#XFORMAS of Doing Architecture (#XFORMAS de Hacer Arquitectura) seems to be as diverse and flexible as the project about which it is written, a project designed under self-imposed rules based on personal questions from its creators, Nicolás Valencia, Fabiola González, and Yair Estay.
They consciously connect their interests biographically with those of their generation, namely: the discrediting of the so-called ‘Starchitect’ figure; the emergence of the American continent together with a new idea of situated practice; the lack of reference to architects who do not design buildings; and the sense that architecture as a degree course defines destiny more according to who the student is as a person than the paths the course itself enables, causing a clash between study and practice. These interests, influenced by the social/cultural changes at the beginning of this century, the political crises, and the declining global economy, have led to critical reflections on the profession. The two parts of this publication, distributed in two separate but complementary books, describe the multiple possibilities of #XFORMAS, its derivatives, and the questions facing the discipline.
Volume I contains three conversations on the main themes that appeared in planning the sessions: Academia, Market, and Practice. In a mashup from the six sessions of #XFORMAS, twenty-four participants from three different countries speak about their ways of doing architecture — different ways, but which all coincide in their search to explore the professional field from many different perspectives, in contrast to the rigid structure and limited possibilities offered by university architecture degree courses.
The volume closes with a conversation between the three project creators that delves into its beginnings and the process developed to date.
Volume II presents five essays by the project team and two guests revolving around the themes that emerged during the #XFORMAS sessions. Valencia gives an account of the origins of the session format and its relationship to performance, theatre, and television while slipping in a critique of traditional architectural events.
González brings the issue of gender parity, one of the formulating rules for the #XFORMAS sessions, to reflect on the instances that have helped make the work of women in architecture visible and those that have perpetuated their invisibility. Estay focuses on the professional field for young architects and how the development of the degree course in universities prior to their working careers promotes their precarious professional situations.
From outside of the project’s core group, Ethel Baraona brings us a manifesto published in 1969 by a group of students from several American universities to establish a series of relationships between civil movements, changes in university education, and new ways of relating that resonate again today and bring into question the role of architecture as a profession. Along with the same lines, but from a more theoretical perspective, Fernando Portal imagines the possibility of achieving other ways of doing architecture by overcoming modern ideology, in search of subaltern, humble forms, outside the corridors of power, that shun a hegemonic vision — new forms that stop chasing the new.
In #XFORMAS of Doing Architecture, the form encompasses what is done and how, generating a project that pays attention to the transformations and deformations of a discipline facing constant change, in which the idea of a Tool Box or Skillset seems to be, for the moment, the most optimistic —and interesting— basis for understanding the profession.
Title#XFORMAS of Doing Architecture
AuthorNicolás Valencia, Fabiola González, Yair Estay