The Persona of the Entomologist in Architectural Education

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Atelier Bow-Wow’s book “Echo of Space/Space of Echo” (2009) contains a chapter titled “Insect-Hunting.” The four-page section begins with recollections of a childhood pastime—researching, hunting, collecting, and cataloguing insects—and extends into a theoretical positioning of Momoyo Kaijima and Yoshiharu Tsukamoto’s architectural, pedagogical, and publishing practices. It describes an approach related to Jakob von Uexküll and Georg Kriszat’s treatment of “Umwelt” and building on Bernard Rudofsky’s framing of vernacular environments in “Architecture without Architects” (1966). “Insect-Hunting” raises a question: what can entomological approaches bring to architectural design education? This article is composed of four sections. The first section briefly positions the field of entomology and establishes the figure of the entomologist that will subsequently be built upon. The second section interrogates the figure of the entomologist by reflecting on two fictional insect collectors, Junpei Niki and Frederick Clegg, extracting common traits. The third section performs an analysis of the work of Atelier Bow-Wow in relation to the practice of an entomologist: it elaborates Kaijima and Tsukamoto’s analogy between insects and buildings and posits a set of qualities that result from this association. The fourth and final section considers work produced in a studio conducted at the University of Tasmania in 2017 that appropriated entomology and the entomologist to investigate terrace houses in Launceston, Australia. Using Robert Somol and Sarah Whiting’s “cool” architectural concept, it positions the channelling of this persona within architectural methodology.