This thesis is an enquiry by creative practice into the academic and aesthetic
(avant-garde) practice of architecture. It explores the notion of the virtual as
pure potentiality following an event, and defines architecture as the site of such
potentiality. (Alain Badiou names event as the moment /encounter which initiates
a radical break from a given situation /state of affairs. There are four types of
event: artistic, political, scientific and amorous).
The thesis follows two parallel strands of enquiry. One, into the material
production of the architectural object and topological space, this is titled the
actual; and the other, an investigation into the philosophical and antagonistic
nature of the virtual, this is titled the virtual. The actual deals with the literature
review, methodology, context of study and proposal for (the site of) actual
engagement with theory, including a design element (House of the Chinese
Mantis); while the virtual explores (through a series of five international and
interdisciplinary conference papers) the philosophical problems of emergence.
The 'context of study' in the actual centres around the move from the fetish of
commodities to seduction and concludes with eroticism, while the body of work
in the virtual concentrates on the notions of sovereignty, becoming, and concrete
Following the technological practices of the avant-garde between hypersurface
theory and catalytic formations in architecture, the thesis rejects the claims of
virtual space as the digital space of computer -based design, and of emergence as
mimetic and /or algorithm based design. It argues that the virtual is the
intangible space of creative unfolding following Bergson and Deleuze, but
resists the claim in Deleuze that event is a chance occurring. Also, it resists the
claim in Baudrillard that seduction and /or enchanted simulation are event and
abandons them to focus on the amorous (one of the four events in Badiou). This
creates an inflection in the enquiry, moving the thesis towards Plato and the
Renaissance, and a contemporary resurrection in architecture, of the tragic, as
concrete manifestation of the amorous encounter.
The method of inquiry is structured after the nomadic logic of the War Machine
in the philosophy of Deleuze and Guattari, and of the revolutionary nature of
fidelity to the scientific event in Badiou, which argues that new knowledge is
created by 'revolutions' and from the anomalies and collaborations which arise
as a result of such 'detours'; it is a strategy justified by the science historians
Feyerabend, Kuhn and Lakatos.
The thesis takes the form of two books (the actual and the virtual), and concludes
that the avant-garde practice of architecture, with its infinite potentialities is
distinct from the bureaucratic or State apparatus of building, and that the
commonplace appropriation of the avant-garde by the State, as seen in the
institutional recourse to parametrics, appears unproductive and uncreative with
regard to knowledge.