Architecture has long been considered an art and a science, although architects – in effort to raise design’s respectability higher than that of the “cappuccino crowd” – relentlessly try to clear the blurred lines between them. The pragmatism of engineering reveals its dominantly systematic approach that separates it from architecture, a more creative design collaboration placing emphasis on aesthetic principles equal to those of functional principles. The separation between architecture and art, however, is found in intention; architectural design requires objective decision making while art may not. Theory in architecture exists and has existed for one main reason: to enhance the built environment through various ideas and principles relative to the theory. Consequently, intention is the basis for theory; a goal or objective is to be sought (intended) by means of the theory. Moreover, to deny theory totally in architecture and prescribe it only for historical references, (as Dr. Speaks suggests) in turn welcomes an anarchic attitude to the design process – which pushes design closer to art. Thus, not to incorporate theory into design is to slip irresponsibly into “random creation” and hope for serendipity – the occurrence of serendipity is not a bad thing, but not to be relied on. Therefore, theory is necessary for design to be successful, and at the very least, for design decisions to be justified.
A theory does not need to be as specific as a set of rules. The ideas of deconstruction based on Jacques Derrida’s thoughts mentioned in Speaks’s essay are very broad, and sometimes confusing – Derrida described deconstruction as neither analytic nor critical; a term that lacks a definition. Theory is speculative, based on phenomena. Deconstruction or anti-capitalistic, the theory is a means to which a utopian architecture is the end; an end most realize to be impossible because of socio-cultural changes over time that in turn help shape theoretical generation. It is this binding to society and culture that makes theory necessary to the built environment. To separate architecture from culture and society – to claim that theory is irrelevant – would be absurd; theory is the foundation on which responsible design decisions are made.