The Proust Questionnaire is our new series in which we have well-known architects answer a series of unusual questions. A popular parlor game amongst the Victorian literate class, the questionnaire is believed to reveal the individual's true nature.
For this iteration, we talk with Farshid Moussavi, the highly in-demand British (by way of Iran) architect behind the Museum of Contemporary Art in Cleveland, Ohio, among other notable projects.
Who is your favorite living architect?
Who is your favorite dead architect?
Mies van der Rohe
How would you describe the personality of your practice?
What is your practice's main weakness?
Giving a lot of time to every project, no matter what scale or budget
What is the trait that you appreciate most in a building?
The potential to inspire different forms of response or interaction from those who come to experience it, like a proposition
What is the trait that you deplore most in a building?
Self-referentiality and symbolic gestures such as representation of the architect
What is the trait that you most appreciate in an architect?
The ability to use architecture's core tools creatively to empower people in their daily life
What is the trait that you most deplore in an architect?
Egoism and carelessness
What is your favorite type of project to work on?
The most ordinary, as it is bound to have the biggest potential for change
What does architectural happiness mean?
Happiness is a relative term and different for the end user and its architect.
For the end user, it might be the experience of plenty of light and a wonderful view when reading a book or writing in a library. It might be having access to a bench in an art gallery to be able to view a work of art for an extended time. It might be the discovery that your apartment allows you to knock down internal walls to reconfigure your home. It could be the discovery of privacy in a public toilet cubicle as a result of the toilet partitions extending fully to the floor, rather than raised almost all the way up to your knees!
For the architect: happiness could be seeing people come to embrace a building he or she has designed positively and in ways not even planned. It could be going back to see a building they designed and seeing the positive impact it has made to its context. It could be seeing that a project they have worked on for several years is finally under construction, or finding out that he or she has won a design competition, or a new commission!
What does architectural misery mean?
Many things: a building that is ignorant of its context and uses; a project you have been working on for several years suddenly stops; when competitions are turned into a risk-free exercise…
Where would you most like to build (where you haven’t already)?
Anywhere that transformation is desired
What is your favorite color?
Depending on the context, weather and time, I am drawn to different colors.
What is your favorite flower?
As I don’t have a garden, I prefer the non-flowering types that you can nurture over a long time indoors
What is your favorite bird?
I don’t have one
Who is your favorite poet?
I don’t have one
Who is your favorite artist?
Gerhard Richter, Stephen Gill
When do you lie?
I prefer to say what I think than to lie
What talent would you most like to have?
If there was any talent I would really like to have, I would be working on it already
What architectural strategies do you most overuse?
None. We try to use different ones each time in order to create buildings that articulate their presence vis-à-vis their context and people in different ways, thus prompting unique human experiences
How would you like to die?
I prefer not to think about it
I am pursuing a career in Urban Planning and Design.