Faith in Discussion: A Centre for Empiricism
A multi-use building placing an adaptable large-scale space for discussion, debate, and reflection beneath a set of artist’s studios to provide a societal outlet for shared ideas and beliefs.
During the Scottish Enlightenment, the great minds in all fields of science and the humanities began to converse with one another on an intellectual level, shining a light on beliefs historically thought to be fact. ‘At its heart was the desire to investigate and debate philosophical and scientific ideas publicly, free from the persecution of authoritarian institutions.’ Equally, the enlightenment brought new meaning to the arts, with shared ideas becoming the inspiration for pieces of fine art, literature, and music, which were disseminated back into the public realm to spark further debate. The effect of this was a zeitgeist defined by holistic logic and one that brought unity and success to Edinburgh, making it the intellectual capital of Europe for some time.
Although today academic institutions are separate from the church, such interdisciplinary discourse is rare, with a lack of encouragement for debate creating social tension and division. In a time of perpetual political unease, a space that restores the ‘faith in discussion’ previously held by enlightenment thinkers could help to mediate between divided groups by reinstating a societal consciousness in the city.