Showing posts with label SABA Manifestos. Show all posts
Showing posts with label SABA Manifestos. Show all posts


Manifesto for Free Architecture

(first published on 14 August 2012)

Free Architecture is architecture made for Free. Free architecture is made by free architects, by architects who works for free.

In fact, this is not a new idea. Most of the architects work most of their time for free. When they are young, they work as apprentices and interns; when they grow up, not only they work for free but they even invest huge amount of money on lost competition entries and phantom projects. In any international competition, for only one winning project (and one paid architect) there would be dozens and sometime hundreds of architectural offices who worked for free and very often even pay (collaborators, consultants, models, 3d animation, and that besides the admittance fees and the price paid for the program pdf file) for the privilege to work for free. 
That may represent efforts of a much larger number of young people that over-worked themselves for months, days and nights, for the only sake of satisfying one's - not always their - ambition to be chosen to be paid for his work. In some cases, doing free architecture for lost competitions became a specialty of certain practices. Financially, sometimes the winners should not be envied neither, as the winning project only enables the office to lose more money for a longer period of time. 
Free work is of course done massively on a daily basis in any private architectural practice in order to get new clients or to keep the old ones.

The actual economical regime of architecture is governed by the idea of an architectural paid practice but in reality enslaves so many talented professionals and make them work for free at the service of the ones who promise that they can afford to build (and therefore to make them work for free). Never in the history of architecture so many architects have been working so hard, doing so much unnecessary work  for so few and sometimes even ill-interested people and very often for no-one. In other words, most of the architectural work that is being done today is done for nothing.
This had disastrous effects on the morality of the architect and on his position as a social actor. Hoping to be paid, he cannot speak for himself anymore nor for the public, but for the one who pays. An architect's word is today as trustworthy as that of a lawyer or a businessman. This regime has been corrupting the whole profession as a social body turning it into a vain, ridiculous star-system and is actually corrupting the whole environment all over the world, populating it with a mass of empty, expensive and useless "landmarks".

This regime has also decreased the number of people that are served today by architecture. If the architects work only for the few happy ones that can pay or that can say that they can pay, there would be a much greater number of people who even when they are in great need for architecture cannot afford to pay nor to promise to pay an architect and therefore will not be served by architecture. In fact, the vast majority of constructions on earth is done without architects. Today, architecture is a luxury.

The choice is simple: it is between doing architecture for nothing and doing architecture for free. If you can afford doing architecture for nothing, do architecture for free: Do architecture, do not take money.


A brief summary of the afternoon's welcome Manifesto

A Crippled Architect 
“An architect who had never done a building, who never went through the whole process of a building, from scratch to the end of the construction, is a crippled architect. In order not to be crippled, every architect should do this at least once in his career.” Those clever words were said to me by the Israeli architect Avraham Yasky (1927-), formerly my employer and later the protagonist of my second book, while handling me the project that would become my first building. I have always been grateful to him for this.
In 1932, many years before the realization of his first project, Philip Johnson, then a young curator at the MOMA, wrote “Architecture is always a set of actual monuments, not a vague corpus of theory” (The International Style, p. 21).
Architecture has to be realized. It has to be real. You may do many things related to architecture – write, read, study, teach or even practice – but if you have not realized a project, you will be a “crippled architect” according to Yasky, or you may not even call yourself an architect according to Johnson.

Architects and Masons
While any architect can cite Adolf Loos’s famous saying “An architect is a mason who had learned Latin” (“Architecture and Education”), not only Latin, in general, has never been a part of the standard architectural education but more surprisingly masonry too has been almost completely absent from the architectural syllabi.
In fact, since the beginnings of modern architectural education in the mid 19th century, architecture schools all over the western world have chosen to provide the students mainly with representational skills - descriptive geometry during the 19th and the 20th centuries, computer assisted conception and drawing in our times. The syllabi were organized according the notion and the rhythm of the studio project, which is in general and by definition fictitious, speculative and hypothetical: it is acknowledged and understood from the very beginning that the project will remain a project, that it would never be realized or built.

Drawing and Withdrawing
Although architects like to say that they build buildings, they do not actually build. In most cases architects do not build at all; they just sit at their desks, in front of their computers, in their studios, ateliers or offices and design, draw and model buildings.
Practically, the withdrawal of modern times’ architectural practice into representation implies a progressive diminishment of the architect’s responsibility and the delegation or the outsourcing of his traditional tasks to other specialists or professionals. There would be numerous decisions that the architect will no longer have to take, and a considerable amount of information that would be irrelevant for him. More importantly, in the modern distribution of tasks it is taken for granted that there would be someone else to do the hard labor: the architect will not do the masonry.

Construction sites as micro societies
If we will try to understand architecture simply by its means of production, to think of it not only as a set of images but as a part of a social and economical process that takes place within the Real, it would be impossible not to see how the production process of a building reproduces and aggravates the social divisions between white collars (architects) and blue collars (masons, laborers), and how, regardless to our best intentions, our construction sites may appear as social theatres in which one might witness, inflict or suffer the worst of our actual class systems.

So, my dear friends, let us now get down to work and realize our thoughts and ideas with our own bodies and muscles.