Provisional beliefs: the shared peculiarities

of architectural teaching and practice

Kester Rattenbury

Professor of Architecture, University of Westminster

Architects work through what has been called ‘enabling fictions’. They do not actually build buildings (usually); they design them by developing imaginary buildings, in huge detail, first. They do this through making drawings and other representations, and by assembling these representations into what is called a ‘project’, a coherent imagined building – or possibly a strategy, narrative or sci-fi adventure; all can be used to teach, discuss, and indeed design, architecture. While much has been written about the cultural theory of this process, the actual methods used in practice are more rarely described, and only recently the subject of much academic attention. Professor Kester Rattenbury introduces the peculiar practices of ‘projects’ and ‘crits', their constant looping of vision, representation, interpretation, assembly, criticism and testing. She discusses how these practices emerge through a shared culture of collective ‘willing suspension of disbelief’, to construct and interrogate provisional models of the future.