Partner Zaha Hadid Architects
Comment on: Lahoud named as de Rijke's successor at RCA
Congratulations to Adrian! Great choice! Watch out for decisive changes to rip through the school!
very promising !
We are indeed living in the era of the living dead ... in the era of retro-styles: minimalism(=neo-modernism), neo-postmodernism, and the most recent retro-infatuation: neo-rationalism ... too many have lost the sense of forward looking exploration required to make real progress. If retro-rationalism succeeds to become/remain the dominant style, then architecture ends up where is was left behind 40 (or indeed 80 years ago, as Rossi was already a revival of Libera) without any contribution or impact whatsoever. This means architecture as discipline looses its raison d'être.
Comment on: What are architects responsible for?
The AJ article asks "Are architects ignoring big ethical questions about their work and diminishing themselves in the process?"
The issues raised were the predictable ones including climate change, growing income inequality ("architects only work for the rich"), and also the devastation of Gaza. Criticism was levelled at RIBA and ARB for promoting a "phoney ethics of the marketplace".
So are architects responsible for a supposedly immoral capitalism, poverty, climate change, Gaza? Should it be a part of their professional ethic to take a stance on these issues? (Which stance??)
No, this would be unprofessional over-reach. The false assumption here is that with respect to such issues the correct moral stance is obvious and non-controversial. The expression of indignant outrage is one thing, concrete decisions addressing such issues are something else altogether.
On what grounds and by who’s empowerment should the architect’s stance and intervention be legitimate? Since this question cannot be answered, the supposed “architect’s responsibility” is an empty, self-engrandizing sham, that only serves to distract the discipline from investing its discursive and research resources to competently address the responsibility it has actually been entrusted with, by the legitimized social actors that are its public and private clients.
To challenge a e.g. public sector client and intervene on the basis of taking a stance on a controversial moral issues, turns this issue into a political issue which can neither be resolved, nor even effectively debated within the confines of the professional relationship. It can only imply stepping back from the job. That is of course always possible.
But should these issues really preoccupy the discourse of the discipline?
No, the discipline is ill equipped to take this on. There are other, better suited, specialized arenas and players to advance these discourses. To miss this crucial point can lead to a rather questionable and bizarre use of academic resources and teaching time: The AJ article mentions a Bartlett/Goldsmith project where students were supposedly led to painstakingly “piece together the events of two days in Gaza last year to determine whether either side is guilty of war crimes”. Aj reports the teacher’s claim that the project is “likely to lead to an investigation by the International Criminal Court.” Really? And if so: Whats next? Academics into the country side?
The urge to do good indiscriminately cannot be the way forward to lift architecture’s deflated self-image. Only the theoretical grasp of architecture’s special societal function and core competency can achieve this. For this you might consult my writings.