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Architecture Follows People | Space Writing

Architecture Follows People


By Ziad Aazam / Saturday, 12th June 2010 / Architectural Theory, Architecture, Community, Critical Thinking / 49 Comments /

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(http://spacewriting.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/edward-6.jpg) Image Source: http://www.feeldesain.com/architectural-people.html (http://www.feeldesain.com/architectural-people.html) Wealth, in todays world, is not only monetary-based but also knowledge-based. According to Alvin Toffler in Revolutionary Wealth (2006, page 23): If the First Wave wealth system was chiefly based on growing things [agrarian], and the Second Wave on making things [industrial], the Third Wave wealth system is increasingly based on serving, thinking, knowing and experiencing. Todays Architecture has lost its vision. Knowledge-based wealth will restore it. Educational system has created fragmented specialisations of what is a continuous entity consisting of built form and partitioned space. Professionals perceive and conceive this artefact we call built environment from isolated platforms as urban planners, architects, building scientists, landscape architects, interior designers, engineers, developers, investors and politicians. The result is shown in the lived built environment that we can critically describe as fragmented, selfish, greedy, whimsical, eccentric, deconstructed, disjointed, exclusive, biased, inhuman, gigantic, monstrous, irresponsible, hype, ostentatious, erratic, alienating and egocentric. Architectural education and practice have fostered a search for geniuses in individuals ego rather than in collective responsibility. The result is reflected in narrow self-referential scope of beauty and expression rather than in broader inclusive process of a whole life performance. In the name of invention, function has expanded to make scientific-based buildings perform like machines full of gadgets and functionality, where form has to follow and people are a secondary concern. In the name of innovation, form has been peeled off of its body producing a skin-deep architecture, where function has to follow and people are a secondary concern. In the name of progress, the architecture of people by the people has been presented as old, vernacular, unfitting, traditional, outdated and unlivable, where the case for a progressive look at the past has been lost. Function and form have won the battle.

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The knowledge-based wealth system of today cannot be based on fragmented specialisations, cannot radiate from egocentricity, or strive on divided scientific and artistic intentions. The knowledge-based wealth will be created by the people, for the people who converge on a unified knowledge front with a collective responsibility stemmed from understanding the past to illuminate the future. Knowledge-based wealth follows people. The architecture of today needs to be architecture of resistance to fragmentation, architecture of unity within diversity, and architecture that serves the People of today and tomorrow, where Function and Form should be subservient. Architecture follows people. Debate if you claim otherwise! 2010 Dr. Ziad Aazam You may also read: http://spacewriting.wordpress.com/2008/06/19/architecture-followspeople/ (http://spacewriting.wordpress.com/2008/06/19/architecture-follows-people/) Tags: Architecture (http://spacewriting.wordpress.com/tag/architecture/), Form (http://spacewriting.wordpress.com/tag/form/), Function (http://spacewriting.wordpress.com/tag/function/), People (http://spacewriting.wordpress.com/tag/people/), Wealth (http://spacewriting.wordpress.com/tag/wealth/)

49 Comments
1. reda sijiny Monday, 14th June 2010 at 11:21 am (Edit) Reply Azizi Dr. Ziad, I couldnt help note the timing of the Alejandro Aravena article, and how it coincides with what you have expressed in yesterdays e-mail. The parts I tried to highlight in the article seem to compliment your thoughts and opinions below. I would like to think we are at least on the same boat. I would just like to make a feeble contribution by picking a few quotes from the article that I felt as if you were on the same discussion table during that interview. From Gold mines & Time bombs. A strategic mind: Alejandro Aravena. DAMn Magazine, issue 21, April-May 2009. p. 54-60: It was the birth of postmodernism: a self-referential system with its own internal logic. This is the typical architectural discussion that interests architects. The price paid by our discipline, though, for this degree of freedom was irrelevancy. What we are seeing today is that architects have realized that they are not being asked to participate in any relevant
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Architecture Follows People | Space Writing

