knowledge’ encountered each other: the International Laboratory of Architecture and Urbanism (ILAUD), 1976-80; and end-of-semester crits at ETH Zurich, 2020-21. Here, tacit knowledge became tangible through the disagreement, negotiation and cooperation of communities from different cultural contexts. To narrate these moments of encounter, the research develops a set of critical research tools, drawing on a body of feminist and queer theory: autoethnography, re-enactment and fictocriticism. Ultimately, the research uses these tools to examine the tacit knowledge that remains stubbornly hidden with the explicit documents of traditional archives and to unpack the prejudices and biases of its transfer in architectural education.

This research forms part of a larger EU Horizons 2020 project, ‘TACK
Communities of Tacit Knowledge: Architecture and its Ways of Knowing’, grant no. 860413

Hover Image: Re-enactment progress, 2021. Photograph by Jana Scheithauer

Hamish Lonergan