Critical Making

Paper:  Critical Making: Exploring the Use of Making as a Generative Tool


Abstract:  An engagement with the senses is essential to the creation of closeness and intimacy between people and their environment. It follows then that the development of this way of thinking about the built environment should be prominently addressed in the training of future architects. If an architect has the opportunity – or responsibility – to encourage haptic engagement between people and space, then that process would benefit from the introduction of a multi-sensory experience during the design process itself.

Critical thinking, or the reflective practice of reasoning, is frequently employed in the university classroom to assist students in solving problems. However, within the design professions, amongst others that have a close relationship with the manipulation of matter, there is another construct to utilize in the process of problem solving: critical making. Critical making is positioned at the intersection of the ‘scholarly’ work of thinking and the material work of making; it serves as a catalyst for design, embedded in a process of craft, material, and exploration.

This paper outlines the pedagogical basis for the use of critical making in the educating of novice architecture students and demonstrates its applicability in the architectural design studio. Through this reflective process, students are presented the opportunity to gain insight into both their work and the materials of design and construction.