INTRO The future of the profession of architecture One of the most intriguing things about architecture as a profession is that architects hardly ever agree on what it is, architecture, where it came from and which of its parameters will matter in the future. The approaches, ambitions and aims within each generation differ to such an extent that they can be called contrary. Each new generation of architects tries to reinvent it, extend its boundaries, resettle it in the context and on the ashes of the past. This yields a rich and stimulating discussion about architecture. This likewise displays the boundaries and infinite potential within the profession and this is probably the main driving force for the enthusiasm that we all share. Some call the epoch we live in a era of ‚globalisation‘, some call it the ‚age of information‘, some call it a time of ‚crisis‘. Either way its potential - both negative and positive - is game-changing. We are confronted with conditions that did not exist a decade ago. In our schools, often enough we are trained for conditions of the last millenium. We are learning within structures of previous generations that have not had to address the massive changes we are faced with now. We are at the point of re-evaluating what we have learned in the face of what we see - beyond the faculty building. On the other hand, architecture still revolves around the dimensions and behavioral patterns of the human body, which have not changed significantly since the first human dwelling. Our eyes and ears are still capable of percieving the same wavelength of light and sound. For many people (e.g. Koolhaas) the Parthenon in Athens is still the ‚best‘ building on earth and the production of brilliant architecture does not seem to match the speedy progression of technology or the development of ‚civilisation‘. What are the defining parameters of ‚good‘ architecture and how much does it depend on a cultural or historic context? Terms like ‚architect of 9/11‘, ‚chip architecture‘, the ‚architect of the presidential campaign‘ are in daily use. In the naming of the organisation of complex events or constructs, nothing seems to fit better than architecture‘. Are all these people architects or is architecture on the contrary rather a abstract notion of building, creation and organisation, and just in certain cases about building ‚buildings‘? Are architects able to do more than houses? What are their actual core abilities? discovering problems and potentials? Reinterprete, create and propose what has not been before? What then becomes the realm of the architect? We come from all over europe, we do not share a common history but we do share a notion of 'architecture' and its future. This variety of backgrounds will serve as fuel for the discussions, which will result in proactive manifestos during the workshop which will be held at the university of Liechtenstein. Date: 22OCT09 Start: 930 All students of easa and all students of the Hochschule are invited to the workshop.
There is a man in a room. It is a small room, unfurnished, save a What’s wrong with strip lighting? Architects do small table with a notebook and not question enough. Too often, proposals and a selection of small books on the ‘pushing’ of the possibilities of what architects the floor. There are two polar- could do, never makes it off the page. oids on the wall. There is a man at the table. The man is sweat- But there will be point when things change. ing. The man is not an architect. They have to. Cities are an emblem for Present day architects - by architects I refer to having been educated at a school and be interested in the creation of or in Built Space - can be split into two non-mutually exclusive groups: The Architect as politician/lobbyist with an interest in design The Architect as [social] libertarian with means to design but no means to build To a greater or lesser extent, these groupings can be read as established practices and those who are not. Although, if every architect were asked, not many would claim to be in the first. Ultimately, the goal for both is column inches - or today’s incarnation: blog [re]posts. Media attention has always been the goal of architects (all architects are egotistical megalomaniacs). In our information-driven, high-speed, web 2.0 world, everyone reads, consumes, regurgitates, and appropriates it on their blog. Everyone can be the media now. An ‘interest’ in design qualifies one an architecture critic. Archi-spiel; repeated, tweaked, plagiarised. The same stories appear for a week on your RSS reader of choice. Your twitter stream, awash with link-backs for days. Each post with less and less information. The press release digested by idle minds. To garner such attention has become somewhat easy. A plethora of ‘online design magazine’s’ need content. Architects respond with shiny renders. Bank buildings and sustainable desert cities and the next skyscraper for DubaiAbudabi, winner of this and that competition. All better or worse copies of something that has gone before. The current trend for prismatic design works. Its ‘edgy’ and ‘contemporary’ and looks exciting. But more than anything it is ‘safe’. And things more than ever nowadays have to be safe because of compromise. Compromise is brought on by men is suits who work for national, regional, city and town governments . These men are businessmen. They have yearly budgets and they decide that: No. The facade you propose that would allow the entire building to be lit naturally is too expensive.
change. Our environment, through the pressures we have placed upon it for the last centuries will buckle and break. Our reality will shift. We will have only read about it. In the augmented realities of Burroughs, Ballard and DInari, where broken worlds provide backgrounds for architectures to grow and synthesise with these new environments. This is the architecture of the Doom generation. The technologies used to generate form, space, and structural strategies are open source, shared amongst peers, adapted by the individual to meet needs. Additions to existing buildings are not grafted, joined, but programmed to grow, morph, transfigures to adapt to its users. The architect has expanded its skill set. It creates the environments where humanity stores its most precious of resources. Water. Oxygen. Banked elements which are rationed, preserved, contested. The cities no longer can be the cradle of all life. Life has ceased to exist. Swathes of the metropolis have been involuntarily given over to vegetation. The plants are taking back the land they once occupied. We shape our streets to better accommodate these green oases. When we lose the streets, we seek other points for habitation. The architect looks down. New cities are built underground. Parasitic sprawl occupies the underground transit systems of generations past. Infrastructure that has laid quiet for generations is reused, abused. Becomes useful again. The architect looks up. Communities are transposed into the sky. They live, work, procreates upon machines that hang in the air. The jet stream as unending source of energy and sole system of movement. The neo-nomads. The architect looks around. And knows his place.
The architect does not make space, but merely defines it. Is there a future of architecture design or is there only an ever repeating past? When looking at architecture one always gets the impression “I’ve seen something similar before”, well that’s because you probably have, one of the great things about architecture is that depending on material, location and use you can make something new that is a completely based on another existing building. So where do we go from here? What can be defined as original or new? What new technological advancements and requirements will advance architecture to the point where it once again becomes something new and exciting? Indeed the last good example of this is the invention of the elevator and steel as a structural frame work that brought about the skyscraper revolution in Chicago. What is next, wireless electricity or hard light? Designs of the future may be composed completely of this hard light and will be easy to change according to desires time of the day and privacy, maybe you will be able to download a Corbusier application onto your iHouse© that automatically changes it to that style, Or the rich can have their own iHouse© specially designed for them. Will architects of the future be merely specialised computer programmers? Quite possible considering the amount of change that has undergone the industry in the last 20 years. Before the architect was a person of substance, someone who drew and could sketch to a high standard, now we are merely CAD monkeys who spend many hours in front of a screen, and share the same technical skills as a computer animator from a film studio. The general term architect will become defunct soon with many tasks of architecture being sectioned off into specific fields, terms like “project architect” “graphics architect”. Architecture is no longer generally studied, but now has many specific fields like urban planning, commercial architecture, interior architecture, architectural technician. While it is nice to think that we can specialise in our personal interests, it also has worrying repercussions. Will architects still meet with clients and contractors and lead the project from concept do interior finishes or will the architect merely become the designer for the project manager? In smaller offices will all jobs have to be out sourced to subcontracted companies? Will architects become obsolete when the design stage is over? Architects will become obsolete, this is already happening, architecture in Ireland is often seen as a luxury and is often bypassed by smaller clients who hire engineers to design, design their own building, worst of all pick one out of a catalogue. Why? Would you go to an accountant if your arm was broken? No you would go to a doctor. But the very fact that this happens is a testament to the perception of architecture and that everyone thinks they are an architect. This of course is not true but can be broken down to the fact that people consider architecture to be the grand expensive gesture, to the regular person architecture is the Sydney opera house, the Guggenheim Bilbao or Liebskinds Jewish museum the “icon”, not the house you live in or the street you walk down. Some of this can be attributed to the way architecture is presented, especially domestic architecture. When pictured in magazines and books architecture is always dead, an empty building devoid of people and possessions, this can be attributed to architects desire to exhibit the pure space. This result is many ordinary people concluding that architecture is only for architects. Architectures success on attracting new clients in the future relies on becoming humanising and appealing to the ordinary people who will inhabit the building. After all we are designing for people so what is wrong with showing them using the building that was designed for them.
