(Un)common Precedents


“Cosmopoiesis as an act of worldmaking always starts from worlds already in existence and the making is a remaking.”

― Marco Frascari referencing Nelson Goodman in his Eleven Exercises

Each medium through which a physical place is presented to us and through which we document it has an impact on the knowledge we retain about that place. These acts of reading, interpreting, investigating, documenting, and recording inevitably influence the kinds of places and buildings that form our frame of reference – and, consequently, the buildings we design and how we design them. However, one can argue that the presence of architectural precedents in pedagogy and practice are too often limited to surface level abstractions – disembodied ideas and flattened visual representations are lifted from their context and re-formed as new designs.


How do architects build a frame of reference?

In architecture, what does the current approach to precedent study leave out? How might methodologies be reimagined to embrace a more holistic understanding of existing buildings? Further, is there potential in seeking architectural precedents in adjacent disciplines such as literature, mathematics, music, food, and in the visual and performing arts? What mediums present underexplored potential in the development of an embodied, multisensory frame of reference?


This symposium aims to explore (un)common precedents, provoking inquiry into what one studies (the precedent itself), how one studies (the media and methods of investigation), and why one studies (the intentions and impact of study on the design process).