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Team talents

Words:
Maria Smith and Donna Gage

Never let it be said there is too little discipline in architecture

Multidisciplinary: People from different disciplines working together, each drawing on their disciplinary knowledge. A multidisciplinary design team aims to have as many disciplines as possible so new disciplines are created often, a phenomenon known as disciplinative easing. In a multidisciplinary practice, the goal is to have as many services as possible in the menu on your website.

Interdisciplinary: Integrating knowledge and methods from different disciplines and applying them to a common vision. An interdisciplinary design team aims to belittle the education and experience of other team members by taking an ‘it can’t be that hard’ approach to stepping on each others’ toes.

Transdisciplinary: Creating a unity of intellectual frameworks beyond the disciplinary perspectives. In a transdisciplinary design team, all individuals roam unimpeded across the field of endeavour. In a transdisciplinary practice, the goal is to smugly lord it over all the unevolved unidisciplinary practices.

Monodisciplinary: A group consisting entirely of individuals from one discipline. This can lead to the quicker buildup of pests and diseases where the uniform group is susceptible to pretentious aesthetics and fashion, and in more serious cases, hypocritical reverse snobbery. In a monodisciplinary practice the goal is to marry and procreate within one’s discipline, further strengthening the bid for ­monodisciplinary-supremacy.

Subdisciplinary: Working under the control or authority of another discipline. A subdisciplinary consultant charges a high fee to submit to the will of others, usually as a facade to veil a lack of ideas, lack of stomach for responsibility, or genuine pleasure at being put upon. Subdisiciplinarians are known to offer themselves up as a sacrificial lamb on a failing project in order to save the reputation of other parties meaning they are often the most sought-after design team member.

Semidisciplinary: A half hearted attempt at embodying the knowledge and methods of a discipline, often taken up by lazy proponents of the 80:20 principle and those that prefer to work only at the RIBA Stage C of yesteryear. In a semidisciplinary practice, buzzwords, bravado, and Gantt charts replace insight and integrity. In a semidisciplinary design team meeting, ping pong tables and the latest apps act as decoys for a gaping knowledge vacuum.  

Microdisciplinary: Focussed on a small area within a given discipline. Microdisciplinarians are so obsessed with their specific area of study that they tend to disappear into irrelevance until wheeled out by perversely curious creative types with delusions of crossdisciplinarity. Despite the microdisciplinarian’s irrelevance, these practitioners often go on to win multiple awards, albeit in obscure categories and most often by default.

Homodisciplinary: A clone of another discipline created to command the same fees with fewer skills and a lower limit of indemnity on their PI insurance. Many homodisciplinarians have dabbled in monodisciplinarity, but finding no pleasure in cutting themselves off from society, leave the group to practise the same discipline under a less onerous guise.

In a semidisciplinary design team meeting, ping pong tables and the latest apps act as decoys for a gaping knowledge vacuum

Misdisciplinary: Working with the know­ledge and methods of another discipline but with wholehearted, often wilful, errors and so dire results. The misdisciplinary design team aims to avoid allegations of gross misconduct, usually by putting the blame on a subdisciplinary subconsultant, or taking up teaching.

Undisciplinary: Involving no subjects or areas of study.

Hypnodisciplinary: Practising while asleep, either in dreams or, more dangerously and frequently, when in a lethargic stupor. Hypnodisciplinary design teams are often made up of design students and insomniacs. Hypnodisciplinarians have been known for the occasional stroke of creative genius, usually during a period of blood caffeine optimisation or one hour before a looming deadline.

Amphidisciplinary: Taking on the knowledge and methods of two seemingly opposing disciplines. In an amphidisciplinary design team the goal is to please everyone all the time which is especially useful when working with conflicting stakeholders. Not surprisingly, amphidisciplinarians’ projects always go to Design and Build contractors and the amphidisciplinarians are never novated.

Redisciplinary: Descent into a spiral of self-referential, self-reinforcing madness: ‘anything you can do, I can do meta’.

Hyperdisciplinary: Taking extraordinary offence at needing to interface with other disciplines. In a design team meeting, hyperdisciplinarians can be found passive-aggressively pouring tea and avoiding eye-contact.

Circumdisciplinary: Skirting around the practices of another discipline without getting one’s hands dirty. The most successful circumdisciplinarians have a political background, bringing a talent for evading the important questions. In a circumdisciplinary design team meeting, the aim is to engage in conversations based deliberately on whatever is most meaningless to the end goal.

Domdisciplinary: Exerting power and influence over other disciplines. Rather than have the best interests of the team at heart, domdisciplinarians have been known to throw other team members under the bus and incite public humiliation. Due to this, hybrid dom/subdisciplinary design teams often make the most successful collaborations.

Pandisciplinary: Assuming god-like over­­-sight over all other disciplines: Architect. 


Maria Smith is a director at Interrobang architecture and engineering and Webb Yates Engineers. Donna Gage is a writer, proud hypnodisciplinarian, and practice manager at Interrobang and Webb Yates Engineers

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