How do people understand something they know very little about? A bear stumbled upon in the woods perhaps, a new fast food restaurant chain, or a city they have never visited, for example. Though the person may not have met this particular bear before they may have met a bear, or heard stories about people meeting bears, or about people meeting large wild animals with claws and teeth at least. If they have, then they will probably be scared and use training or teaching to act appropriately. If they aren’t trained they may well be in trouble very shortly - if they aren’t aware of the danger they probably already are. The point is a person will draw from experience or memory when facing any situation for the first time, if people didn’t humanity surely would not have lasted long a species on the face of the earth. A person could never be shown exactly what to do when it happens to them, because of the nature of terrain, their equipment, the weather will vary in all situations, as will the thoughts passing through their mind, and the impression the creature would have on them, though they can be advised on the right kind of things to do. It is a natural trait of the human mind to aggregate small pieces of information to form an opinion, an understanding for at least one point of view - of course knowing this can lead to manipulation. In terms of embedding the right behaviour when meeting a bear for the first time, we would call it teaching. When you chemistry teacher wants you to know the layout of an atom with its protons, neutrons and electrons they will use the solar system as an example and, even though later you find out this broad approximation is quite lacking, this too is teaching. It works because the human brain pieces information together by association to known or attested facts. A new chain of fast food restaurants can use this to explain what eating in their restaurant will be like. They can employ music, colour and photos of happy people to invoke an image within the observer that explains more than a simple menu ever could. This we have come to know as branding. When a person thinks of a city they haven’t visited they can’t possibly know what experience the city will provide for them. They can draw on previous experiences, their own town or city, a city they travelled too perhaps even in the same area as the one under consideration now, maybe even the same city but decades in the past - before the regeneration efforts perhaps. These experiences might not be positive though, which is problematic when attracting business to the area. But wait! Branding can help. Techniques of branding can align your little known urban conurbation with the much vaulted historic locations of the world, or urban super powers - at least in the image created in the minds of those yet to experience it. When a person lives in a city they experience it in a very personal way. Their understanding of the city will depend on their habits - the times of day and purposes they use areas of the city, the people they interact with, their interests - and whether they are catered for. Each inhabitant will have a different experience of the city. The variety of these personal experiences, though, ensures that many of the population’s views will not quite mesh with any image projected to attract investment and stimulate development, especially those tuned to align the city with the image of another. So branding can place your city in the minds of those you wish to connect with - your target market - it can make it relevant, and even attractive. But let’s say your city doesn’t actually fulfil these promises, what are the consequences? A rejection of the branding by those who know the city is one, perhaps that isn’t an issue to concern, and any way, as discussed, that was likely to happen. A rejection of the brand by investors is another, this, though, is surly a concern. The answer could be urban branding as urban planning, that is, rather than image building, you could build the image. Thus branding - the projection of image becomes a major influence on the built environment, dictating the scale and type of development - when you want to be regarded as a financial centre, you need to look like one, right? Manhattan is a financial centre, so big buildings look right, surely? Where does this leave architects? No longer designing for people, but for the attraction of money - we can see this already in private public spaces, complete with ‘no ball games’ signs and cctv cameras. The increase in tier one and two signature architects whom the flagship, brochure cover projects go to and the marginalisation of underling architects increasingly working on privately funded public building work; held to blame by the public for the poor quality of new buildings and disregard for passive users, the loss of respect for the profession by the public. Operating within narrower and narrower guidelines over what type, size, shape, colour building should go on any given plot of land..? This future is one where power is removed from architects; it is a future where the work of most architects could be done by a planning consultant, an architectural technician and an engineer. But if it happens maybe it is just. Architecture needs to realise the importance of communication, image and public opinion; status and tradition is not enough - it will not shelter them from the changing dynamics of the world. Urban branding as urban planning creates a division between the fabric of the city and its inhabitants. It is a division some architects embrace, but it will be the undoing of the profession as a profession, the end of architecture as being something more than shelter building. The growing reliance on the 2D image to sell a scheme early in the design process underlines the disregard paid to the experience of space, the disregard for users, both active and passive. Architecture and architects can embrace this option of the future, as it does now, designing though associated image building, or it can move to create new archetypes, new meanings from new imagery through invention, communication and experience. Architects can work towards connecting people to places, to buildings and to spaces. Architecture needs respect to survive; the respect of the increasingly disenfranchised public will influence both municipal authorities and capitalist concerns. Architecture is a built reality, it is the antipode of branding, it is defined and finite; image is stripped away by experience. Architecture can, by its nature, affect more potently those that interact far more than those who only see it from afar. For architecture to continue in anything more than a stunted form of its proud tradition, it must focus on its solid reality rather than the reality of image.
The future of the profession of architecture Predicting the future of architecture, at least the immediate one, can be an easy task to be addressed to. Architecture follows with delay the social scene, due to the great economical projects the construction is bound to. Given that, all one has to do, to know what an architect will have to deal with, within the next decade, is take in the society, and analyze the cultural, political, economical facts that concern it, at present. To begin, architecture is just now coming out of the ‘millenium air’ that led the past generations. That air, translated into the era of globalization, takes form in pieces of architecture of great size and cost, and products of ‘IKEA type’ brought to people’s homes. It is represented by starchitects from all over the world. There is no more room for starchitects in the times to come. The current economical crisis and the ever-growing ecological subject, lead to a whole new vision of architecture, the first signs of which have already begun to show. Austerity will appear in architecture, which leads to simplicity, in form and construction. That, in addition to the constantly increasing demand for attention from the environment, leads to an architecture that is cheap to its construction, as well as to its user. ‘Green’ is the word of the present in politics and society, and ‘green architecture’ is the architecture of the future. From an urban point of view, the phenomenon of massive gathering of people in great cities and capitals, which began with the industrial revolution, has reached the top. Cities are facing a massive abandonment that is directly connected to a general turn to nature. People, tired by the pace of life in the city, disappointed by politics and economical crisis, look for a better life near nature. Decentralization is about to take place globally, and urban planning will revolve around this pattern in the upcoming years. This turn to nature, in architecture, is directly linked to provincialism, the turn to the land, its habits, as well as its materials. Wooden architecture in the north, brick, stone, and concrete architecture in southern Europe. Materials that come from the land, therefore cheap and with no need for transportation. Buildings that integrate in their environment, projects that respect the particular characteristics of the land and its people. Architecture that springs from the land, is inspired by nature and serves people, is the vision as well as the trend of the future. Architecture has, and should always be an offer from human to human, and not a tribute to art or a personal confirmation of the architect. The pioneers deal with mathematical models and molecular forms for the production of great architecture, but the demand of people is for more simple solutions. In the years to come, given the circumstances, economical as well as cultural, architecture is to regain its man-centered character. Scale, form, cost, usage, will all be reassigned and revolve around the module of the human body, once again. Nowadays, with the immigration increasing, climatic changes leading to more and more natural disasters, poverty reaching unbelievably high levels, care for the human being is not only as far as it concerns its dimensions. Humanitarian organizations gain more supporters all over the world, day by day. The need for architecture to become part of this effort, is imperative. Economical housing for the refugees, fast and cheap projects to house people hit from war or natural disasters, architectural projects for whole towns in underdeveloped countries, to improve the life of their citizens. Social, non-profitable architecture is a whole new chapter in architecture of the present, and is going to preoccupy a lot the next generation of architects. Green simple economic human local natural social future architecture.
