Summer ends and the new term approaches. Thoughts of harassed architectural teachers return to briefs - the written kind. The need to inspire is paramount. And thus teachers have recourse to the tactics of art.
The injection of art into architectural programmes has many precedents. The formal concerns of the Bauhaus lent themselves well to abstracted spatial exercises. Artistic preoccupation with the expression of personal history over the past 15 years has been echoed in programmes encouraging students to dig deep into their private obsessions. And it's arguable that the excitement of Brutalism to inspire the students of its day rested in an undeniable intent to express, just like film-makers and playwrights, the Angry Young Zeitgeist of the time.
But is an uncritical transfer of the concerns of art directly into architecture necessarily appropriate? Adolf Loos, intimate of Kokoshka, put it forcefully: 'The work of art is the private affair of the artist. the house is not. The work of art is answerable to no one; the house to everyone. The work of art wants to shake people out of their comfortableness. The house must serve comfort.' No one is quicker than artists themselves to point out the differences in practice and outcome. The difference is positively recognised by the Royal Society of Arts 'Art for Architecture' scheme. Successful applicants receive money for artists to collaborate with architects from the inception of projects. The inspirational spark of art practice meets architecture on separate, but equal, terms. The complexity of neither is compromised. The outcome is a new form of practice that should provide proper inspiration to students, so long short-changed by a simplistic equivalence between these two great, creative disciplines.