In a world in crisis and with many wondering what architecture is good for, we must reflect on how the discipline claims to decide what is good. How do awards work, and what can they do to steer architectural practice?
When survival seems more about managing risks for clients than architectural quality, and with architectural media unstable and anxious in the new attention economy, it comes as no surprise that awards continue to proliferate. In this panicky scramble, the award givers and the receivers seem equally hungry for public recognition. But in the middle of publications and industry groups flinging bling, interesting things are also happening: newish, negative awards are being given, like the Carbuncle Cup, and new attitudes are emerging, like the 2019 Turner Prize finalists asking to share the prize equally.
Awards are a key part of architecture’s self-discipline. They are mechanisms of soft power, reward and erasure, ignorance and even punishment, and reading the history of architecture awards can be a detailed and revealing way of reading architecture history itself. Through the twentieth century, these certificates, gongs, fat cheques, and medallions have defined the canon through mysterious processes of selection that emerge as ceremonies reflected in the news, only to disappear again.
Currently, they’re given mostly for lifetime achievements or to specific projects, but, honestly, even the Oscars are more thorough. At least, by the end of that ceremony, almost every part of movie production has been honoured. This has never been the case in architecture, so let’s consider new kinds of awards and methodologies of merit. Perhaps we need awards for the most reused brick or the most valuable intern; for the bravest client or the smartest budget. Or we may need awards that are given only to temporary groups, to promising concepts, or to new laws. Maybe truly future-focused awards must plan their own obsolescence?
How to: reward and punish will survey and taxonomize the circus of contemporary architectural “meritocracy”, consider the origins and transformations of the most important awards and how they came to be that way, explore how awards reinforce structural inequalities through systems of selection and judgement, favoritism, and exclusion, and find different approaches to funding prizes, selecting and taming jurors, and other themes, which will be developed with the participants.
How to is a series of intense annual residencies that bring small teams together at CCA to produce a new tool—which can be physical, digital, or somewhere in between—and rapidly begin to address a specific opportunity or need. For the 2018 workshop, please visit How to: not make an architecture magazine, and How to: disturb the public for the 2019 workshop.
How to: reward and punish is directed by Lev Bratishenko, Curator, Public, CCA, with writer and editor George Kafka.
How to apply
Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with a short text (around 400 words) on an award that you think architecture needs and how it should be awarded, and a CV. The deadline has been extended to 15 May 2020.
The workshop is free. It is currently scheduled to begin on 26 July and ends on 1 August 2020, and is a full-time commitment during the week. However, given current circumstances, the dates are subject to change. The workshop normally takes place in Montréal, but in 2020 it may take place online if the CCA building’s temporary closure extends through the summer. Upon notifying selected participants, we will confirm the workshop dates and format. If we meet in Montréal, participants can request to have travel and/or accommodation costs partially reimbursed.
The primary language of the week will be English, but all are welcome. You definitely don’t have to agree with everything in this call to be selected as a participant.
Sign up to get news from us
Thank you for signing up. You'll begin to receive emails from us shortly.
We’re not able to update your preferences at the moment. Please try again later.
You’ve already subscribed with this email address. If you’d like to subscribe with another, please try again.
This email was permanently deleted from our database. If you’d like to resubscribe with this email, please contact us
Please complete the form below to buy:
[Title of the book, authors]
ISBN: [ISBN of the book]
Price [Price of book]
Thank you for placing an order. We will contact you shortly.
We’re not able to process your request at the moment. Please try again later.