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The future of the calling to become an architect: «Read what was never written.»1
Head, hand, stomach or architecture as a trade
If a young architect introduces him/herself in my studio, I firstly explain to him/her what is on my mind, that is to say, the balanced interdependency of head, hand and stomach required for becoming a good architect. The head constructs, researches, is preoccupied with history and theory, asks critical questions, thus attempting to understand all that we focus on from an intellectual point of view. The hand draws, draws and draws again, not in a deadening manner, but rather along a thoughtful research-oriented curiosity. It takes pleasure in the form and the rhythm of the line whereas the stomach follows the emotions. It knows that the decision is correct, even if there is an array of valid ways in which complex issues can be answered. It seeks out the atmospheric, feels comfortable when something goes right, even something contradictory every now and then. I imagine the relationship between head, hand and stomach as a triangle and resonating chamber in the centre of which, thanks to synchronousness or equal balance, the clear and accentuated sound of our architecture emerges. Richard Sennett, who continues to cast a critical eye on the built environment, deals with the trade in his latest book and zeroes in on the urge to right something for its only sake, which is only possible if practice and theory, technique and expression or even head-hand-stomach are not separated from each other. From that perspective, the architect may be regarded as a tradesman. Sennett, in turn, quotes the sociologist, C. Wright Mills, who in the middle of the 20th century attempted already to record the nature of the artisan ethos: «Craftsmanship and technical efficiency must possess six essential features: the work does not serve any other goal than the manufacture of the product . The details of daily work remain useful, because they are wholly relate to the product of the creators work . The creator can survey, monitor and judge this work in all its parts . In this way he can learn from his work; he can discover, develop and use his abilities . Work, on the one hand, and enjoyment, relaxation, recuperation and play, on the other hand, are also no more separated from each other as work and culture . The creators occupation determines his way of life .»2 The six points described are also relevant to our everyday architecture: 1) We can broaden the concept «manufacture of the product»; not only is the finished building implied here, but the concept also includes sketches of ideas, competitions, research work as well as temporary installations and exhibitions. 2+3) To be an architect means stretching space. This complexity can only be confronted, if each person knows what he is doing at every moment, why he bears responsibility and makes this recognisable in relation to the overall aim of the studio. 4) Apart from the inherently formal, architecture comprises in particular political, technical, economic, social and cultural aspects, a broad field in which we are directly located and which never ceases to challenge us. 5+6) Architecture cannot simply be hung up in the evening. It does not sleep, but rather sharpens and determines perception beyond the day and teaches to read what has never been written – the book of our built environment.
Ex novo, trans substantiam, in fictione or learning from St. Moritz
It is a well-know tradition that architects sally forth their sketchbook in order to see a city and learn to understand. Rome is such a city which has challenged architects to read about the built environment for centuries. In his book «Complexity and Contradiction» , Robert Venturi emphatically attests that this has been the case to date. Encouraged by his experiences in portentous Rome, he had a go at the seemingly banal desert town of Las Vegas accompanied by this colleagues and students and designed a syntax of the architectonic ability to communicate from specific reading. The illusion constructed from luxury, play and enjoyment located in the Alps is called St. Moritz. As architects working from St. Moritz, we learn from it. Unlike any other Alpine location, not only does it stand for the industrialisation of the mountains due to tourist development, but rather, more importantly, for its aura, originality, excess and extravagance. In this respect, St. Moritz is both the rule and the exception where the desire for the provincial is reflected in the layout of the urban and vice-versa. To really become familiar with a place means to accept it in all its peculiarities and not to accidentally cover it up with outlandish generalisations. Maps and drawings, photos and written sources, including letters, holiday hiking pictures, building laws, but also fiction contribute to a consciousness of intensity and intimacy which has rich associations. Reading a place also means to crystallise the guiding principles of historic development, so that the built present which in St. Moritz appears to be essentially chaotic, is traceable and comprehensible. Therefore, we derive formal principles from specific qualities which are subordinate to the physiognomy of the place in order to use them elsewhere as a concept in their general orientation. In St. Moritz Spa, which owes its existence to the spring and since the 1850s has emerged ex novo as an actual town foundation with the old and new spa hotel with pump room, Hotel Victoria and the chalybeate bath, individual buildings are connected by means of sight and movement axes to each other via the common public space, the spa park, in accordance with generally accepted urban principles of the time. The composition emphasises the cosmopolitan background which is pitted against the
Reference is made to Hugo von Hofmannsthals dictum from «Der Tor und der Tod» from 1908: «Read what was never written.» C.Wright Mills quotes from Richard Sennett: Handwerk, Berlin 2008, p. 42.
mountains and the natural conditions in the Inn Valley as a spa cooperation arena, to the point that fastidious guests begin to stroll in the shade of the architecture for the summer as they had been accustomed to doing in Monaco, Baden Baden or Marienbad. With the erection of the spa complex in the Inn Valley, a bit of European city living as a social setting was imported into the mountains. In contrast, St. Moritz Village developed trans substantiam from the existing to become the stronghold of winter sports. Thus, many hotels sprang from the original rural tavern. It is insightful to see how the houses, based on their desire to have a view, gradually freed themselves from their village fate and turned to gaze on the landscape which provided the impetus for urban development. Thus, the transformation of the village can be identified as a principle of fate on the slope towards the lake which collectivises the desire for as much of a vista as possible in a type of panoramic coordination arena, akin to an audience at a premiere that piously lines up in the auditorium – on a gentle slope emanating from the edge of the stage – in order to enjoy an exclusive view of the performance in peace and in pleasant company. The structural richness of the emblematic, which in reality has been increasingly at odds with actual in situ development and has ultimately lost all connection with it in recent years, has its roots in the conflicting relationship between the general nature of the spa and the specifics of the village. Thus, the overall resort construction is increasingly becoming a phantasmagoria whose success is reflected in the St. Moritz Brand which is available in fictione at any time and everywhere. The mountain serves as its backdrop, the town becomes illusory while the actual is ready to be bought in a type of illusory consumerist arena. «Top of the world» is emblazoned on perfumes, bottles of Bordeaux, sports equipment and four by fours. The world no longer colonises St. Moritz, but rather vice-versa.
The resonance from the triad of Spa, Village and Brand gives rise to the leitmotif of our studio, the theatrum mondi of the mundane, concerning the preoccupation arising from constructing buildings for tourism, which not only stages the formal power of what is worth seeing in situ with multiple references, but also critically questions the anaemic, singularly formal alpine antics which are in fashion at the moment. It seems important to us that each architect has his/her own St. Moritz or Las Vegas, a place of anchoring which challenges, astonishes and provokes. For whoever has learnt to read what captivates him, no longer forgets how to write it.
