Re: Re: Irish Architecture Awards 2009 – Public choice award
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Concrete boxes with glass anyone?
My god 95% of those are ugly. Wheres the innovation and beauty in building nowadays? Is it all “Lets make a generic box and stick some wood on the side”. God.
When you have such a small community of professionals, some very talented and intelligent people, all working in the same small area as in Ireland, with few real influences from the outside . . . this tends to happen. A design approach takes hold, and unconsciously everyone starts doing that. This wouldn’t happen so much if architects in Ireland could talk to each other. But they are afraid to do that. The pool of clients is so thin on the ground. One millimeter depth, it certainly wouldn’t wet your ankles. The TV programs tried to change the perception, and offer D E S I G N as something mainstream. As something the public could aspire to. Like rural electrification or bottled milk on your doorstep. At one stage, with all the easy credit available, that seemed to be feasible. Soon everyone wanted to dress in a snappy looking ‘third skin’. Architects reaped the benefits of that public perception change. (And credit-driven cash bonaza) But some architects mistook the work they were doing for ‘serious work’. Some architects even began to have notions about themselves. When all they are doing is providing the cash-rich customer with a bit of fun. (Sometimes that client was a public body or a banking institution) Something to get them through mid life in the Celtic Tiger era.
But I shouldn’t mock them too much. The basic hard work in architecture is simply trying to keep a small practice going. For that achievement alone, every architect should get an award I think. Doing the basic things necessary is enough to suck the life blood out of many a hard working architect. Having managed to stay in existence at all, the usual strategy is to rattle out a few drawings quickly before the client changes their mind. The romantic image of the creative person sitting there wrestling with the problem, is an old sales gimmick that architects use to try and lure potential clients. (So it is very easy for architects to start believing their own sales pitch) But the basic task is simply keeping up with one’s work and getting anything at all built at all. There isn’t the opportunity in all of that, for the architect to think about engaging in serious concept exploration. Their future tomorrow might be bankruptcy, and that doesn’t seem very appealing. Better to keep the concepts lightweight, take on more work than you are capable of doing and move as fast as possible, to keep earning.
There isn’t much time to meet with fellow architects and talk about design either. That is what really deflated my bubble about architecture. The education system for architects was preparing you to become that person. You could not fault the education system. It does nothing more than prepare young people for a life they will find ahead of them. It is possible though, that architects should receive special support from the state to enable them to behave more like architects or designers, like their fairy tale image would suggest. Having studied hard as a student of architecture for so long, my observation was the guys who worked the hardest and got it done succeeded. There wasn’t any second prize for creative exploration. The most valuable skill that any architect can possess is good time management. (The female brain can have a distinct advantage here) Passion and flare doesn’t help as much as is commonly believed. You can rise to the top of your profession and work for the best architectural firms in the world, if your personal time management skills are strong. Beyond that, there isn’t much more than you need, out of the ordinary. The best of luck to them I say. They choose a hard road to follow.
Brian O’ Hanlon