Advanced Architecture Institute of Catalunya

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    ..."rants" & rethinking

    By MADianito
    Mar 21, '12 3:03 AM EST

    So, i must say in advance, that im very sorry that now that i started again this blog, which has little now to do with a "student blog" it will feel like a big rant in every post...i would really try not to be like that, i also want to let you know i need to do this to let this frustration out of my system....


    This said, i would try to put here in words some thoughts i've been having in my head for the last year and a half, and something that surfaced when trying to explain my girlfriend why I thought was stupid that Zaha Hadid recently gave a lecture at Mexico City (where seems young architects and students were excited to go to, and even cheered and yelled her name in the auditorium... WTF¿?).

    so lets try to organize my thoughts....

    First of all Zaha in Mx City... this just sounded like when for example, Iron Maiden plays at Mexico City...something like "i can't get gigs anywhere else, now i go for latin america), in the case if Miss Hadid is (and this is my very personal opinion, maybe shortsighted of course) is like "no one in the "developed" world wants to hear lectures of Starchitects anymore, so now im going to lecture in Mexico City". In any case, i was telling my girlfriend that i doubt Zaha could say anything vaguely significant to young architects and young mexican architecture students... why? do the math: 

    Born in Baghdad, 1950, Zaha grew up in a well-educated Islamic family oriented toward Western multiculturalism. Her father was an executive and, for a time, the leader of a liberal Iraqi political party. After moving in 72 to London (after the rise of Hussein), and graduating from the AA in 77, she opened her own office in London in 80 winning her first competition "The Peak" in 83.

    Thats 3 years (at least) of supporting an office (electricity, rent, computers, stationery, taxes, salaries, business lunches, deadline dinners, etc) in the city of London (a.k.a. not cheap) without any project. Zaha has no clue how a 3rd world office is run.

    And this leads to the line of thinking i've had the last 1 and a half maybe 2 years... the "cost of architecture" and if that "cost" is actually paid.. ever.

    Just take in consideration what does it take to have an (lets call it "conventional") architecture office: local, tables, chairs, electricity, phones, internet, computers, etc etc etc. Then how many people do you 'use' to develop a project, how many times you have lunch w/the client (not in McDonald's for sure) before him giving you "green light" or even a downpayment, how much gas did you spent to convince him, how many extra hours did you use your architects to finish the concept renderings? etc etc etc.

    So just to not get lost in the line of thinking, there's some phrase by Koolhaas where he compared the resources needed in Europe vs resources needed in China to realize a project, maybe someone reading this knows it better than I, but you get the idea.

    In my experience, most clients dont deserve any extra hour... why do i say that? they still pay you the fee agreed if you don't sleep, if you develop kidney cancer by stress, if you draw everything by free hand or if you actually spent hours of parametrical modelling in order to get your drawings right. At the end the only thing they care of is to see what they pay for built.

    So im wondering, have we architects, become barroque in hour methods and processes and now we think we just need more to achieve what has been achieve for centuries in a simpler way?

    No computers where used to build pyramids... none.

    For a residential project these days (call it a family home), lets think what we 'spend' on it (or 'waste', get apocalyptic i don't mind): mmhh lets think i fast... how many interns you think we need to help w/models early diagrams, and such? 2? ok, 2 interns, plus 2 graduated architects (he/she might also have a master degree, and traveled around the world for a better understanding of different cultures) to develop the Construction Documents of the project, then of course you "The Architect"... plus all the  (here in Latin America) external professionals a team of structural engineers, a team of people doing costs and quantifications for construction, etc.

    so in resume (at least in your office): 2 interns, 2 architects, you The Project Leader (or whatever you like to be called), thats 3 computers at least, and lets say 3 licensed softwares (and this being really simplistic: photoshop, MS office, AutoCAD). And for how long? mmhhh lets say for a house 3 to 6 months? (of project only) so add into this the rent of a space to host you all, electricity and phone/internet bills. 

    So my question at the end is: REALLY? really all that people, time and equipment is needed to do a simple house?

    I think something is wrong, and i think there's plenty of things to re-think...


    (to be continued...)
    sorry, most of times i "think out loud" when i write, so hope the text is clear enough.




    • mconaway

      glad your back! no leía nada de archinect hace tiempo y ... leía tu blog cuando estudiaba arquitectura- ya arquitecta y ... glad your back.  al final hice master en bcn y estuve en summer program del iaac.  saludos

      Mar 21, 12 5:02 pm  · 

      your right, we should let builders do it all cuz they don't need to think about that silly design stuff.  it definitely leads to better architecture! ;-)

      Mar 21, 12 6:32 pm  · 

      Will, Gaudi never used a single computer, and he designed i think even the poop he made everyday... think you are missing the point here.

      Mar 23, 12 3:05 pm  · 

      Nice little article; I'm keen on hearing the rest of the thought...

      Though I think that in the office size that you were suggesting earlier (2 interns, 2 grads, and the boss) ought to have more than one job running at any given time - at different stages and requiring different resource loading.  Maybe the issue needs to be flipped around, how much should this architect designed family house cost, and therefore how many hours of design work does that equal...

      Also; "... there's some phrase by Koolhaas where he compared the resources needed in Europe vs resources needed in China to realize a project..." - it'd be great to know what the phrase or quote was, do you know where I can find it?

      Mar 29, 12 12:23 am  · 

      Wish i knew where is that correct Koolhaas quote...!!

      Thanks for all the comments, and maybe you are right Nigel, the thing might be better answered if we think about it that way....
      "to have the right answers we need to ask the right questions".

      What about competitions? what's the best way to measure how much you need to invest in impressing someone (most of times you dont know) for a project you dont really know if it will happen, and that you want to do it but competing versus i dunno how many other architects/offices.

      In my personal opinion, i still don't get how architects pay to get into a competition... are they stupid?? or just too rich to throw away money like that?

      and "the end of the thought..." well i think is something that will surface in this "new era" of my blog, being a young professional, dealing with the up's and lows of being an architect and loving architecture but hating the "professional" (or whatever they call this) side of it.

      So yeah the "rest of it" will keep coming in pieces or in loads, but i think it will be surfacing in this new life of this blog... thnx for reading.

      Apr 1, 12 10:56 pm  · 

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Tales and Adventures of my time at the IaaC when this was in it's early years. Feel free to contact me for more reference, in any case i would advice you to enroll here.

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