So, I just have to say — academic architects? Wow..what a surly bunch. Neil Leach had his hands full fending off the fond-of-their-voices contingent of guests he invited to weigh in on his Interactive Architecture Studio end-of-term presentations. It’s like no one thought for a moment that these are students and it might be worthwhile to start with some constructive, encouraging remarks rather than telling them they need to find the architecture in their work ((whatever the heck that means)), or think hard about building an airport rather designing ((rather thoughtfully and thoroughly)) than an iPhone app ((which one student had)) that might fruitfully refashion how that space is experienced, engaged and manuevered. It’s that kind of dull-witted, regressive, panicky thinking that will make those architects (even more) stodgy, quaint and finally full old-fashioned. There was even serious talk about maintaining the disciplines “expertise” ((good luck)) of understanding how space is occupied. I was at my wits end by the end of it all — and it wasn’t just because some of the 10 guests insisted on interrupting students in the midst of their presentations, or were rude to themselves by interrupting each other without really moving the conversation forward ((i just kept on talking after explaining that i’d finish my thought only louder — and finally found my notebook a bit more intriguing than the wrestling to make some unhelpful, dour remark about how the student hadn’t really accomplished anything)).
And — if that wasn’t enough, in the closing remarks they basically talked to each other. I took a small bit of pride in closing by telling the students to ignore anything about not *doing architecture — they, afterall, are defining what architecture (if it’s called that)) will be if only by virtue of the fact that they are the future of the practice. How many times have the creators of something new and exciting been told to settle down and stick to tradition? Just follow your curiosity. Bend unexpected tools and materials to fit your ideas — and be passionate. Without exception, these students did fantastic forward thinking work and I let them know that in 10-years all the off-putting, dismissive, searching-for-something-critical-to-say remarks will be chuckled at as quaint misperceptions, and naive assumptions of people whose profession is dying, only they can’t quite tell ((that despite the fact that these presentations are symptomatic of big changes in ideas, approaches, motivations and goals.))
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