While I always felt architecture should surpass the purely functional and aesthetic, this idea became stronger over the years. (more…)
for I have sinned.
I have sinned of straight lines and flat roofs.
I have sinned of strip windows and free plan.
I have sinned of taking this discipline far too seriously, when everyone else around me just isn’t.
I have sinned of spending the night at the office, of staying in front of a screen for weeks,
of not speaking to anybody. I have sinned because I had a complicate relationship with a layer in Photoshop.
I have sinned of thinking the salvation of this world relies on our mice, on our shared folders and 3D models. I thought the key to success was somewhere in the server.
I have sinned because I gave up on my civil rights for the sake of design thinking that, one day, it will pay back, with credits.
I have sinned of missing the opportunity of living, because I had to find the right gradient between two hatches. Their transparency was also one of my concerns.
I have sinned of granting authority to self appointed prophets of the idea, of believing they were smart, when all they did was filling the room with their voice. (more…)
Fundamentals are necessary.
Fundamentals are all an architect needs and can afford.
Fundamentals are not cool, they are cold and hard like the floor.
They are a mattress on that floor, a laptop on the mattress and a bottle of brown liquid, easy access to inspiration, cure to insomnia and, if you keep the empty, meter of your career.
Everything else is accessible thanks to the little hands that assembled the screen, virtual friendships, knowledge, entertainment for a monthly fee and home delivered meals.
Fundamental is to be light at heart and belongings, to pack quickly, to go to goodbye parties more than lectures, to write down passwords and to speak another language.
Fundamental is a degree, just as fundamental was the horse, before the invention of the motor.
Fundamental is your battery charger.
The elevator got stuck between the 32nd and the 33rd floor.
35 minutes had already passed. A voice from the speakers said that the personnel was sorry for the inconvenience and that he had just to keep calm and to kindly wait until the technicians would have fixed the problem, there was nothing to worry about, “you-are-safe-sir”. There was a little beep and then the music started over again: it was a never ending loop of three Celine Dion’s songs of which he was unintentionally memorizing part of the lyrics.
The elevator was one of those glass capsule designed in the 80s, with a dark gray moquette and some blue light spots in the false ceiling. From there he could look at the city skyline and at the little white sails randomly scattered between the island and the cost of the hazy bay.The air-conditioning system had stopped working with the black-out and it was starting to get warmer. He unknotted the tie and he sat on the floor looking down at the people walking on the sidewalks and at the cars starting and stopping at the crossroad. He could also see his fixie, that he had locked in front of the starbucks at the corner of the street. He was happy that it was still there.
His iPhone started vibrating in his pocket, it was his mother. He waited a bit, staring at the screen, then he decided to answer:
When Francois Roche was invited to make an exhibition and give a lecture at Sci-Arc, here is what he replied:
I have no other way than to cancel the Sci-Arc exhibition in the Gallery (scheduled in May 25) and the lecture (scheduled the April 6 – 2011)
The gap of point of view, and the lack of interest for politics and attitude, reducing the architecture process to a unique design agenda cannot fit with our scenario of production and scenario of speeches.
Our works and attitudes are toxic, animal, dangerous, regressive, politic and computational.
Architecture is mainly an affair of resistance and self-defense, against hypocrisies and “in”voluntary servitude, to quote La Boetie. It cannot be reduced to a design goal, exclusively dedicated and trapped by tooling. I disagree on the way the knowledge is framed by and for predictable professional, without any potential to corrupt and desalienate through educational procedures the “coming out” of neoplagiarism and neocopism, which remind me the Beaux Art symptom and syndrome. I ‘m French and know perfectly the stickiness of this sliperring addiction.
I just want to precise that this voluntary abandon, cannot be understood as a “tantrum or capriccio” against the Sci-arc students pool, but it is at the level of Sci-Arc staff arrogances and ignorances, which seems to shrink architecture purpose to a simple affair of design agenda.
F Roche /
PS Speaking and writing are done, here, in my Frenchglish dialect / I let you the opportunity to translate it in the Shakespeare “mayonnaise”.
‘Did he get enough of paying you already?’ she struck me cynically, as she always did.
