Whether it is sustainable, planning efficiency, artistic innovation, space creation, as seen in many of the prestige Pritzker Architecture Prize winners, and as heroic and noble it may seem, architecture has its limiting factor, at least for the time being. The writing below highlights the goal of many architects, and the limiting factors of what they seek to break through.
One of its limiting factors is technique of construction. Enabling possibility via technological advancement and structural understanding, ie cantilever, curved structure, material replacement, energy efficiency, Architect has more technical tools for materialize their design.
Other than being limited by it technical possibilities, Architecture itself as a discipline can also be challenged by its ideal in aesthetic and spatial planning, where the social design values and economic design values are discussed to create a designated place. (such writing does not include construction management, coordination and other site issues that are part and parcel of architecture).
The below are the less noble pursuits of architects we find so common in the industry. The more noble pursuit shall be written in subsequent issue.
1. FOR RECOGNITION (FAME)
Winning awards to win projects. Be wary for continuous pursuant of recognition that quality and substance could be forgotten.
Such is the case for most architects who fail to innovate further once a recognisable award is bestowed upon them. For example, all completed works of the recipients after the award of Pritzker or similar awards remains recognisable due to their iconicity – Zaha’s curve form, Daniel’s Deconstruction, Gehry’s curve form again.
Once they were innovative in creating creative architecture, Award recipient architects’ works tends to remains singular when the recognition of award is bestowed upon them. Though clients would usually seek architect for their design identity, this encourage the architect to repeat their concept. Thus awarding the Pritzker award would have almost limited the recipient’s chances to further explore as they are recognised and awarded for a certain design concept.
Award giving becomes a double edge sword. Once awarded, architects work are recognised by their singular design technique and fail to move beyond their comfort zone of design. They will seek less risky approach since they have achieved the peak of architecture. On the contrary to the performance bond in building contract, perhaps architecture award could be revoked once the awarded recipient failed to innovate further.
On the contrary, Frank Lloyd Wright outdid everyone in this area. Being mentored under Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright ought to be designing similar to his mentor. In Frank’s career his works ranges from Morris Gift Shop with the stroke of Louis Sullivan, and making the Louis’s curve into circulation and space in the Guggenheim Museum, New York to the entire new working concept in the Fallingwater.
2. FOR MONEY
You don’t need to be an architect to be rich. Some of the architecture firms are owned by non architects, albeit the architectural services are being run by architects. The administrative and management departments share similarity in running a manufacturing factory.
Here is a good quote that applies to all businesses:
“We survive by breathing but we can’t say we live to breath. Likewise, making money is important for business to survive, but money alone cannot be the reason for business to exist.”
– Anu Aga, Former Chair, Thermax Ltd.
Money should not be the aim of business, though cash flow is a survival factor. Architects must also know the business of architecture.
And yet, those that are in the architecture field for decades could not do but to stay in the architecture. Years of experience has yet to make big bucks and some will look for quick money such as the sale and insurance industry.
If money is not primarily what you seek for, see whats next.
3. FOR PASSION
Passion, the only nobility of architecture. If all fails, passion and determination would never leave their backs. Determination never betray. It could also persevere through tough time of architecture as it does require long working hours. This is relevant as Architects are late bloomers. It’s a long haul and most architects do not hit their professional stride until around age 50!
4. FOR LIABILITY
Debts, children’s education, housing loan, to name a few, are some of the limiting factors for existing architect employees to remain confined at job. This in turn restricted creativity and exploration. To reduce risk, Architecture is merely a job for funding purposes and in time, becomes a repetitive chore.
5. FOR DESIGN IDEALS, AND IT’S LIMITS
5a.FOR SPATIAL REENACTMENT
In literature writing there a quote:
“No tears for the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader.” – Robert Frost
The writer creates literature that mimic an emotion. If one were to compare literature and Architecture (which some may say it’s a master of all art), what are the methods employed by architects to create such emotional provoking spaces without becoming a Disneyland? Some may relate such ideas to the Jewish Museum, Berlin by Daniel Libeskind. Though Disneyland and Jewish Museums consist of very different contents, its use of architecture and space as an emotional provoking space could find some common design ground – a recreation of a time and space.
Can the design credential of both Disneyland and Museum be evaluated under the same merit?
5b. FOR BEHAVIORIAL DESIGN
“We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us.”
– Winston Churchill
The old House of Common was rebuilt in 1950 in its old form, remaining insufficient to seat all its members. Such interesting spatial consideration was proposed by Churchill, who was against “giving each member a desk to sit at and a lid to bang” because, he explained, the House would be mostly empty most of the time; whereas, at critical votes and moments, it would fill beyond capacity, with members spilling out into the aisles, in his view a suitable “sense of crowd and urgency.”
And yet, what are the possibility for Architecture to shape better parliamentary business; a parliament house that help politicians make better decision for the country? Though there were interesting debates on designing houses that promotes happiness, or factory to maximise manufacturing performance, or even offices that incite creativity. Ideals are limited, but should be celebrated to promote such ideal. An ideal for an ideal, and it’s an ideal worth seeking for creating a better living environment.
Further writing on Design Ideals to be continued in subsequent chapters.
-to be continued-