“Architecture is Not Vital”

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On a Facebook status through Hack on triple j there was a discussion surrounding the possible cancelation of funding for art degrees and I decided to see what people were saying. I came across a comment that a lot of professions that used some form of an arts degree and someone commented how ALL those professions weren’t contributing. The discussion continued until I saw the following comments, “I also agree Architecture shouldn’t be funded. Why should not essential items be considered acceptable for subsidy?” and “Architecture is not vital. Architects are just lazy engineers.” I was going to let it go because if someone holds this belief there’s no way to change their mind, however I just had to respond…

…do you think tourists flock to Sydney for science and health or is it to check out the Sydney Opera House, designed by a *GASP* architect? Ever heard of the city Bilbao? Revitalised through architecture, design and arts. If you think architecture is not vital you honestly have zero idea about it.” Yes I got a bit angry, perhaps a bit too defensive but it could be that I take these things to heart as I’ve been studying this for over 6 years now and still going. It could be that I actually have knowledge and experience whereas the commenter could be considered a troll. And more-than-likely, it could be that it’s the final week of design studio and stress levels are high and I’m easily ticked.

Yes Anthony, all which required an engineer to actually come to fruition.” was the commenter’s response. This never was to discredit engineers as I know how important engineers are in architecture. Without engineers we wouldn’t have 99% of architecture, but without architects what jobs would be for engineers? I put this forward to our architect-hating friend…

Oh Anthony I wouldn’t be so sure of that. An Engineer doesn’t need an architect to make a building stand up. But the architect needs an engineer.” and then someone else popped up with “Where’s your logic in no architects means no jobs?
They would literally just hire more engineers to concentrate on the design aspect of the build. All engineers are taught about water flow and traffic movement.” I was in the process of responding then paused and thought ‘if this is their mentality, I’m wasting my time trying to educate them

Those comments were frustrating to read, I can’t even begin to imagine how someone could genuinely believe that architects are not required in this world. Now there are come creative, design-savvy engineers, but a lot of the time it’s a different type of creativeness. Engineers lean more towards mathematics, calculations, physics and what-not. It’s rare (but not unheard of) for engineers to posses the same type of creativity associated with architects. Much the same that architects are usually useless when it comes to structural detailing and calculations, although there would be some exceptions.

As I’m writing this I’m also looking at that comment section and I now believe I was ‘trolled’, but regardless of that there is still a belief that architects and architecture isn’t required. I remember reading or seeing somewhere that only 2% of buildings are designed by architects, and it’s actually not that hard of a figure to understand. All the apartment buildings, houses in the sprawling suburbs, sub-standard commercial towers…. But why aren’t architects used more? The Australian Institute of Architects ran a campaign last year to bring more attention to the public about the importance of an architect but I don’t know how successful it was.

I’m not an architect, just to be clear, and as a student I have this worldly-vision which hasn’t been tainted by the real-world, but architects need to engage with the public more. Architect’s need to educate the public and clear up all the myths and misconceptions typically associated with hiring an architect. But perhaps what’s even more important, architects need to educate the public on why good architecture is required. With the rise of social media, in particular Instagram, architect’s have a strong tool in communicating and engaging with the general public. How that looks exactly, I don’t know.

I don’t think I actually ‘said’ anything in this post, I guess I just wanted an excuse to write words. I think though this is a subject matter that I might revisit in a couple weeks after the stresses of university have subsided. In the meantime, those of you who read my blog know architecture is vital, but any ideas on how we can educate the general public of this? Leave your ideas in the comment section below.

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