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Covenant varsity don traces roles mind plays in architectural design process

By Emmanuel Edukugho

The theory of Mind-Body Dualism in architectural creative design process has been further investigated at Covenant University, Ota, spanning the fields of Mathematics, Architecture, Medicine, Logic, Physics, Philosophy and Psychology.

Architecture was said to have started 40,000 years ago when man came out of the cave. Inhotep, an Egyptian, n 2800 BC, laid the foundation of modern day architecture when he introduced analogy, astracon, scale and partial externalisation of design process from the mind. However, graphical drafting is the limit of externalisation of what happens in the mind.

In the synopsis of the 32nd public lecture titled – Ärchitectural Exploration of the Theory and Realities of Mind-Body Dualism,” delivered by Professor Olajide Solanke,

Deputy Dean, School of Environmental Sciences, Head Department of Architecture, College of Science and Technology, Covenant University, he gave a brief history of how architecture developed into a profession from its inception which is essential to the comprehension of the roles the mind plays during architectural design process.

He started by saying: “Architecture is at cross-road after a long ‘trek’. The long trek is a metaphoric reference to ages of architectural practice. In spite of 4810 years of its existence, architecture had no appellation until 550 years ago when the Greek’s Arch-Tekton metamorphosed into the word architecture. The Greek Renaissance actually gave architecture its name.”

According to him, the way architects practised architecture between A.D 1550 and 1900 led to frustration among architects and this attracted pessimism among them.

“Geoffrey Broadbent in 1973 eventually predicted extinction for architecture. This is parly because of usurpation of the architect’s professional functions. Broadbent liked design process with the mind and its obscurity but he did not investigate the mind as Descartes did in A.D. 1637 when he came up with the theory of Mind-Body Dualism.”

It was further stated that apart from analogical approach to design, there are iconic, pragmatic and canonic design approaches.

“It is the analogical approach that has been widely celebrated on Canaanland where the object of analogy is the ‘Praying Hand This object of analogy is generously splashed on Canaanland gate and the Faith Tabernacle. It is on the youth chapel that the praying hands clearly metamorphosed into an element of Euclidean geometry – the triangle on the elevation of Greek Pantheon. The story of analogical approach on Canaanland is concluded on the elevation of University chapel,” explained Solanke, who himself contributed his expertise in the stunning architectural masterpieces that rule the landscape of Covenant University, Canaanland, Ota, Ogun State, Nigeria.

He submitted that in recent times, frustration, confusion, stresses and outright psychological uncertainty have crept into the scope and pre-eminence of architecture.

“Today, there are many indirect questions that bother the minds of all practitioners of architecture. These questions might have been based on apparent reasons known to these professionals. The reasons tend to silently confirm the fear of extinction of architecture as predicted by renowned architects and currently being speculated by non-architects.”

The reasons were listed as: Reluctance of clients to pay full professional fees; unprofessional load shedding by architects; age-long design method intolerance of current computer technology; client impatience of long design time; design information becoming too complex for the mind; since 1824 Joseph Aspadins discovery of concrete, no new major building material has been developed; and silent usurpation of the functions of architects.

While recollecting that man came out of the cave about 40,000 years ago, hence the provision of shelter was exclusively in the mind. At that time, neither the profession nor the professional had any specific terminology.

“Suffice it to classify the period into two phases of Form Generation and Concept Documentation. There was no record of official documentation of the New Forms Generation during the early period. The point being made is that at the period of shelter provision, it is acknowledged that (a) Building forms were generated purely in the mind;

(b) There as no instrument of any kind to document what was in the mind;

(c) There was no document of any kind for buildings.

The Deputy Dean and also Head, Department of Architecture, affirmed that up till today, the mind still dominates the building planning process. Form Generation starts and ends with the mind.

“However, planning process within the mind metamorphosed into building plan when Inhotep in 2800 BC introduced the use of  Estrakon to document for the first time his conception of the pyramid at Saqqara. Since then, the documentation processes have matured with various reproduction technologies, starting with Tables, T-squares, set-squares, tracing papers, pencils, tracing pens and ink.”

He added that with further advances in technology, documentations have also matured.

“Computer softwares such as Auto-CAD, 3-D, Rivit, etc have had tremendous impact on the drafting aspect of the design work. In spite of the available softwares, the value-judgement of the mind still retains its controlling power on the design output. It is clear that there are drafting softwares but they are not building design softwares.”

He argued that the design process remains exclusively in the mind, and the mystery of the mind’s obscurity is that it still blacks out the design process to any other person but the designer.

“At a point and up till now, the mind has rendered modern technology impotent as it has failed to externalise design operations with it. Attempts have been made to investigate the mind through Descartes theory of mind-body dualism with the intention of externalising the mind’s design operations. But externalization of the mind’s operations cannot be attained without full comprehension of the mind’s obscurity and traditional design approaches normally employed by the designers.”

Dwelling on the philosophy of the Mind, he stated that despite the fact that there had been no introspective access into what happens in the mind, ages of investigative efforts had been expended in unlocking its gates of mystery.

“The most relevant efforts to the field of architecture are the attempts made by the ancient philosophers who were the rationalists or metaphysicians of the great 17th century – Descartes, Spinosa, Leibniz,. They believed that the general nature of the world, including the mind, could be established wholly by non-empirical demonstrative reasoning.”

Philosophy of the mind was defined as the intellectural investigation of the minds and their states cum the knowledge of them.

“One can only infer what is in the mind of others fropm the perceptible manifestation of their action in form of their speeches, bahaviour, writings, paintints, drawings, and/or body gestures. This is why the philosophy of the mind starts traditionally with the concept of Dualism.”

According to Solanke, it has been discovered in Covenant University that we are at the threshold of fulfilling Isaiah’s prophecy of longevity (Isaiah 65:20).


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