Image, stage, construction or the role of architecture
To read a place means a lot more than just to decode the façade of a house from an architectural point of view and label it or pick the individual building and celebrate it as a masterpiece of a renowned architect. To read a place means to understand that architecture is a protagonist. Thus, St. Moritz plays a very different role during mid-season when the stores are empty and draped and talk of the past or await the future than when the snow imposes a common thought, the forgiving winter, on the dispersed buildings and people in the here and now tramp through the alleyways right next to each other, as if they would perform on catwalks in a fashion show! That which applies to the building itself is also important for the making of. Each project seeks out its role within a specific context in order to converse with the surrounding space as it turns into a stage giving inhabitants room for play. For the process of developing good architecture should not be decided on in a conceptual manner beforehand, but rather discussed as a scenario within a setting. Since the intermezzo of the modern, the picture is regarded as a medium and mass conveyor of the concept and retouching served this purpose. Whatever could have obscured the initial concept was removed, i.e. the famous radiators in front of glass walls of modern villas or the staid façade of detached houses which the Schröder House by Rietveld in Utrecht rounds off with a formal headstand on the walking stick. Today, this tradition continues to exist in the aseptic flood of imagery of photo-realistic renderings. They are our legacy of modernity which, in the furore of the tabula rasa, forgot to bear in mind what has gone before and what is yet to come, as if there would be no architecture beyond the image! If I leaf through the professional journals, successful building seems to be legitimised in that it does not differ from the picture conjured up. The picture is also important to us, not as a precocious presumption, but rather as the potential promise of a future reality. With the image, we do not show a premature reproduction, but rather we sketch to initiate a sample by sending it to the stage continually, where it appears and illustrates to the audience what the construction could be. Regardless of whether this takes the form of the intimate role of a customised miniature or the extrovert role on the spacious planks of an urban landscape such as the Oberengadin. This leads to another triad constellation of methodical importance, that of image, stage and construction. The more the three aspects converse with each other, offer each other mutual encouragement, the more architecture will become that space which makes it consistently valuable for catering to needs of society as lebensraum. St. Moritz, 2009 www.christophsauter.com www.scenarena.com
new era of globalisation, increased mobility, dominance of information technologies, but also severe environmental decline has already emerged. Architecture as A
part of social context is affected by all these rapid changes. On the other hand, Architecture itself affects people’s everyday life, even societies as a whole.
Architects know how to collaborate, to work in groups.
Architects are familiar with information technologies and work with them. Architects like to travel, to explore, to communicate, to be
Therefore, architects can easily
adapt to this new reality.
The future belongs to teams, to the power of the group which by using the technological improvements in the globalised societies are able to communicate, to get [self]organised in order to move on to a more A ‘bottom-up’ architectural process means to design in
democratic way of planning.
collaboration with the users, taking into consideration their specific
needs, desires and dreams.
Different users of space and architecture have different needs and different expectations. But they do have some notions in common; they demand a better relation between the artificial and the natural. Architecture should go in that direction and achieve a better
equilibrium between the built and the natural environment.
Don’t forget to think green! Architecture also exists beyond building! Architecture= _action in the city or beyond it _activation of terrain vague [of the inactive] _bottom-up planning _collaboration _critical thinking _ecology=economy _ [syn]energy _multi-events _global+local attitude _networks _political state _praxis+theory _social awareness Architects possess the power to transform the drawbacks of a globalised world into effective tools for collaboration, communication and action. ‘Star architects’ still exist, but they already belong to the past. The to the networks, collaborative young architects in action! Don’t loose time! Take part!
Further reading: Thacker Eugene, Networks, Swarms, Multitudes, Part one-two, www.ctheory.net Hardt M. & Negri A., Multitude: War and democracy in the age of empire, Penguin Press, New York High C., Perry C. [editing.], Collective Intelligence in Design, Architectural Design, August 2006, article Hardt M., Designing commonspaces: Riffing with Michael Hardt on the Multitude and Collective Intelligence. ACTAR, the Metapolis Dictionary of Advanced Architecture. City, Technology and Society in the Information Age,
ACTAR, Barcelona, 2003
Lithuania THE FUTURE OF THE PROFESSION OF ARCHITECTURE
Two words immediately come to my mind after reading the task: RETHINKING and REACTING. I think they can fit anywhere now, not only in my own country, but in others as well. We have been stuck into the same routine for too long and I guess that most of us have simply become phony and indifferent to anything around. The thing which strikes me the most lately is the fear and uncertainty I see in people’s eyes, and for some reason I think it’s good, it’s good that we have begun to THINK again, and we are awaking from this luring period of PROSPER AND ECONOMIC RISE, which mostly turned us into those money-making machines, that needed to have more of everything, more things, more gadgets etc. I surely don’t object the progress or any kind of development, I just think that while moving forward we have forgotten one simple thing, we have forgotten that we are humans and that we have virtues. We have lost them somewhere around, while rushing in this capitalism – fake – money-making train. We lost trust in each other, have become cruel and dishonest. I’m not an idealist, but I guess, now is the time, which we tend to call crisis or economic downturn etc., which simply means that this train reached the edge and creatively speaking there are only two ways out: to return back (as history has this interesting way to repeat itself), or to get together and to build a new road, so that our train could reach the other side, of course, it means we would need to get rid of many unnecessary and fake things, as the new road is going to be quite fragile at first and we should really be aware and careful. We simply must see the good sides of this change as well; we must react to where we’ve come to and search for solutions. The fear that we feel and the uncertainly we have about the future is good, because it makes us more vigilant and powerful in order to react and start acting. In some ways this notion an ARCHITECT could suit us now more than ever before. This struggle that we deal with now leaves us no choice apart of looking at ourselves, reassessing our own virtues and trying not only to survive through this difficult period, but somehow find the strength to take advantage of it and move forward. That’s why when thinking about The Future of the Profession of Architecture, I would like to slightly change the sentence into Architecture of Our Own Lives Is Our Future. Because what is an architect, a chief builder if translated from Greek, and who are we if not chiefs of our own lives. Before anything else, we have to clean, design and build again our own lives and now is the perfect time to do that. Personally, me as an architect, I can easily suit this notion to architects as professionals as well, as I don’t think that a modern and glamorous sky-scraper in the middle of frayed buildings surrounded by homeless people with reaching hands will ever be considered an art, nor will I feel a human. We need to get deep down to the needs. As some wise Roman historian once said: “Every man is the architect of his own fortune”, it’s that simple.
we wanted to make a contribution to â€œthe future of the profession of architectureâ€?. It was supposed to be an essay, but we have written more like phrases or sentences about the future; About the creation a drop of clearity in this time of confusement a drop of rest in a time of movement tasks, challenges simplicity in the mass the creation must react to the ever changing environment the drizzle in the sky as fresh bakery in dry grass preventing yourself from falling forward.
