For centuries, faith has been a source of immeasurable blessings as well as uncountable catastrophes. People, no matter how different, have always felt protected under the aegis of a common belief and united to accomplish the unthinkable. But its fruitful potentials are only equal to its destructive dangers. Faith can be the most untameable of fires, and with the promise for righteousness or virtue it can tear families apart, close down borders, promote genocide, foster war.
In an architectural context, faith has always entailed spiritual as well as secular notions of moral belief. Beyond the architectural legacy of eminent temples left behind by the Greeks and Romans, and beyond the iconic Gothic and Baroque cathedrals that stand proudly in so many cities today, we can also look back on Albert Speer's Totalitarian architecture of the Third Reich to begin to place 'faith' in a wider social, political and spatial context. Similarly, Modernism was grounded on the conviction that architecture should be faithful to its time and that buildings must ultimately convey honesty and openness, while the International Style dictated that form must follow function. Therefore, faith, in architecture, implies historical and temporal shifts in conviction regarding ethics, aesthetics, collective acceptance and ultimately operative legitimisation.
When architecture fails to reward our trust, it can disappoint its people, alienate its public and empty its cities. Faith can too easily become a fossilised creed—as it arguably happened with some of those supposedly eternal principles of Modernism. With confidence comes cynicism, with validation comes scepticism, with acceptance comes disbelief. So at what point do inspiring and everlasting morals turn into inescapable dogmas carved into old stones? Can we still afford a fresh reliance on architects without them turning into shepherds and us into sheep and lambs? As younger generations of designers stop worshiping the architecture 'gods' that came before them, who or what do we put our faith in?
We live in a time with a lack of clarity, led by architects serving and surfing the system yet pretending to be out of it. Like in religion, we perceive an overtone of humility, when in reality, we have to wonder if everyone is just playing by the current rules. In a zeitgeist that is predominantly and seemingly torn between an architecture of form versus an architecture of social responsibility/ engagement, what other spirits of architectural practice and theory are emerging? And might we place our faith in them instead? In our search for something to believe in, what ideas and which people get excluded from our faiths? Might a look back on the past help us find our north? In 21st Century architectural discourse, where does our faith lie?
The fifth issue of LOBBY aims at a critical reflection on the theme of 'Faith' as a fervent drive, a dangerous doctrine, a beautifully fragile yet enduring construct, an unapologetic excuse, a desperate call for attention and a timely consideration on architectural responsibility.
* We highly encourage submissions from our vast and varied international audience in the form of essays, articles, designs, architecture, photographs, illustrations, drawings, sculptures, installations, poems and other relevant mediums.
All entries must be emailed to submissions[AT]bartlettlobby[DOT]com no later than the 8th July 2016, along with our submission form which can be downloaded here.
TitleCall for Submissions: LOBBY No.5 – "Faith"
TypeCall for Submissions
Submission Deadline08/07/2016 23:30
VenueBartlett School of Architecture