Post #3: EDGZ – Exoteric
Eric Tse
September 26, 2020

Interspersed with travel posts will be posts ruminating on architectural praxis and elaborating on the principles of the EDGZ paradigm. Each principle has a defining character, encompassing the methodological, aesthetic, conceptual, and experiential.

The first principle, 'Exoteric', is important in establishing the methodological foundations for the practice. The word describes external knowledge, or that which can be ascertained by anyone, even though in some cases it may be difficult to do so. This is in opposition to 'esoteric', which is internal, or known to very few. This translates to being open and transparent, not least of all with our clients to create trust and lasting partnerships. The principle pre-situates the work in the practice‘s methodology, while also founding the drive to explore rules-based computational workflows like parametrics and generative design.

In practice, I have adopted the essence of this term as a principle to be open and transparent with regard to paradigm and intent, for both design and business. This is not to wax poetic, for there are myriad accomplished designers out there with similar ideas, but I want to upfront and clear about where the practice is coming from theoretically, to proactively lay out the framework for future discussions.

The principle translates to being open and transparent in all aspects of the practice, not least of all with our clients to create trust and lasting partnerships. We endeavour to meet them where they are and guide them on a journey of exploration into realms unknown, eventually leading to that promised land of dreams fulfilled and expectations exceeded. For it is our fundamental professional duty to execute the project with utmost rigour in design and detailing, while also bringing the art to architecture, in other words, exercising our craft to envision something new and unexpected that delights the senses. The ideal is that each project becomes a melding of minds, where clients' desires and architect's praxis weave together to create a new vision of the built environment.

The exoteric principle also ties in with another methodological interest – computational workflows like parametric design. In this way of working, one explicitly sets out the parameters that delineate the space of possible solutions for a design issue and defines the metrics by which successful solutions are evaluated. The structure of the digital tools employed (e.g. Grasshopper, Dynamo, Catia, Rhinoscript, etc.) forces the user to make deliberate and conscious decisions about the importance of specific elements and their relationships to each other. In the end, a form or space may manifest that looks unconventional or indecipherable, but if you spend the time and trace the steps back you may come to understand the design intent and process, and thereby appreciate it more fully.

It is the making explicit part that defines the exoteric character of parametrics. In contrast, whereas a more intuitive design process may similarly explore the space of possible solutions and result in a successful outcome, that process happens inside the designer's head in an esoteric fashion. This is not to say that it must always remain that way, for the designer could choose to diagram or explain the process. However, by virtue of its methodological structure, parametrics results in an exoteric process and thus opens itself to transparent discussions.
More Blog Posts