Hilde Vinge Fanavoll Marianne Madland HagesĂŚther
Architecture as a process Architecture, and it is obvious, is a process. As a process, it involves different fields of knowledge and skills such as sociology, space organization, design, communication, engineering and so on. As a process, it is about transforming the world physically or metaphysically and generate something new out of old or banal things. As a process, it is up to us to choose its purpose but itâ€™s also our mandate to control its consequences. As we conceive a building, a furniture, a landscape or a theory, we have to be conscious of what will be its impacts on the world. Architecture can serve either our own purpose, trying to astonish the world with our exceptional skills or it can serve humanity. Some of you will, of course, answer me that it can serve both but the truth is, most of the magnificent and amazing buildings that we see rise from the ground come at a very high cost, in terms of energy or environment. (St)Architects often lack of sobriety. During the last decades, we have seen the concept of ecology taking over all kinds of human activities : from alimentary business to transports sector, from construction branch to fashion companies. Like everything else, architecture has been touched by this global movement under the label of sustainable design or green architecture. Architects started to refer to the concept of vernacular architecture, finding environmental qualities in these kinds of buildings. This show how far architects went from the reality of their role because vernacular architecture is the reflection of our own uselessness. It is just architecture without us... This is the fascination of our own absence. This is why architects have to earn back their position in the society. Architecture is not about entertaining the world as artists, it is about improve humanâ€™s heritage (in terms of culture or construction) so it is NOT about designing fancy buildings to win large scale competitions, it is about making the world better. To do so, we just have to ask ourselves what our design will bring to the people we gave it to, and at what price. Globalization has changed the cost of production and maintenance in every sectors, relaying on abundance of fossil fuels and low salary of developing countries workers, regardless of ethics and common senses. That is were our future belongs and so does the future of our profession. After decades of incitation, we must now penalize building that cost too much to the community and reward good designs and conceptions. As a concrete measure, we could apply taxes or regulation on architects fees regarding the energy efficiency and the construction cost of their buildings. Architecture is a process that use the world resources to make it better. In our world, we have failed to answer the most important problems spawned by the technological revolution of the past century. We have refused to see what were the consequences of our most common actions. It is time to pay the real cost of our decisions . We have to unite in order to create a better world...
I think that is what EASA is about: unite in order to create a better architecture...
Society scale We always seem to ask ourselves about “the future” of architecture, when we should rather ask about the present. But this thing called present seems to be the shortest version of time, compared to past and future. Well, some character in “Waking life”, Richard Linklater’s movie, was saying that “there is only one instant, and it’s right now, and it’s eternity”. If things just come in time layer after layer after layer, than, there is no future so we can grab up the timeline and concentrate it in one moment and then talk about that.. in an instant. It’s not only about where architecture is going, it’s more like the world’s direction. Everything is tied up together so they have to work like that. Architecture is becoming more and more selfish, and that may be because it sometimes evolves from one man’s need to evolve, the selfish architect, and not from society’s need. It’s not human scale that we should worry about anymore, it’s society scale. Today this searching for the right shape, right structure, right everything seems like if you would have a deadline tomorrow, but you haven’t started the project because you still have some research to do. Sometime we have to stop for a while and use everything we have until that moment so we can start and finish something..and of course, pass the test, win the competition. It sometimes feels like we don’t even really care about the future or the past. It’s just this competition between generations that drives us crazy and makes us evolve, as we like to believe. How happy would we be if we could peek for one second at the future, so that afterwards we can be better than them! The present of architecture is a result of rich people’s needs, meaning 5% of world’s population, so we are mainly going to live in a world built by them. The architecture being built is not human scale or society scale, it’s money scale. Another problem of this”instant” is that architecture is being discussed mainly among architects, so again it’s a small percent of the world’s population. We like to believe we evolve, but we never ask other people what they think about contemporary architecture. Well, they don’t like it. Architects sometimes think too much of themselves and ignore the people who “know nothing about architecture”. So how do you train people so they can know something about it? Most of the architecture magazines are read by architects. Architecture can be considered as public art, but even in this domain people have been complaining that it doesn’t represent their personalities, but those of the artists. So who are we representing when planning a building?
The Future of the Profession of Architecture The architectural profession has been undergoing something of a transformation over the last twenty, or so, years. An office once full of drawing boards, set squares and scalpels has been replaced, majorly if not completely by row after row of computers full with every programme necessary for design. It is not only the instruments within the work place that have changed, but the people themselves. A study I undertook during my first year of architecture confirmed my suspicions, that the general public view architects as stuffy, middle aged men, who are exceptionally intelligent but have no real concept of what the modern client is looking for. However, if this ever was the case, then it is certainly not today. In addition to the ‘traditionals’, an ever diminishing bunch of people who prefer to hand draw rather than use CAD, there are an increasing number of ‘Millenials’1 within the workplace. These are people born after 1980 who are posing quite a challenge to some employers as they enter the profession. “The older generations complain that the younger ‘think they know it all,’ while the younger lament the older generation’s unavailability or perceived lack of interest in teaching.”2 However, if looked upon with a positive eye, this new influx of people, coupled with the technological transformation can only mean good things for the profession as a whole. The younger generation understand the need for sustainability and working for social causes, two factors which are greatly to affect the future of architecture and which must be integrated into everyday practise. ‘When compared statistically with older generations, Millennials are well educated, technologically adept, outgoing, flexible, eager to learn, and adventuresome.’3 This eagerness to learn allows the older generation to pass down knowledge which is impossible to gain purely from education, therefore, ‘providing more interactive environments would help people see that there are learners looking for teachers and vice versa.’4 The future of the profession of architecture rides on the two main age groups being brought together by a common work environment and combining their separate skills in the name of design. ‘A multigenerational team can work smoothly if everyone recognizes the strengths that others bring to the table.’5
1 2 3 4 5
Making the Most of Your Firm’s Millennials, B J Novitski, August 2008 Strategies for the Intergenerational Workplace, Kate Kirkpatrick, Steve Martin and Sandi Warneke http://archrecord.construction.com/practice/firmCulture/0808firm-1.asp Strategies for the Intergenerational Workplace, Kate Kirkpatrick, Steve Martin and Sandi Warneke http://archrecord.construction.com/practice/firmCulture/0808firm-1.asp
Modern Architecture Must Embrace Modern Materials
The title of this essay is both a reference to one of the main ideologies behind modernist architecture and my own musings of how the profession of architecture could develop in the future. As the modernist movement emerged in the early 20th century its enthusiastic embrace of new technologies enabled it to become such a revolutionary movement, creating buildings that are still considered ‘modern’ 100 years after their creation. The belief that architecture should be “of its age” was one of the many repetitive arguments that Le Corbusier made in Towards An Architecture. His age was one of cars, aeroplanes and cruise ships, an age where the west was reaping the benefits of the industrial revolution of the previous century. Architecture is by definition an optimistic pursuit, and in this world of speed and excitement, the industrial aesthetic became representative of an architecture that could solve society’s ills. In spurning the ‘donkey’s way’ in favour of the highway, Le Corbusier, amongst others, used the new technology available to both form and inform their architecture, defining for many what is ‘modern’ up to this day. As the industrial age gave way to the nuclear age it is difficult to argue that this new technology had a discernable impact on the architecture of the time. However, in the cultural zeitgeist of the time was to embrace the nuclear aesthetic, but I feel that the excitement at the prospect of a world of limitless energy was quickly replaced by the fear and paranoia of the Cold War. As a result the cultural artefacts of the time seem even more dated then modernist buildings dating from 30 years previously. We have now arrived at the digital age, a time where we are reaping what was sown by the industrial revolution, where the naïve faith in technology has been replaced with realisation that the world is being destroyed by it. Architects are espouse the benefits of modern technology in the pursuit of improved ways of designing buildings, however it is very hard to envisage the development of a new building technology that got everyone as excited as concrete managed in the past. The technology of our age is ephemeral and disposable: ipods, mobiles and computers. It has no definitive