Like the time when I received a Christmas present from the office where I spent my summer internship. Contemplating it under the tree for a few days before Christmas’ Eve already filled me with satisfaction as a symbol of my undoubtedly fundamental contribution to the work of the office for that year. Unwrapping it, I had a rush of joy: it was a notebook by the well-known brand! My excitement quickly subsided when I noticed my mum was shaking her head in disapproval. Her words that time were less sarcastic and, maybe because of the festive atmosphere, acquired a morally solemn tone: ‘They should be ashamed.’
Later I did the maths and, as it turned out, my mother was right. Assuming that, because of my poor professional skills, I got paid just half the hourly wage of a newly graduate (those days they used to be paid), for my 225 hours of work I should have earned something around 1000 euro. I felt ashamed too but, back then, my favourite currency was ECTS. So was called the system of credits in use all over Europe to standardize the amount of time necessary to successfully complete any academic career. Courses, lectures, workshops, study trips and also internships were packaged in credits each worth 25 hours of study or work.
The 9 credits earned through my internship looked like a great reward at the end of the sacrificed summer, as they allowed me to leave for Erasmus with the near certainty of being able to get my bachelor degree by the end of the academic year. After just three months, I was holding in my hands a (probably recycled) present worth 1% of the value of the work I had done: it didn’t look so great anymore.
This is when I resolved to never work for free again, at least for money making businesses.
Resulting from a previous collaboration, we found ourselves with some high quality prints promoting our very own MultitudeFilmFestival We then had to make a choice: Keep them rolled up along with the poster of Iggy Pop and Tom Waits having coffee, or stick them to the wall right in the hearth of Rotterdam´s creative headquarter.
14th International architecture exhibition La Biennale di Venezia.
“It will be a Biennale of architecture and not architects”. Such a statement was released many times, as if to suggest that for this Biennale edition the architect’s ego will be left elsewhere.
Another word that is so common to us that we tend to stop questioning its meaning, is exchange. We use the principle of exchange daily, whenever we buy something: you give me an object, and I give you the agreed upon amount of money in return. In doing so, I’ve got the object I desire, and you’ve got yourself a financial compensation which should be, according to classical economic principles, equal to the value of the object that is now in my possession. ‘Nothing is more basic to the functioning of capitalist society than the elemental transaction in which we acquire a certain quantity of use value in return for a certain sum of money’. 1 (more…)
Even though most of us engage in economic activities on a daily basis, few of us actually understand the system.
Of course, since the global crisis we’ve seen a lot of publications on the failures of capitalism and how we could repair, improve, and perhaps replace it. But before thinking about what could be changed in order to improve upon the current conditions, we have to understand how our current economic system actually works.
And while we’re all taught the neoclassical understanding of economics from primary school onwards, to me it seems few of us actually posses the knowledge to critically assess its shortcomings. In an attempt to facilitate such an assessment, I try to clarify some of the main principles in the current economic system. (more…)
In that unbearable, unorganized, but dramatically beautiful city, that is Venice, a libertine spirit hovers in the squares and aisles! People feel freedom before the claustrophobia takes over. Parties, fancy dresses, some showing off, inaudible speeches, unreachable drinks, inaccessible pavilions…
What is clear to me after this Biennale, is just one aspect! The end of architecture!
The Central Pavilion, showing the elements of architecture, is so redundant and overwhelming, that distributes an apparently acritical content, which is, in reality, the most critical of all. It says: “we are done!” Technology, comfort, security, engineering, sustainability, all these topics are taking over. Architecture is a discipline that has always struggled in defining itself, probably as much as philosophy did in the past; nowadays, architecture is obliterated by an infinite array of technical subjects. Nowadays, we are living in the time of “plasterboard architecture!”
So, what all those people in Venice were really doing?! Are they conscious of how much endangered is such a discipline and profession?! Architecture is no longer a relevant social matter anymore; governments are not participatory as in the 60s.
600 years ago, families such as the Medici were using architecture and art to express their power. Once more, right now, architecture is becoming the play tool of few rich people, since all the rest that concerns buildings and city planning is a mere technical issue.
This is what happens when the curve of modernity starts to go downward.
…yes, I have been quite cynical!