Global architects: learning and innovation through communities and constellations of practice
It is surprising that, despite widespread interest in the cultural industries, few questions have been asked about the geographies of learning and innovation in architecture. Particularly relevant to global architects are debates about the way stretched relational spaces and ‘global’ communities of practice connect individuals, firms, and regions into networks of learning that ‘perforate’ scales. This paper seeks to apply such debates to the case of global architects and to examine the spatiality of the practices that allow learning and lead to innovation in their work. It is shown that global architects participate in ‘local’ communities of practice that rely on face-to-face interaction, talk, and ‘buzz’. These ‘local’ communities are also part of ‘global’ constellations of practice constructed by forms of circulation: in particular, travel by architects and the circulation of texts and images in the media, which facilitate learning through human – nonhuman interactions. It is, therefore, suggested that in order to more effectively analyse the geographies of learning and innovation—in architecture but also other industries—focus needs to fall on (1) the geography of talk/buzz and communities of practice; but also (2) the geography of human – nonhuman interactions that form constellations of practice. Such a focus reveals that apparently local communities of practice are more often than not connected into global spaces of learning and innovation through constellations of practice produced by nonhumans.
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