Archiphoenix: Faculties for Architecture

2008

The fire that destroyed the building of the Architecture Faculty of Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) in Spring 2007 heralded the end of an era. This faculty had produced architects of international name and fame, staged some of the most incisive debates on major controversies in the discipline, and delivered generations of successful practitioners. The fire seemed to precipitate a new age, giving the architecture community a chance to reposition itself and the opportunity to question whether thinking in terms of ever more buildings is the solution to the issues and demands that we will face in the near future.

 

A few months later, I commissioned Archiphoenix: Faculties for Architecture, designed by STEALTH Unlimited, to turn the Dutch Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2008 into a stage for such explorations and a debate platform focusing on the capacities of architecture beyond building: what territories to explore and what practices to develop as an architect. In short: what are the future prospects for architecture?

Even though architecture is often understood as a discipline that concentrates on building, it remains (for the majority of humanity) the discipline  that separates people through walls or brings them together through openings in those walls. Architecture, as such, either helps people share time and space, or prevents that from happening, and thus is something very different from a solely construction-based vocation. Today, in the wake of robust tendencies that mark our contemporary lives - digitalization, migration, economical globalization and geo-political shifts), dramatic new forms of inhabitation, collectively and human interaction are invented or have emerged. Living disentangles from our material order. Communication is less and less a matter of adjacency. So, maybe we should say that beyond building, architecture most of all organizes lives. Sometimes you need buildings for this, and sometimes you don't.

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