Theory and Criticism
Architectural Criticism Vs. Post Occupancy Evaluation
The tradition of Architectural Criticism has
contributed for years to superficial
reactions of highly subjective judgments
about the quality of the built environment.

Some argue that criticism has very little value
for students and professional architects, since
it fails to explain the reasons behind those
subjective judgments. Reversibly, Post Occupancy
Evaluation (POE) of built environments is
intended to provide reliable and valid
information about the physical world. It is also
intended to provide information to improve the
quality of design decision making and to predict
the quality of future built environments.

The results of POE studies are directed to those
who design, manage, and make decisions about the
built environment, while those of criticism are
only directed to the academic community.

Should we teach our budding professionals
Architectural Criticism or should we train them
to conduct POE investigations?
Ashraf Salama
Architectural Criticism Vs. Post Occupancy Evaluation
Ashraf, I don't believe one is better than the other. The important thing is not to stress architecture criticism, rather to stress a critical approach to thinking. In order to be good designers we must be able to think critically, to compose our design decisions within a framework we can justify. Architects absorb their environments and borrow freely from other disciplines; to make decisions about what is valid in this process of absorbtion a critical dimension is necessary. Students must also be critical when it comes to their readings, their studios, and their professors. The days of master and apprentice are over, the studio should be a place for exchange rather than tutorials. I think offering architectural criticism and theory fine tunes the thought process to give subjective as well as analytical views. And to be subjective, as you know, is a large step in the process of decision making. Many times in studio reviews I cringe when I hear the words "sort of", "maybe" or "kind of" these phrases shift responsibility and can never be pinned down. So to even offer a subjective opinion is still a part of the thought process, which is better than shifting the responsibility for ones design decisions. As for POE investigations, I think these could be very useful. Perhaps a system of criticism of a proposed project and then revisiting the project after it has been occupied and used is the best method.
Shiraz Allibhai
Architectural Criticism Vs. Post Occupancy Evaluation
I believe that architectural critisism is far from being objective. The way we see, think,analyze, criticise or judje is tarnished with our cultural background. Unconciously, we carry our heritage, expectations, likes and dislikes arround and it taints our judgement whih always tend to be subjective. Thus I believe that criticism is not what architectual eduation should be about. Rather,if we want to train architects with social responsiblity and create architeture for people then P.O.E. is the answer, since it relies on the user as the judge. Architectural critiism might be the domain of intellectual disussions for the academia together with nostalgia, or poetry.
Youhansen Eid
Architectural Criticism Vs. Post Occupancy Evaluation
I think architectural criticism is not only to evaluate the function of buildings. This is why it is different from POE (which consider the evaluation of users). It is educational tool and can be employed to shape the image and prefernces of those who interact with architecture (people). It is for educating clients to ask for good architecture. If we limit criticism in the acadamic field, we are loosing the chance to make architecture as public knowlede.
Mashary Al-Naim
Architectural Criticism Vs. Post Occupancy Evaluation
hi Ashraf,
Architectural criticism Vs POE ia wrong based premise for discussion cos both held specefic domain of use and utility. Architecture competions can't be valued or judjed on POE criteria for it only brings forth a concept not a building in use to be evalueted. POE, on the other hand tackles problems of makind feedback of building inuse and henceforth help enhance the quality of design for future. In more philisophical terms the antagonisme you are trying to pinpoint is, to my opinion not valid, cos there is none; more over they both architectural criticism and POE are complementary tools to help ease architectural traumas.
Salah Eddine El Ayoubi Krada


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