A couple of years ago, I had written an interpretation of Atmospheres by Zumthor. What started out as a book review eventually turned into my own personal questions towards architecture and space. It took me some courage to share it with my professor, who gave me the most valuable comment I could have asked for. He said that the piece transcended typical star-struck commentary of an architect’s work to produce my personal interpretation of Zumthor’s space.
What I then realised is that we are never explicitly taught NOT to glorify architects. As students, we’re taught about “star-chitects”. We’re taught that LeCorbusier, Kahn, Venturi, Foster, Wright, etc. are important architects. Are we ever taught to question what made them important and if the attention showered on them is valid ?
I came across an article that debunked the praise showered on Zumthor. We’re hardly ever taught to see beyond the clouds of fame. Being part of such a subjective field, its important to make these opinions for yourself. Question them, don’t worship them. Find out about their work – the ideology they claim to follow, do they really follow them ? Or are the claims indulgent ?
What about the architects on the other side of the spectrum ? Those who attract the attention and praise. Once again, the subjectivity of our field often leaves us in need for validation for our work. Its very natural to feel this way, but it tends to remove us from our purpose. Fame is a part of our field, but one needs to remember that it just a by-product.
Even now, if I come across an architect’s work, I consciously try to understand it more holistically. What are the things that work, why and what are the things they’ve failed to address, why. After all, we’re told about these architects to learn from them. So the next time you pick up a book or come across an architect’s building, learn to demystify it.