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is this the case? : "backlash against the commercial tide among some students and young practices"

In a recent article in RIBA's Journal entitled "No stars in our eyes", Zoe Berman comments that graduate architectural students and many practicing architects "are keen to question the dominant commercial paradigm and the ‘architect as superstar’ typecast."
And that,
"There appears to be a backlash against the commercial tide among some students and young practices, who are recoiling from projects that as a priority seek to satisfy corporate end-goals. Students have a growing preference to immerse ourselves in work that is local, small scale and brief specific, which allows us to pursue our personal ideals as to what architecture should be."
Is this the case, and if it is, what do you think is preventing us from producing work that has 'larger' community value? 
According to Zoe, the answer could lay in our education..., 
"If, after three years’ study, we emerge with the ability to question rather than accept, debate rather than meekly receive, then our universities will have done their job. After all, architectural progress surely relies on our eagerness to challenge and to question. "
"We cannot practise architecture without having seen, smelt and touched much of it hands-on."
Personally could not agree more with Zoe... What do you think? Are we really seeing a backlash, is it the same everywhere?
Find this article: RIBA Journal, May 2008, "No stars in our eyes"


  • edited 2:15PM
    yeah, i'd agree with that sentiment (haven't read the article - too busy) but i think it's a common feeling across the board with younger people anyway (advertisers and marketers have known this for a while now). it's all based in the "lack of community/purpose etc" thing that gen y feels. we don't like corporations trying to sell to us and we don't like the idea that we have been figured out (sounds like every new generation actually...).
    i for one know that i prefer working on smaller, more personal projects than on big ones, where emotions and a person's life takes precedence over making a statement to consumers and fitting in with the accountant.
    i'm not full bottle on this topic, but that's my 2 cents worth, in answer to your question, beatriz.
  • edited October 2008
    as a young architecture student i sometimes wonder what the point of pursuing a creative, morally & academically sound design agenda is when it's the actual choice of projects that define what you believe in.
  • edited 2:15PM
    that reads as extremely self-righteous..meh
  • edited 2:15PM
    Dav, Andrew, I agree with your comments. I wonder whether apart from choosing the projects--which is almost impossible when working for a firm--it is possible today to work on different aspects of architecture. For example in development... who says that the only way you can be creative is through designing new tall and shiny buildings?
    I wonder whether we are given the word ‘creativity’ a too narrow application. Can we for instance value the creativity of re-designing a playground, next to the school and the market (space rather than form)?  These are typical projects in which architects in other countries are involved (most times)... I think we are missing on these. Also when dealing with a community with different interests and social expectations that are different to our own… for instance when they associate concrete blocks to status.
    I see a lot of interest in pro bono these days and this is now coming from large firms like Grocon and Hayball. However, I am very involved in this type of work and my reading of the situation may no correlate to the wider reality in this regard.    
  • edited 2:15PM
    "Can we for instance value the creativity of re-designing a playground, next to the school and the market (space rather than form)? These are typical projects in which architects in other countries are involved (most times)... I think we are missing on these"

    if the public has a narrow understanding of the role of architects, and subsequently the 'creativity' that they offer, then yes all they will be hired for is new tall shiny buildings with limited understandings of creativity.

    so it becomes difficult for architects to create such projects that offer a poetic and subtle consideration of public space when the client doesn't exist.

    or is it more simply that architects don't value such projects, instead designing with a magazine image in mind? (that seems the case at the baby-boomer practice i'm an intern at)
  • edited 2:15PM
    I tend to think that it is "all of the above". Our schools produce architects with a narrow view of what architecture can deliver, and an even narrower view of who the clients may be (around 10% of our society). So, no wonder why the public (us too as part of that public) has a narrow view of what architects do--they see very little architecture in the larger metropolitan Melbourne for example, where about 80% of the city has little or no architectural intervention (Rowville, Pakenham, Whitlesea, Epping... ...). Unfortunately again, the role of architects in the design of the city is limited, largely due to our narrow education which focuses on form at the exclusion of other important considerations--people for example.
    I think you are right about the magazine image... and within that frame of mind Epping is not very photogenic to this end.
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