Enactive or symbolic representation? When the order alters the product

Cecilia Wolff, Mauricio Cárcamo


This paper reviews a pedagogic exercise related to the degree of Architecture being taught at the University of Chile. This exercise, which is based on the action of folding paper, integrates knowledge areas from the project learning in initial phases. To illustrate this, in the methodology section, the applied didactic strategy together with its theoretical sustenance are described and then followed by both a review of the activities of the project itself and the learning results. The exercise addresses the multidisciplinary features of our field in Architecture, since it encourages students to directly and intuitively solve physical, structural, geometric, aesthetic and functional issues in an integral manner, appealing and adding to their already acquired ability to do and think in an enactive manner. The outcome of this exercise gets deep into the relationship among a number of aspects which include the type of representation incidence in the projecting operation (iconic, symbolic and enactive representations) and its directions, i.e., from enactive to symbolic representation and vice versa. Furthermore, it also lays out the didactic strategies and teaching contributions of the study case. To conclude, the relevance of this practical approach concerning the relationship between form with these three types of representation is discussed, so students may apply their knowledge and experience acquired during their life in the first stages of their architectural training at university.


Architecture; symbolic; iconic; enactive representation

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