The link between architecture and traditional craft is slowly becoming a thing of a bygone era. Replaced by self organising parametric systems, the role of the architect as a designer is gradually being consumed by digital mechanisms of the virtual world. Firms and offices now inhabit small spaces, where, what was once a thriving workshop has been reduced to a few screens that narrow down a lineage craft into a few algorithms. Utopia or Dystopia? The Drone is becoming the new building contractor, the world Kibwe Tavares envisioned in Robots of Brixton is soon becoming a reality. Fallen into the abyss of its own contradictions; contemporary architecture has become a sporadic movement of eclectic thoughts and innovations that have left no coherence or direction for the future of the profession. In it we walk in with our graduation caps and gowns, blind folded. What do I take with me? -my sketchbook or my laptop? What do I use to represent me? – my flash drive with that digital render or the pencil axonometric on A1 trace paper? Maybe I’ll muscle that humongous vinyl portfolio that sways vigorously in the south westerly wind or should I just copy and paste the link to my newly designed Wix page that I can’t seem to get rid of the water mark on? My thoughts cannot help but ponder, I wonder what Pugin would have thought, whatever his sentiments one thing for sure is, he would not have approved of these solar magnifying, heat enhancing, generic conservatories doing all sorts of structural gymnastics in the modern cityscape. We are left with no option but to embrace ambiguity, we are left with choice but to follow suit and design buildings dependent on a fuel that is about to bring the world to the brink of global warming and war, we are left defenseless, directionless – we are left “destitute of vision”.
Congratulations Alejandro Aravena 2016 Pritzker Laureate- A potent manifestation of what contemporary architecture needs.
By Themba Ben Mtwazi, Stage 3, for Pencraft 2016