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John Thackara: The Latest Architecture and News

Why Are Architects Needed? 8 Speakers Give Their Answers During Rising Architecture Week 2017

16:00 - 22 October, 2017

With the objective of developing new solutions to the societal challenges of tomorrow, the RISING Architecture Week 2017—held in Aarhus, Denmark, between the 11th and 15th of September—consisted of a series of events, exhibitions, and the RISING Exchange Conference, focuses on how architecture and construction can help to rethink existing paradigms.

We had the opportunity to visit the city and to talk with Jan Gehl, Pauline Marchetti, Ruth Baumeister, Daan Roosegaarde, John Thackara, Jacques Ferrier, Stephan Petermann, and Shajay Bhooshan, some of the speakers who contributed their visions on these issues. Thinking about a future in which different actors will be relevant in the process of addressing such challenges, we took the opportunity to make them question themselves: Are architects really needed?

Every time you put any brick down anywhere, you manipulate the quality of life of people. (...) If you just make form, it's sculpture. But it becomes architecture if the interaction between form and life is successful.
– Jan Gehl.

Check all their answers in the video above, and see some pictures of their lectures in the Official Facebook of the event.

Ten Ways to Redesign Design Competitions

13:00 - 16 August, 2011
Ten Ways to Redesign Design Competitions, John Thackara, photo by Kristi van Riet via <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/'>Wikimedia</a> Commons
John Thackara, photo by Kristi van Riet via Wikimedia Commons

In his forthright and insightful essay, designer/author/Doors of Perception director John Thackara discusses problems with today’s design completions and offers up some compelling suggestions for change.

Complaints range from moralistic, “competitions are too often staged for wrong or unclear reasons;” to humanistic, “attention is usually focused on the thing rather than on the person or team behind the thing;” to mundane, “there is seldom enough time in the judging process to assess entries adequately.” I assume such complaints are obvious to anyone on the judging-side of the design competition world, and that saying all this out loud might come off as obnoxious, but as a recent architecture school graduate I appreciate Thackara’s full disclosure. Knowledge is power, y’all. Likewise, Thackara’s proposed redesigns range from pragmatic, “get real: Insist on external partners and a live context,” to idealistically postmodern, suggesting competitions “ask entrants to create platforms and contexts in which diverse groups of people may co-design the systems, institutions and processes that shape our daily lives.” As reasonable as the suggestion may be, allusions to leftist, Los Angeles School-style activism might cause some readers to lose interest.