look or style for any longer than it takes to sell them. This poses the question of how ‘proper’ architecture i.e., a solid, permanent structure can truly represent this age that we find ourselves in? The definition of what constitutes ‘proper’ architecture has always been blurred, but the advance of technology allows architects to experiment even further in ways of creating space and manipulating the senses. There is obviously more to being modern that simply looking modern, but as we have now reached the point where it impossible to build a solid structure that represents our age I think that architects will start to utilise technology to create virtual architecture. We already have computer games where whole civilisations are created and designed which you inhabit and experience, although through the interface of a screen. As technology improves and our ability to control our senses increases I think that virtual reality, where you are completely immersed in a digital world, will provide the new setting for modern architecture. Architecture will be built within machines rather than machines simply aiding the design process. Architects will be able to completely control the world in which they build, something that has eluded them from the beginning of time. It can be argued that many architects are so egomaniacal that the possibility to save their buildings from indignity of being exposed to the ebb and flow of life would be eagerly embraced. I believe it is quite telling that the Villa Savoye, possibly the defining modernist building, sits in splendid isolation surrounded by trees. The messy and unpredictable outside world is removed, allowing you to fully appreciate the building. Le Corbusier even went so far as to sketch it in various landscapes, displaying his distain for engaging in the context of the project. At present architects cannot control how their buildings are experienced past a certain point. When compared to a painting in a quiet gallery, the reality of experiencing a building will always be affected by the unpredictable and anarchic qualities of other people. In a virtual world architects could be fully realised. These designs shown in photo shopped renderings where it is constantly sunny with people flying kites and behaving nicely to each other could be experienced first hand. The concept behind a building could be easily expressed and not put under pressure from the external forces of the city. For example, the concept of the Villa Savoye fell foul of reality in the most mundane way possible. The concept of the car journey from Paris ending in the reconnection with nature through the window on the roof was broken by the realities of life. The garage was designed around the turning circle of the client’s car, yet when he bought a new one it didn’t fit anymore, disrupting the smooth transition from city to nature through the house. If this story is true it is the perfect example of how architects failure to engage with reality could be easily remedied by removing the actual need to. Complete control would move architecture further into the world of art, the computer becomes the gallery that people enter to experience the newest and most exciting compositions of the age. It will be argued whether this is a proper form of architecture. Yet any argument that it isn’t real can be countered with the position that architecture don’t have to be real to exist. There are many famous projects that were simply drawings, such as Parc De La Villete by OMA, this doesn’t exist but it is definitely real. Or if the Barcelona Pavilion hadn’t been rebuilt, and all that remained where some photographs, it would still be accepted as a real building. As peoples perceptions of the world are morphed by technological advances in virtual reality so to will the definitions of architecture. I propose that the future of architecture can be seen today, within the realms of computer games, a future where technology enables the architect to fully execute their ideas and dreams without the cumbersome responsibilities to people and obstructions of the built world.
Being modern will mean being digital. To experience the modern we will have to immerse ourselves in the digital. Architecture will become a pure experience.
The crumbly Architect The Architect has obviously changed through the Centuries. From a job superintendent (an omniscient-prestigious-leader living on site, involved in the building process) to a sexy-packaging-designer (a form maker leading a busy social life, exporting his designs abroad). Whatâ€™s next? Get invisible. No more need of a body carrier, no nameâ€Ś just a vision, an idea, a problematic...something abstract. That we could put into boxes and use/combine/mix it whenever, wherever, for whatever again and again...
All the worldâ€™s a stage, And all the men and women merely players: They have their exits and their entrances; William Shakespeare
And architect plays his role as a producer. Who thinks about how to move and what to reach in the end, in what manner you should live, even in what place you should laugh or where to cry. He is creating the scenario of the human being life. So who is he-or what should he be? During the ancient Egypt times he always was one of the oracles or the brother of the pharaoh-that meant they were the most trustable ones for so important job to do. The history went on and Nowadays actors want to be the producer or there is no limit between them at all. It may become a big chaos and mass at the end. But the time is cyclic. And people are coming back to the beginning.
Julija and Laura
“THE FUTURE OF THE PROFESSION OF ARCHITECTURE” First of all, future is not known jet, but everybody can guess. It’s like 80’s movies with science fiction how should be looking the worl in 2000, so we are living now in this century and we can guess same silly like they did, because that’s ho these moves looks today, they are funny. I don’t know any thing about future and how our profession will look like, I’m just guessing, like we all should do, that it will be not important shape, desing or other esthetic stuff. In first place would stand idea and the content that inspires the idea. And it is possible to explane, with all media that we have in internet, it doesn’t mater which region you are you can see all global world architecture. So the architecture now is becoming global. It is virtual architecture. You never seen it but you can imagn it, (I never been to paris but I know how eiffel looks like, and I feel like I have been there). Future architecture is virtual, you need just to creat people virtual space, there they would see what they need and they never get out from their home. I never would like it would happened but it is possible to create “matrix”(virtual life). You have your interior space and outside doesn’t mater for you, because interior gives what you want. But it is still important. Maybe you can say it is quite stupid, but with these days technologies it is possible like this(big screens), it is possible to create virtual space in side. But about out side it is still hard to do this, I know Japanese is experimenting with smart nano technologies, so in future it is possible that they will work for architecture to. Maybe I’m sounding silly, but if they will be so “smart”, it is possible just to have updates to your house, and it will change how you want or architect design it. So the only work for architects, would be quite similar to today, just siting to the computer and creating virtual architecture that can change in the minute. Like you get tipical box and with updates it is changing. (ipod tipical – inside differs by personality) “unreal estate architects”-your money our updates
Essay Competition INCM009 The future of the profession of architecture
The new generation of architect and the underground war
In every European city that has known the industrialization there are today some “empty” before occupied from productive buildings. These zones (what they often have 200 years hold buildings) bring with them a heritage of traditions, local history, productive spaces where we can read the evolution tied up to the job of that place and therefore tied up to the development of the community that there alive. These big industrial areas are sometimes re-used like cultural and social spaces, example in Berlin, their dimensions allow an easy new use; very often however they are demolished to the ground to build, all over the world, anonymous house units or commercial centers leftly similar between them. This choice involves the loss of specific identificative characteristic that the city to developed in so much time. An example that this logic has followed is found to Dublin near the old Docks to the harbour, where the many stores in red bricks of the last century have been replaced from a modern district, only an isolated (not tied up to the contexts in which it is found) chimney behind the theater of Libezkind remains to memory of the preceding history.
The new generations of architects are aware of the importance that a new construction must communicate with the place in which it is found. A forehand example that we know of this knowledge can be seen in some parts of the documentary of the EASA008, or it is exposed as critical manifesto in the last Italian (SupermARCHet) EASA edition that is ironic to the actual tendency of an architecture Pret-a-porter served as great signatures, they bring to homologate the skylines of the cities doing to disappear the variety of colors, materials and styles that the cities countersign to different latitudes and longitudes.
Anyway seems there is in action a underground war among the architectures of extreme design that don’t have roots in the place where are built but that they have strong prominence among the media and who tries instead to preserve and to give new life to spaces that have been important parts of the body of the cities. Who works now in this field must choose if to continue the evolutionary thread of the city, naturally leaving a testimony of his experience or sensibility or to cancel the preexisting fabric and to connect the confinements with the old city with new elements totally been born by his mind. The battle against the homologation of the cities also passes from the care that it is had in to judge the productive spaces and of the context in which it is found, to watch out or no to this factor it depends from how much an architect has taken for true what he has been taught him to school or how much it founds him on the experience that has matured in his trips.
I think that all appreciate the beautiful episodic modern architectures but that as many all we find interest visiting city that preserves the old traces of whom has lived us; if the new parts there are well integrated then it is better. The choice is ours.
