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interview ISSN 2175-6708


O francês Antoine Picon, professor da Harvard Graduate School of Design e teórico preocupado com as múltiplas relações entre a arquitetura e a tecnologia digital, é entrevistado pela dupla de professores brasileiros Gabriela Celani e David Sperling.

Antoine Picon, a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and a theorist who is concerned with the multiple relationships between architecture and digital technology, is interviewed by the Brazilian duo Gabriela Celani and David Sperling.

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CELANI, Gabriela; SPERLING, David. Architecture makes life meaningful. Interview with Antoine Picon. Entrevista, São Paulo, year 19, n. 074.02, Vitruvius, jun. 2018 <>.

Antoine Picon
Foto divulgação

Antoine Picon can be considered as one of the few contemporary theorists who has been assuming the task of inscribing digital architecture in the historiography of architecture, critically pointing out the singularities of its ontological condition, without detaching it from a historical and cultural ballast. His background in engineering and architecture, and a doctorate in history, gives to his work a clear seat in the reflection on techniques and their aesthetic unfoldings, as well as in philosophical considerations about intersections of architecture with science and technology.

With a vast published work that includes books and articles, Picon has been writing regularly on these themes since 1998. In 2003, with Architecture and the sciences: exchanging metaphors, he turned his interest towards the historiography and criticism of contemporary architecture, given the potentialities and the dilemmas presented by digital technologies. Titles such as Digital Culture in Architecture: An Introduction for the Design Profession (2010), Ornament: The Politics of Architecture and Subjectivity (2013) and his most recent book, mentioned in this interview by the author, La materialité de l'architecture (2018), frame his critical essays in a context largely marked by pragmatism and positivity in regards to digital processes.

In this interview, organized in six parts, Picon recovers aspects that are inherent to architecture as a discipline, and have been reconfigured by the digital. In “Architecture and Computers: Between Concrete and Abstract”, the project is affirmed as a strategy, in which the creation of scenarios operates through alterities. Picon argues that the project is increasingly positioned as a link between experimentation with materials and computational “being”, pointing to information-based models (BIM) and parametric models as distinct realities that present themselves for architecture in the future.

In “Statutes in Transformation”, the author argues that the profession itself is facing profound changes, due to the transformations that design, forms and manufacturing are currently facing. In this context, the logics that govern the architects' star system, and the imperative of being a recognized architect or perishing, are confronted by different forms of cooperation that allow digital systems, as well as by a renewed interest in politics and justice by the students.

In the “Architecture and innovation” section, challenges of architectural education in a changing world, the need for innovation and a certain condition of the architect as an entrepreneur, as well as the limitations of the research carried out by architecture offices are discussed. As a historian, Picon ends up defending history and culture not as prescriptions but as instruments for thinking about contemporary problems and changes.

In “Architecture, meaning and the production of commons” the author emphasizes the importance of the retrieval of ornament by digital architecture and the reconnection it promotes with subjectivities and meanings. It advocates a realism, assuming that architecture is rarely democratic and emancipatory because it is linked to systems of power. The role of architecture would be then to create environments “meaningful to human life”.

In the last two parts, Picon talks about his impressions about architecture in Brazil and Latin America, closing the interview with a comment about his recently published book about materiality in architecture, again in the context of the digital condition.

Detail of the cover of "Ornament: The Politics of Architecture and Subjectivity", by Antoine Picon
Foto divulgação


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original: português

outros: english




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