Definition of Making

Article Published in Pratt Journal of Architecture, Vol. Ill

This passage describes a philosophical perspective on the concept of 'making' in architecture, highlighting its cognitive and physical dimensions. Shifting from 'design' to 'make,' it captures the essence of creation, encompassing both mental and physical realms. The passage asserts the connection between human history and the evolution of objects and tools, portraying 'making' as a bridge that fosters shared knowledge beyond architecture.

Our journey revolves around the concept of, ‘making’. We hope, as Swift did with his  novel, "Gulliver's Travels", to illuminate and comment on our situation by redirecting our focus. We are interested in the architecture that is engaging with touch, altering foundations, reorienting perspectives, and guiding direction. We find reassurance in Giambattista Vico proposition that “we only know” of that which we have made or are capable of making.

Making is a cognitive act and a mode of knowing through direct intervention and participation in the world as opposed to an act of distancing. By focusing on the notion of making, we hope to avoid the tautological traps and paradoxes of such classic oppositions as action vs thought, object vs subjects, rationalism vs empiricism. 

For our purposes, it is important to emphasize that language relies heavily on experience from the world of space and objects to describe and categorize concepts of cognition (e.g., the words and phrases "understanding," "vast knowledge," "to know something inside and out," "insightfulness," "being in the know," 'feeling close to [knowing]," and "field of knowledge" all make references to spatial references). 

The notion of illumination can be better understood if one remembers that to cast light on any object means that others are left in the dark; the physical qualities of light inform and enrich the notion of illumination. We propose to make language transparent for a while and continue the search for meaning in the world of matter and space.

We propose to replace the word 'design' with the word 'make.' This action is mainly symbolic but remains important as such. Design describes the activity of architecture with an implicit bias, the mental model is favored, and the physical qualities are minimized. Making, on the other hand, refers to both the realms of mental and physical construction and acknowledges the dialectic quality of the process. Meaning and ideas are shifted -mixed, cut, fitted, tailored, and burned in a manner which is in some sense both in and out of our hands at the same time.

We do not want to simply disregard the distinctions between the terms 'mental' and 'physical'; they undoubtedly have their merits. Rather, this emphasis on making more accurately describes our relationship to that which we construct. The objects that surround us, the physical reality which we make, is to a large extent a definition of us as a modem or post-modem. 

How the nomenclature of historical periods has been named until now, is indicative of the importance that we put into our tools and objects: Paleolithic, Neolithic, Iron Age, Industrial, Postindustrial, etc. Our revolution is the history of our objects and tools, or the evolution of our tools and objects is our history.

We do not want to reduce making to a process, methodology, craft, ritual, or a formula for production. 

Predictability is not a goal and often accident contributes to invention and magic. Making is as important for other areas of human endeavor, as it is for architecture. Making can serve as a common ground among individuals have expertise in the in this creative process. This concept is referred to as “homo-faber”, underlining the idea that humans are inherently capable craftspeople.