Advocating an ambivalent approach to theorizing the built environment

Cairns, G 2008, 'Advocating an ambivalent approach to theorizing the built environment', Building research and information, vol. 36, no. 3, pp. 280-289.


Document type: Journal Article
Collection: Journal Articles

Title Advocating an ambivalent approach to theorizing the built environment
Author(s) Cairns, G
Year 2008
Journal name Building research and information
Volume number 36
Issue number 3
Start page 280
End page 289
Total pages 10
Publisher Routledge
Abstract This paper outlines the breadth of approaches to conceptualization of the built environment that exist across a range of literature sets, including construction management, architectural design and organization theory. It considers the commensurability, or otherwise, of different theoretical perspectives based upon their grounding in different ontological and epistemological stances. It also considers the basis of models derived of empirical engagement with practice. In contemplating the relationship between theory and practice throughout the life cycle of the built environment, along with the range of involved stakeholders; and illustrated by reference to the example of the contemporary 'workplace'; an ambivalent approach to theorizing at the local level of involved actors is proposed. In this approach, conceptualization of the built environment is based not upon early exclusive either/or choices between different theories and models, but rather upon inclusive both/and considerations. However, this does not mean that all are considered as equally valid in the outcomes of decision-making, and the role of power and politics is acknowledged within the process of negotiation of a 'good' outcome. The potential, and the limitations, of this ambivalent approach are informed by a contemporary social science interpretation of the concept of phronesis, or practical wisdom, which has roots in Aristotelian philosophy.
Subject Architecture not elsewhere classified
DOI - identifier 10.1080/09613210801928164
ISSN 0961-3218
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