Message - "The Real"

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Posted by  Matthew Stadler on September 10, 2002 at 12:54:39:

I notice that a category of information called "the real" is often used as a rhetorical tool of persuasion by architects trying to win support for their design proposals. "The real" is often presented in the form of graphical designs, purportedly shaped by data gathered by a research team. Sometimes architects claim that these shapes also dictate building design, thus implying a kind of objective chain of necessity between the pressures of "the real" and the architect's preferred design. This is especially evident in the work of OMA, but also elsewhere.

I wonder what practicing architects can tell me about thismethod. Does it have a long history? Is there an etymology of "the real" that informs its use today? Do practicing architects find themselves preoccupied with the design of data and its graphical representations? Does this kind of work make a good fit with their work designing buildings?

The subject interest me greatly and I would appreciate both replies and suggestions of further reading I might profitably pursue.

Matthew Stadler

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