As a profession, Architects are obsessed with detail and engineering. More recently they have turned their attention to business and building information modelling systems. Whilst rigorous quality control driven systems of manufacture are finally having a positive effect on the profitability of architectural businesses, they seem to be having a negative effect on the profundity of our buildings. What price do you place on a buildings soul?
Gripped by templates and performance it feels like architecture is on the cusp of losing its soul. Once again, and somewhat regrettably, we have realised a utopian vision where buildings, detail and finishes matter more than people. People change people’s lives, not buildings.
In an industry where sustainability remains an excuse to charge clients more for solar panels or insulation. The products of practice and industry are detached from living. Homes and extensions are show homes and lack character; commercial buildings are functional without form.
It’s time Architects and their counterparts recognise that they have got things wrong and take time to adjust their approach. We are not alone in taking accountability of this systemic situation but will need to lead if we are to affect an industry wide change. A recalibration of practice and delivery is in order.
The design and construction process should put greater emphasis on creative thinking. Whether this is through abstraction of the brief, choice of sustainable materials, development of concept, procurement method; the path to good architecture should not be so well defined.
A natural compulsion to get the detail right is incumbent on any Architect, but the process by which this is achieved varies enormously. Those more interested in making great space appear to be returning to their roots for inspiration; to Arts and Crafts, to the Bauhaus. Throughout history Architects have been recognised for lateral thinking.
The assimilation of ideas over time, without destination, may offer a more fruitful approach to design and therefore product. Whilst working with a diverse and skilled building team to craft a solution might help caress the souls of our homes, for me, expanding the profession’s remit beyond the built form to community engagement, art and place making offers the most interesting and game-changing opportunities.
With even greater, global, access to knowledge and materials Architects should be able to make dramatic changes. The real question is, will the profession take enough time to reflect and act on the strategic and creative changes necessary to generate this shift?
Painting gives me time to stand back. Without restrictions, what would you do differently?