Messing with Architects

I’ve just read a book review titled Messing with Philosophy – AFR 24 aug 12, where Michael Roth states “today we favour discussion over a definitive truth”.

By way of background, he refers to Carlin Romano, a critic for the Philadelphia inquirer who tells of how American Philosophy went down the path of absolute truths, and in this pursuit, became more and more detached from the everyday concerns of just about everybody else…

I see parallels in Architecture.

Designing places, buildings, and new environment is a pursuit of perfection in Architecture. A pursuit for the right answer. The fear of getting it wrong haunts the profession, as the inevitable letdown when it is not as good as it could be, is left in full sight for centuries to come. A previous employer of mine used to quip on many occasions that “at least doctors get to bury their mistakes”, in his relentless pursuit and unease of the never never holy grail of design excellence.

As I look around at our modern cities, even our old cities, I often muse to myself, ” there’s an experiment that went horribly wrong”. as if to make it OK. Is this justification? Or ownership?

A pursuit of absolute truths, would suggest i am justifying what I see.

A pursuit of discourse, I realize, is simply that. A discussion where I own my view I so often conceal from everybody else. And this i learn is ok. It is my truth. If only for that moment.

In modern society, life has gotten messier says Roth, not purer or more truthful.

So life itself lies in the conversation, in the meaning, not in the subject. For an architect, this is strangely powerful.

So that brings me around to another conversation I’ve been having lately about the teachings of Martial Ferber. Whilst I’ve not read any of his works, it would seem that as long as we are continuously moving towards perfection, rather than beating ourselves up over not attaining it, we are deeply entrenched in design as conversation.

And if we can bring in everyone else to this conversation, it well be messy, but powerful.



One thought on “Messing with Architects

  1. What is wrong with making mistakes these days? I read recently that this endless pursuit to get everything right actually supresses innovation and opportunity. As you say “the fear of getting it wrong haunts the profession”. This applies across the sector generally and it is a shame. Imagine all the good things that are being crossed off the list. Good jotting mate.

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