Architectural change in the upcoming period
We architects are like a school of sardines in a shark tank of investors, unfortunately, we have no swarm intelligence. I’m wondering what architecture will look like after the coronavirus pandemic. Will there be a profound change, or will everything continue as before? How should we design places in the future? How should social housing change so that we are better equipped for situations like the present one? For example, we have been demanding for years that no more south-facing apartments are built due to global warming. But builders, investors and architects are continuing to build them unperturbed as if nothing was wrong. The construction industry, in particular, is facing drastic changes that will have not only economic but also, and above all, social consequences. We have submitted two research proposals in Austria, one of which dealt explicitly with the social consequences of the digitization of the construction industry. Both were rejected. It is tragic. If the European construction industry and politics miss out on this development, we are in danger of a rude awakening.
The role of the architect
It has already changed, from architects having great power and esteem in the past, to today’s architects being servants of clients who only have money and money on their minds. Nowadays, we are retreating into a theory that instead of stimulating the development of imaginative, innovative solutions, inhibits them. The intellectual climate of the 1960s was different, and I sometimes think we had it easier because of that. There was no Internet and that had advantages. We read a lot and dealt with the fodder we were given in a very in-depth way. I fear that under the guise of ecology and economy, quite conservative attitudes are creeping in. Regional values appraisal and the use of domestic materials, for example, are not wrong, but the whole thing can quickly tip over into a right-wing, nationalist position. That is why it is important that (young) architects do not take over or execute something without reflection. We must finally understand that sustainability has three pillars: ecology, economy, and social culture.