issues, whether in relation to the construction of cities or even questions of development, poverty, economic growth, etc. The professions that determine the form of the city are not sexy, so the best minds go elsewhere, they look for other terrains in which to discuss the relevant matters of the world and answer the challenges set out by society. So, when architects who wanted artistic freedom found that they were becoming socially irrelevant, they employed an alternative: the shock strategy. They acted as if they were relevant by substituting impact for relevancy. What many of the stars of contemporary architecture try to do is to shock, leaving behind a smoke screen to disguise the fact that what they are doing has no relevance. The other path that started to emerge was exactly the opposite: addressing the transversal questions that were relevant to the whole of society. The problem was that, in order to achieve this in practice, those who dedicated themselves to these matters stopped being architects. Those who got involved with the slums, marginality, and urban poverty were transformed into urban economists, urban sociologists When I say they stopped being architects, I mean that they mainly abandoned the architectural project as a synthetic means to act upon the real world. The challenge for our profession is to take part in the transversal and day-to-day questions relat-ed to development, poverty, security.. .And contribute to those broad questions with the specific knowledge of the architect, which is of the strategic use of form; a use of form that has to be verified outside of its own referential system and outside our trade. To have a real impact you have to get involved in discussions with mayors, finance ministers, World Bank agents-and if they accept your numbers and proposals, then you can have a serious discussion. 0 0 i Rate This 2. Dr Ziad Aazam Monday, 14th June 2010 at 12:09 pm (Edit) Reply Dear Reda, Thank you for this exchange of valuable thoughts and the real effort to bring important text to the fore. I have been thinking along these lines since the start of my PhD research. The initial phase was the shift from Cornells form and context to The Bartletts space and society. This phase was not easy, as I had to learn new terminologies, theories and methods to understand living traditions spatially. The second phase was complete involvement in spatial analysis, so form subsided. Then came the current phase where I came full circle and united with form again. I wrote the first Architecture Follows People (http://spacewriting.wordpress.com/2008/06/19/architecture-follows-people/) in 2008. Recently, someone said to me based on their experience with architects that the only thing
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we, architects, care about is beauty of the form; we dont care about people, operation and maintenance, etc. My reply was that that was in the old days, todays architects care about these things. Yet, I only know a few who care and I am not sure if this is a mainstream concern. It hit me then that we need to establish a common ground of concern that come full circle. We dont deny our urge to creativity but we need to establish priority that elevate People as a main concern and from which all other concerns follow: beautiful buildings, intelligent buildings, Green buildings, etc. This is a fundamental shift in perception that triggers a different approach, mentality, attitude, concern, sense of responsibility, higher objective, etc; the ingredients that strong cultures and civilizations are made of. This issue, in my opinion, is not only local for Jeddah or the Gulf, but it is global. I have been writing about this for some time now. The more I see new work by star architects and read comments by sensible architects the more I consolidate my thoughts about this. Your input and the thoughts and work of Alejandro Aravena is further confirmation to this. Note how these ideas are coming from places with real struggle for appropriate built communities such as Chile (Alejandro Aravena), Egypt (Hassan Fathy), Jeddah (us), Third World (architects who care about poor for humanitarian concern, etc.), etc. However, the elevation of the Peoples status is not the same approach as Hassan Fathys concern for the poor; although it can be part of this humanitarian concern. The People here are you, me, we and us; rich and poor. This concern is not going to be raised by developed world except for tweaking purposes and in an extremely specialized way the like produced by building sciences; star architects are too busy to make that artistic signature takes shape before media interviews. It is not going to be raised by the rich and profit for profit sake seekers. It is not going to be raised in non-democratic milieus. There will never be a topdown rescue; it needs to grow from the grassroots. This weekend, I watched Thom Mayne on TED. Some of the comments made me realise that some architects who had similar education like ours have reached the same conclusion we have but they have no cause to bring this to the fore, like we do. Yet, this is the form of education and leads we all have available and accessible as bases for our education and practice. Scan our glossy books and magazines whether you are in Los Angeles, London. Cairo, Jeddah, Tehran, Shanghai, or Tokyo to reach the same conclusion that there is something fundamentally wrong in the way we teach and practice built community and environment locally and globally: http://www.ted.com/talks/thom_mayne_on_architecture_as_connection.html Regards. Ziad 1 0 i Rate This 3. Pingback: Architecture Follows People Space Writing (Edit)
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