In Poland with architecture is a bit like with sex. If someone dares to discuss it, they often run out of words and concepts. And without precise definitions, there is no decent debate. So it's a good thing that Archipedia, an online platform of knowledge about architecture and space, has been created. It is worth reviewing, although it still needs additions and improvements.
Slowly, but surely, there is a growing awareness in Poland that architecture can and should be discussed , contrary to the adage repeated ad nauseam for years about tastes not being subject to discussion. A publicly available architectural dictionary or lexicon is therefore a necessity. This is what Archipedia, which was created and is being developed by the National Institute of Architecture and Urban Planning as part of the Architecture for Education (ADE) platform, aims to become.
To whom, why, how much?
Celebrating its five-year anniversary, NIAiU has been promoting the encyclopedic platform on social media since last week. Since the project, which has been running for more than a year, has lived to see publicity, a closer look is in order. What will we find in Archipedia, what is not yet in it, and for whom is it intended? The authors of the platform inform that
Archipedia will help you organize your knowledge at the interface of architecture, culture and the environment. It is divided into four main sections: Architecture, Space, Baukultur/Archikultur and Environment. They show the complex relationship between human-organized spaces and the environment.
Archipedia on the ADE platform - a breakdown of the categories
A portion of entries from the collection, which today numbers thirty-eight definitions and expanded descriptions accompanied by a modest number of illustrations and diagrams, has been added to each section. There is also, and this greatly simplifies things, a separate index of all the entries, so that the recipient does not have to guess to which section a particular concept has been assigned. There are also still many inactive entries in the various sections. Their compilation is in progress. The initiator of the project, Katarzyna Domagalska of NIAiU explains:
Archipedia is a rolling project. Thecontent team is currently preparing another thirty definitions. This is because our educational platform will be constantly developed and supplemented. In addition to new entries, we are also planning more illustrations.
with image and pictorially
The announcement regarding iconography is gratifying, because - so far - there are still far too few illustrations that would facilitate the understanding of concepts, and their selection - does not always seem representative of a given concept. More images are essential. First - explaining architecture seems to be of little effectiveness without precisely selected and rich iconography. Secondly, for a layman, the degree of complication of some entries published in Archipedia may be too much.
So it's time to answer the question of whose needs and capabilities Archipedia is tailored to. A description of the entire Architecture for Education platform may help a bit, as Archipedia itself lacks an indication of specific addressees. ADE is aimed at "employees of institutions, organizations and local leaders," "educators and teachers," and "parents, children and young people."
The spread is considerable, so if the authors of Archipedia want to reach all groups communicatively and substantively, they should work even more on the friendlier form of some of the definitions and descriptions. It's not even about the degree of complication, but more empathy with the reader. It is important to hit his competence, habits or stereotypes he has imbibed (such as the one mentioned above, about tastes, or - for example - about the sacred right of property).
Thus, a definition beginning with the sentence "In accordance with the Decree of the Minister of Infrastructure of April 12, 2002 on..." does not encourage reading. Sometimes it is also useful to have an explanation, for example, of why definitions are distributed among these and not other sections. This is especially true of the still hermetic concept in Poland, which in Archipedia functions as Baukultur / Archikultura. Katarzyna Domagalska explains:
We developed the division into such areas together with the team [full list of creators and editors in the illustration below - editor's note]. On the other hand, the prominence of the term Archiculture stems from the desire to promote more the compatible approach to space as a whole. We relied on the term Baukultur because it is strongly rooted in Germany and imbued with many meanings. We want our native "archiculture" to achieve the same status. Poland, by the way, is a signatory to the 2018 Davos Declaration called "Towards a high-quality Baukultur for Europe."
Archipedia on the ADE platform - editorial team
Domagalska adds that Archipedia is worth studying together with the educational materials that are available on the ADE platform. In fact, there are more and more of them there, which - together with other activities (including postgraduate courses for future educators) - can raise the level and expand the reach of teaching about architecture and space in the coming years. It would also be worthwhile, in order to make the most of the valuable substantive input, to work a bit on the attractiveness and functionality of the ADE website with an emphasis on increasing the number of illustrations and photos, the interactivity of some graphics, and - especially within Archipedia - their better integration with the text.