The word ‘collaborative’ should make you as suspicious as the word ‘sustainable’ since both are used to vindicate projects and relationships. But appearing collaborative, like appearing to be happy in the office, is a condition of professional employability, and so the word seems unavoidable and even empty, especially for architects who can’t make a project on their own anyway. At the same time, we hear more and more about ‘collectives.’ Both concepts reflect a society anxious that its mounting crises have something to do with unchecked individualism.
Architects are traditionally uncomfortable with acknowledging their dependence on other actors, so My Invisible Friend invites them to present projects made with non-architects and to reveal the invisible friends without whom their work would be impossible. Each speaker completes three tasks:
1: Tell the story of a decisive encounter with a figure from outside architecture and of how it created a new kind of practice.
2: Pick any dead or fictional non-architect to collaborate with, and explain why.
3: Pick another contemporary architect and a collaborator to inflict upon them, and explain why.
Laurens Bekemans is an architect and co-founder of Brussels-based BC architects & studies—an architectural practice and non-profit research entity and materials laboratory—and most recently, BC materials—an urban mining company that repurposes construction site waste. He is the author, with Pauline Lefebvre, of The Act of Building, and teaches at KULeuven University and UHasselt.
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