Prato – ex Cangioli’s factory
A hold postcard
Dublin – Docks
During the past decade, architecture World lived through a non-stop jet-set party. Think about Dubai, Moscow, Barcelona, The party is over now. So we are told. They say we come late, the money is gone, so is the champagne and the glory. But, maybe those who got into this for the ideas, can get lucky. Lack of funds means also lack of pressure, and without pressure freedom gets easier. No, we should not fall into the overplayed fake optimism shown lately by some well established designers and architects displayed all over the world through expensive specialized magazines. Neither should we believe the constant alarmism from the media that leads nowhere but to more whining and shouting, without any true reaction, neither joy, nor anger. Maybe it’s time for us to think. Think for ourselves, staying away from preconceived ideas we inherited from teachers and institutions. Not fighting, crying or begging, just acting as we really were given a blank page, even if it’s obviously not the case and we all know that such “tabula rasa” have always been counterproductive. Maybe it’s time to ask ourselves a few questions, to challenge the way we see our future profession. Is building more in our countries a real need? Do people need new buildings? Whose pockets are we willing to fill? Whose lands are we covering with concrete? Why do we want to build? As it appears to be the ultimate dream of most architecture students. Why do YOU want to build? To make money? To be respected by your colleagues? To nourish your ego? To make your parents feel proud? To make the world a better place? Next question for us is, if we don’t build, what are we going to do? What are all those kids in architecture schools around the world going to do when they get out to real world? We should reconvert ourselves, as architects, into something else than mere builders. Good news is, we can. The greatest virtue of our education being its non specific aspect: pragmatic but yet artistic, rough knowledge on abstract sciences, applied physics, history, economics, laws... Not to say, that the fact that in most european countries the education programs on our discipline are so aged, is resulting in lots of us being autodidacts on many fields, from learning how to use software, to documenting ourselves on new ways of thinking, styles ... Not mastering anything is both our main flaw and our greatest achievement, knowing that we’ll never be able to control by ourselves the whole process, but still wanting to have a global vision of what’s going on. The diverse roles a professional architect has to adopt during a single working day are as complex as our world is, meeting a vast array of completely different people: from students to workers, businessmen and artists, lawyers and policemen, politicians and neighbours, the local mafia and the local activists... And that’s not even their main job. Hence, the virtue of architects is seeing for themselves truly what the world is about, how deals are made and how society works. And that’s key to any reconversion. There’s no clear answer about who will we be, or what will we do. No one knows how long the crisis will stay with us or how it is going to affect the future economics, probably changes won’t be big and people would like to go back to their old lifestyles. Meanwhile, we are given the time to stop, watch and think. We will be able to grow up, quietly, without anyone noticying and we should make something good out of it, out of the fact that no one is expecting nothing from us anymore, out of focus.
Surprisingly, Most Builders Don’t Own a 3D Laser Cutter. Surprisingly, most architects don’t own a saw (or know how to use one).
So the future of architecture is digital realisations of algorithmic computer generated......blah blah blah. Personally I’ll take any excuse nowadays to get away from an electronic screen (imagining ‘pop ups’ in my real vision is surely a sign that moving from screen to screen all day isn’t healthy, or that I’m mental). To think that everyday architects and builders are anywhere near these advanced levels of technology is retarded.
Back in the padded world of architecture school I was torn between two ways of thinking. The ultimately more enjoyable but totally unemployable beliefs of our aging hippy tutors - just hand draw it, photography, collage, sculpture, dancing in space (that actually did happen). Then there was the second way, computers, and nothing but. Obviously the speed and efficiency are the strongest aspects of digital production, copy/ paste etc. This performs well for the technical aspects of architecture but has somehow also managed to infiltrate every other aspect too. If we lived our lives with this mentality of speed and efficiency we would only drink water, eat boiled rice and speak German. To employ the computer as another tool within ones own toolbox will lead to richer, more dynamic and human architectural experience. Once moving into practice from school, the now compulsory digital face slapping begins. Everyday, every employee clicking away for a solid ten hours (as well as being bad for your eyes, or mental health) leads to a real disconnection with the real world. The real world where the plans and details will be made, which the architect is creating on his little screen. The model room in the last office I worked in was stocked full with the same materials and tools that would too be used on site; a great place for experimenting and becoming familiar with the ‘tools of the trade’, now just used for the odd cheeky cigarette when it is raining.
I’m fully aware that architects are designers, not craftsmen, (I had to show a group of architects how to put a drill bit into a drill once) but having little to no knowledge of craft and how a site really works is like having a blind man coaching a football team.
Of course there are emerging computer driven machines that can produce form from a computer drawing, but these are still far from common, even in the developed world. Like with the Concorde, economics will hinder the progress of science.
So, for a change, try switching off the glitzy software and picking up a hammer. Get to know your materials and how they are transformed into architecture first hand. It’ll result in finer architecture, a smoother working process between architects and builders and make you look tough in front of your architecture pals.
I didn’t want to try to write an epic essay on the grand future of architecture, as I honestly don’t have a clue, but hopefully, if anything, designers and craftsmen understanding each others world a little more may lead to catcalling and porn becoming commonplace in architecture offices and schools worldwide.
“Listening Architecture” an option for the future of the profession of architecture.
The ability to listen is a rare one. It is certainly easier to hear than it is to listen. Perhaps, the reason the best medics, negotiators, peace-makers and psychologists are so good at what they do, is because of their innate ability to listen?
It might seem strange to advocate we as architects need to improve our listening skills to produce more appropriate work. Yet, I believe there is so much we can gain from it.
We need to listen to who our clients actually are. What are their habits? What are their loves, their hates, their joys and their fears? We need to listen to them to understand what they want not what we want for them. We need to listen to the client brief, so we can try and offer them a space or a series of spaces that is appropriate to their needs and not those of the architectural world.
Along with a client and a brief invariably comes a site. Listening to what the features, the light, the shadow, the terrain, the access and the views of a site ask us to do may seem obvious, but it is rarely successfully done.
And what about the builders and the craftsmen who have that magical ability to turn a drawing or a model into a reality, a real space? I don’t think I will ever stop listening to what they have to say. Their ideas and thoughts are what help my architecture become more practical and my details more appropriate.
Maybe with this first step, all the other issues about style, technology, format, form and aesthetic will be given their place. It is true bauen ist eine lust,* we just need to listen more.
* Building is a joy.
Seán Ántóin Ó Muirí
The Future of the Architectural Profession
Thusis and Zürich / www.urbanplus.ch / www.iseppi-kurath.ch
THE FUTURE NOW – action theory for architects
First statement: For over 60 years, architects have been faced with a serious dichotomy between their ideas and values – which have been documented in numerous designs – and the mundane reality of the built environment, such as urban sprawl or “Zwischenstadt”, junk spaces, periphery and functionally defined spaces.
Second statement: In spite of decades of effort on the part of town and regional planning bodies, architects have not succeeded in changing that. The blame for this failing is firmly put on so-called ‘driving forces’, such as globalisation, liberalisation and privatisation.
Third statement: Town and regional planning – originally the domain of architects – has been taken over by geographers, sociologists, ethnologists, engineers, economists and other professions, who seem to be less troubled by complex space transformation tasks. In this process, questions of spatial organisation have been replaced by questions of systems organisation. Design has been replaced by management.
Fourth statement: Contemporary architects confine themselves to designing ad-hoc-commercial architecture, without reference to the whole. Fragmentation is met by even more fragmentation.
