esmaspäev, 10. märts 2014

Experiments in XL and the Ethics of Architecture

Just watched a recent lecture by Wolf D. Prix. It raised doubts and provoked some thoughts about the ethics of large-scale architectural experiments.

Experimental architecture in its conceptual, abstract form, as an idea, might be super inspiring, but there seems to be something inherently wrong about those concepts getting built as large-scale projects. Those doubts might have to do with ecological or humanitarian consequences, but my feel of unease is here more related to architect’s own consciousness and his/her personal motivations.

Isn’t it so that the passion about architectural concepts should be the driving force, and not the desire to simply get them built? Aren’t theory and ideas more important than their realisation in practice? And isn’t it so that people/society, not the experimental idea itself, should be the driving force behind large-scale projects intended to be built? It seems to me that at the very moment the architect's desire to develop an experimental idea loses ground to the desire of getting it materialised, he/she enters a sphere of dubious ethics.

The question of scale and materiality are more relevant than ever before, but the materiality of spatial concepts gets debauched at a certain point on the scale from S to XL. Though I find Prix inspiring, it feels so wrong to speak about energy-facades or social program in case of super-expensive large-scale projects, the clients of which are corporations, private developers, authoritarian governments or other similar, high-profile institutions.

I’m not saying that big buildings and urban environments designed by experimentally oriented architects shouldn’t be built at all. I'd just like to indicate that there are ethical matters, which need to be faced. And as to the larger audience, if we see experimental architects as carriers and developers of architectural culture, isn't it our task to remind them that some things are better left on paper?