Friday, June 6, 2014

THE ARCHITECTURE OF ARCHITECTURE




More and more, everyday, we hear the word ‘architecture’ and ‘architect’ used in an unusual context. Any idea that the Board of Architects of Queensland might be able to manage the use of the word ‘architect’ becomes an incredulous proposition. Even the use of the word ‘architecture’ has implications for the Board as this is seen as what an ‘architect’ does. Such phrases as ‘the architect of Medicare,’ (Australia’s healthcare system), and ‘the architect of Gonski,’ (the review on education in Australia), are common in today’s media discussions on the recently released budget. The word is used in some sense of designer, organizer; overall manager; inventor of the programme; the one who conceived it.



One of the most surprising uses was heard on ABC TV The Drum on 2 June 2014. With the usual bravado and self-certainty of commentators, the male voice blubbed on and on with a degree of self-importance: “. . . arranging the choice architecture so people can make decisions easily . . . .” Just what was this person trying to say? What hope does the Board have in its quest to control the use of language? What is ‘architecture’ here? It looks something like ‘organisation’ - by design, with some preconceived patterning; some unique arrangement or preconception: its ‘architecture.’





Given this sense, one could speak of ‘the architecture of architecture’ and ‘the architecture of architects’. It seems that one could make something of substance out of anything. Consider:
A study of the architecture of architects and their architecture highlights the architecture of this relationship that structures an architecture that reflects both the architecture of the architects’ preferences and the architecture of their preconceptions that develop a complex architecture of ambiguity reflected in the architecture of place arising from the architecture of each architect’s office: their juxtapositions.
Does all language eventually become gobbledygook? Why has ‘architecture’ and ‘architect’ become so fluid, loose, so as to suggest that there might be some real and deeply meaningful sense and relevance in almost any contextual fabrication?




Language is rich and fertile in its adaptations, but are things getting out of control here? Is this free use of the words ‘architect’ and ‘architecture’ diminishing perceptions and understandings of architects and their work? Or is it that these uses of ‘architect’ and ‘architecture’ are only hoping that some prestige and importance might rub off from the referencing of this aloof profession? Perhaps a little of both is involved here, as the profession does not enjoy much respect in the community. Architects are seen as dilettantes who promote their own unique ambitions using other people’s money and lives; in short, they are seen as a waste of time and money; a complete irrelevance.


The only way out of this dilemma is for architects to become more responsive and responsible members of the community. Then their roles and their works may not be so easily transformed into meaningless, stylish grabs that could be inspired by some of today’s architecture that is no more than this itself.



25 JUNE 2014
The odd use of the word 'architecture' continues:
ABC TV 7:00pm News 25 June 2014 - Leader of the Green Party, Christine Milne said:
" . . . support the existing architecture of the Emissions Trading Scheme." The practice appears to be unstoppable. What impact is it really having on the perception of architecture and architects? Unfortunately it does not seem to be useful in any way at all.

30 June 2014
The frequency of the unusual use of the word 'architecture' is increasing. It almost appears to have become a fashion. Kevin Andrews, on ABCTV 7:30 Report, 30 June 2014 said: " . . . come back with an architecture and see if it works." He later expanded on this statement, as if seeking to clarify it: "He'll come back with an architecture, proposals to restructure the system." Kevin Andrews was referring to changes in the disability welfare system.

Later this same evening, on ABCTV Media Watch, in a comparative example, this phrase was used: " . . the architects of the Nazi Holocaust." It seems that the dictionary will have to be modified given this growth in understanding: or is it the growing popularity of a misunderstanding?

5 JULY 2014
And again!
The Weekend Australian headline article reported that: 'Professor Garnaut made a final plea for the government to keep the carbon-pricing architecture in the current scheme.'
We might need a new word for 'architecture' soon. Maybe 'building'?

8 JULY 2014
And yet again!
The Australian, in a story titled 'Hewlett-Packard bets on the Machine of the future.' reports Jim Merritt, HP's Asia-Pacific enterprise services chief as saying: "HP's new Moonshot server already incorporates the new compute core architecture that will go into the Machine."
Does anyone know beyond some vague sense of feel-good relevance what 'architecture' means? Where does this leave architecture?

9 JULY 2014
It is almost becoming a daily event.
On ABC Radio RN, The World Today, 12:15 pm, 9 July 2014, the word was again heard: ". . climate change architecture . . " The use of  'architecture' in this context seems to have gained a general acceptance through its repetition. Just where this leaves architecture is something that will have to be observed and assessed over time. It does not appear to be useful for a profession that is struggling for an 'everyday' recognition and relevance.

8 JANUARY 2015
It was noted that the recording of the usages of ‘architect’ and ‘architecture’ would stop, but this one just had to be jotted down. It is a corker! The words were in a report in The Australian newspaper on 5 November 2014 titled Palmer mine bid rejected:
‘One of Mr. Palmer’s top executives was found to have been an unreliable witness and the architect of “misleading” sworn statements.’
So it seems that one can be the architect of anything good, bad and/or ugly.
What chance does the Board have in what seems like its futile attempt to manage the usage of the word ‘architect,’ especially when it has so much trouble defining the word?

and it continues:
23 NOVEMBER 2015
The Independent reporting on the Paris attacks:
'the Paris apartment where Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the suspected architect of the Paris attacks, was killed along with two other people.'

and again:
24 JANUARY 2017
Asked about China joining the US’s stead Ciobo said the original architecture allowed other countries to join.
ABC Report 24 January 2017 Australia open to China and Indonesia joining TPP after US pulls out.

13 February 2017

"This is a disappointing move. I hope the architects of it clearly understand the ramifications of the decision that they're a party to."  

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