Fifth statement: Architects evoke the idea of ‘generic cities’ and seek ever more all-embracing context on an ever larger scale. Complexity is met by even more complexity.
Sixth statement: Apart from the cult surrounding a few star architects, architecture has lost its place in people’s heads. Architecture has degenerated to a mere question of taste, to a mere service – without any higher professional claims.
The future of architecture will depend on whether the profession can succeed in meeting these statements.
Future 1 – DEVELOPING VISIONS: Architecture needs holistic visions and space concepts that are more than reflections of the predominant production conditions. These should not reproduce complexities but should build on the social and spatial characteristics of our everyday environment and work out options for space development capable of meeting future demands.
Essaycompetition_The future of the profession of architecture
Cut the crap The automobile, the airplane, the computer, the walkman, the internet, the cell phone, facebook, twitter, … Mass globalization has rapidly shrunk the world to the size of our palm. Time and space have become irrelevant. The digital, on the other hand, seems to be very real. Write a sentence, press a single button and your thoughts and emotions are going around the world, public, for everybody to see. It is the age of the voyeur and the voluntary stalked. A big brother society we chose to live in. It’s also a time of public fear, terrorism, crisis, climate change, … A catastrophe seems inevitable and maybe it even is. In these times architecture has become an almost ancient profession. Instead of architecture we now settle down with the live action building of renders made by, what we like to call, “Star Architects”. What today is shown on television and on the internet, for many people the only sources of information and thereby seen as always true, is not architecture but a nice looking image of something that is supposed to be a building. Image is the keyword. It would now be very easy to blame the downfall of architecture on those Star Architects, but I’ve decided not to do that. Instead I pity them. They are victims. Their work has been exploited by those who have money and power. The Star Architects are being raped, every day a little more. And it’s not only Star Architects, way too often it’s also the architect next door, hell, it might even inflict you and me someday. So far the bad news. So where do we go from here? Do we accept the current position of architects as mere image makers? Or is architecture about something else, and if so, about what? As almost always there is no clear answer. It is impossible to give one correct comprehensive definition of architecture, however, it is possible to give a notion on what it can or cannot be. There is only one certainty in life and that is death, this is the human condition and everything is bound to it. Architecture is so to speak a matter of life and death. Contemporary architecture is loosing its grip on reality, it’s trying to be bigger than life, its mocking death and it will be the downfall of the profession as we used to know it unless we cut the crap! Context, style, image,… are all inventions by man. They all change in time, so in a way they are meaningless to the architect (their meaning only exists in the discussions made by architects for architects in a certain period of time). The only parameter that counts and has always counted is the human condition. From that perspective the future of the profession of architecture is actually not different from its current or past situation. It may seem paradoxical, but having only one parameter makes it only harder to make architecture. Sometimes it even means we have to stop design and leave things for what they are. Namely, an unfinished building stands way closer to the conditions of life than a perfectly designed world. Giving architecture to life is a never ending quest, the reason is simple, each life is unique, so should be each building. I cannot give you a manual, I can only give you this.
Thomas Cattrysse August 30th 2009
Perfection is an aspiration which all professions strive for, including architecture. The profession of architecture is becoming evermore reliant on computers; designers are no longer simply using CAD as a virtual drawing board but beginning to allow the computer to design for them, thus gaining a perspective of this “perfection”. With programmes such as winddimulation and websites like amikasa, the user can simply gain a “perfect” building without the need of an architect, thus entirely eliminating any future reliance on the architect and his/ her profession.
However, architecture will never and can never achieve a perfect state where everyone accepts that the one best form of design has now been achieved. The reason for this is that society is constantly changing and mutating, and with this, so must architecture as a response, something a programme could not begin to comprehend. This aspect applies to architecture as much as it does to any other art form or any item produced in society. People in one generation may strive for a certain perfect form and they may even achieve it in their lifetime. However, even if they do, this form does not become the one perfect standard, never changing again. Instead, the next generation considers what has been created before and strives to achieve something. If architecture is considered as art, this is the same process that occurs with all other forms of art. For example, literature created centuries ago does not remain as the one perfect form for literature. Shakespeare’s work is still considered great, but the writers of today rarely create works similar to Shakespeare. Instead, they create works that reflect modern society, while possibly taking aspects of Shakespeare’s work and building on them. Architecture, like literature creates a continual process of change, where one form grows into others.
Architects, get off the computer and pick up a pencil.
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Architecture: perfect ideas and adapted realities. We pursue perfect ideas. We are not engineers. We adapt to realities. We are not artists. Architecture, perfect ideas and adapted realities.
„The Future of the Profession of Architecture“ Culture is changing faster every day, We are not riding horses anymore. That makes the time between past, present and future even smaller. When one tries to think about time, its momentary quality creates distress-an instant flash of being late-deadlines here and family there. Architects used to lean towards permanence, now architecture is changing into the temporary way, just because we don’t have time anymore, because of the rapid change every day. >What does the future mean today? The future does not exist, because as soon as it happened, it is in the present. There are three times: the present of things past, the present of things present, and the present of things to come. When Le Corbusier stand before a Greek ruin, the present time in which he was sketching makes time respond, and makes everything that has ever existed in the past, present. The idea of time as no more than present moments and contributes directly to the treatment of architecture as a stage set, therefore it is just a brief spectacle. It is not really for use but for looking at; the exchange value prevails over the use value, the works shown there take second place and are always transitory. >We need a useful reflection on our times Our time is characterized by: rapid change, in business, the home, the relationship, decoration. The word new on product displays gives added value that is the moment in the twentieth century when the idea was born that would produce the third stage of capitalism, an end of history of sorts –the stage of capitalism which produces consumers. The phenomenon of mass consumption did not occur spontaneously, nor was it an inevitable result of insatiable human nature, but rather the contrary. What was insatiable was the entrepreneurs’ thirst for gain, as they brought in machine tools to cut production costs and workforce, and set off a dual, contradictory effect whereby each productivity increase from the machines reduced the number of workers, and thus the number of consumers”. !S o the creation of the third stage of capitalism, neo-liberalism, was a mechanism to ensure the consumers were never lacking. With the help of marketing there would always be the means to acquire the latest thing –the promises of happiness, always set in the future, a promised heaven constantly reinvented. This was the birth of consumer production–which did not, of course, deal with unemployment, but transformed it from a social to a statistical problem. The poverty issue would also be dealt with in the near future. So what has been the impact of this third stage of capitalism and its accelerated time, on the profession of the architect and on architecture? ! Architects used to disappear before their works did, but now that has been reversed. But despite the demolitions, much remains standing. What is built today, though worse executed and faster to age, badly, will still last more than fifty years, an unimaginably long time, particularly at today’s speed of both useful and futile change. We should perhaps consider a lighter, dismountable, even throwaway architecture, as some architects already do.! Yet stronger than the economic rationale is the idea of architecture as the presence of time. Memory is the quintessential human feeling, and architecture can arouse it. !The constructed form has a complex relationship with and what has lasted until today is current, useful, modern, and allows us to retreat in time in order to go forward. It is a mistake to think of demolition as the only way to ‘solve’ problems. On the contrary, we should use and re-use, a way of thinking and re-thinking things. Architecture is simply a way of conceiving reality! What distinguished a good from a mediocre work of architecture was usually the time the architect gave to it.! Uses, needs and techniques may change, but the well-made work, needs from each of us our time, some part of our always limited time, which is precious and given value by its own limits. Time never forgives what is done without it! Yvonne Michel, Architect, CH-Chur