Try as we might to inure ourselves to the opinions of others, recognition is a powerful thing. It brings with it a captive (and expectant) audience, not just of admirers but of kingmakers - or, cynically, those who see an opportunity to capitalize. For architects, this can be both a blessing and a curse. Many practices start with the motivation to pursue an idea or concept; as recognition becomes diluted to labels it becomes harder to understand what was distinguishing in the first place. This week saw the announcements of a numerous significant awards - and an interview with a practice determined to shake off the labels that come with recognition. Read on for this week’s review.
RIBA announced their four finalists for their International Prize. A biennial award open to any qualified architect in the world, the International Prize seeks to name the world’s “most inspirational and significant” building. This year’s shortlist included works from O’Donnell Tuomey, Aleph Zero + Rosenbaum, Nikken Sekkei, and Boeri Studio.
Alejandro Aravena was also named the recipient of RIBA’s 2018 Charles Jencks Award, a prize founded to recognise both built and theoretical prowess in architecture. Aravena, who shot to worldwide fame in 2016 when he was simultaneously awarded the Pritzker and curated the Venice Biennale, has dedicated his career to socially-geared works primarily in his home country of Chile.
“We don’t think of ourselves as artists. Architects like to build things that are unique. But if something is unique it can’t be repeated, so in terms of it serving many people in many places, the value is close to zero.”
Shaking off Labels
Aravena has long been known for his resistance to labels - indeed, even his Jencks Award citation mentions his skepticality of architecture as a model for other types of development. But he wasn’t the only celebrated architect to speak of this kid of resistance. Liz Diller and Ricardo Scofidio in an interview with Vladimir Belogolovsky spoke of their desire to make their own reputation: “We do everything differently. We think differently. We are still not a part of any system or any group.”
Recognition these days need not come from an organised body, but can instead come from “the people.” Instagram has increasingly proved to be an invaluable tool for architects to share their work, ideas, and perspectives. We gathered a list of 50 (plus five) valuable instagram feeds, looking at emerging offices, university accounts, and aggregator platforms for inspiration.
But perhaps the most lasting and essential form of recognition comes from books. Reaching across generations and translated to reach across oceans, books offer architects and theorists the opportunity to share their perspectives in their own words. This week ArchDaily’s editors worked together to shared the 100+ books we consider essential to the architect’s bookshelf. Titles range from the classic (SMLXL) to the underappreciated (The Destruction of Memory); from the practical (Neufert Architect’s Data) to the frivolous (The Architecture of the Cocktail.) Even if you’re not much of a reader, it’s good gift inspiration.