Author Dana Cuff defines Praxis in her text, Architecture: The Story of Practice: “architecture [is] a practice or collection of practices, an art.” Jeff and I decided to discuss design and how this aspect of architectural practice relates to his praxis.
For our conversation, I decided to bring with me an article by Kim Dovey, titled “Architectural Ethics: A Dozen Dilemmas”. I had read this text in school and thought it would be a valuable resource to reference during the discussion. Dovey lists twelve specific topics relating to ethics and social justice that architects must always consider. The author poses numerous rhetorical questions about each and allows the reader to decide what is morally right or wrong.
Jeff and I began our conversation by considering the difference between ethics and morals. We decided that a moral is a personal value and subjective in nature, while ethics refer to universal fairness and whether a specific action is responsible. As an architect, you take a symbolic oath to better your community and its inhabitants. Sometimes, you are required to put your own beliefs aside to do what is best overall. This is particularly true regarding design – something that is particularly subjective in nature.
- AESTHETICS: As an architect, who do you design for? Must you listen to the needs of the client, the community, or of future generations? If you believe you work exclusively for your client, you must be mindful when accepting projects, always ensuring that your personal values align.
- CONTEXT: What are the values of those who create the laws? Who makes zoning laws and what are their motivators? When an architect’s design violates the context of a community (i.e., large apartment complex in a traditionally residential neighborhood), they are still working within the constraints of the law. Do architects need to be more involved in this aspect of local government?
- AUTHORSHIP: When using architectural precedents or researching local projects to match the language and context of a neighborhood, how far is too far? Who decides the authorship of ideas pertaining to design? Should ideas be traded through consultancy?