The public face of architecture is communicated through images which flatten a complex practice and lead to confusion about what architects actually do. A limited understanding of how architecture really works also limits the ways that architecture could work differently.
Architects operate through networks of influence, endless negotiations, subtle manipulations of clients and regulators, and other complex and grubby work. All the associated cunning and intelligence of these practices are hidden by a focus on beautiful images. Money is a particularly uncomfortable topic, and conveniently, the flows of capital do not photograph well. But when financial relationships are understood to be at the core of many contemporary problems in architecture and in society, the difficult-to-represent cannot be ignored.
The more successful architects are, the more consistently they can narrate their practice in conceptual terms and with beautiful images, and the less they speak about money or reveal how external forces affect them. The evidence for this influence is found in ordinary documents: contracts, budgets, estimates, SMS and chat messages, research and administrative files, which aren’t usually included in lectures because they appear banal and “unarchitectural.” They aren’t pretty.
So we invited five contemporary practices active in different contexts and at different scales of project and budget to present their work through the documents they would normally not show. Each practice is also joined by a special guest: one of their clients.
Video premieres with online chat
December 17: Wolff Architects (Cape Town)
January 28: KOSMOS Architects (Basel/Zurich/Moscow)
February 25: Al Borde (Quito)
March 11: People’s Architecture Office (Beijing/Boston)
March 25: NOW (Helsinki)
1 April: Let’s Talk after the Performance
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