Academia should include Architecture theory courses in all undergraduate classes in all majors. Before we understand the humanity in Architecture, we will not be able to produce/demand adequate human spaces. When we say Public Spaces, it will mean nothing. When we share Green/Sustainable articles on Facebook, it will mean nothing. We will always mourn buildings that get demolished. We will always mourn cities whose faces are being changed and trajectories made inaccessible.
Inaccessibility is a multidisciplinary plague though. This is particularly true because there is no infrastructure that allows the propagation of individual opinion into the realm of real change. There is not much care on the popular front (the audience) to care. There is not much care on the mainstream platform front (magazines, TV, etc.) to adopt anything beyond the parameters of what is commercially safe and viable.
I submitted an opinion piece a couple of weeks ago to a mainstream lifestyle magazine that I write for on a regular basis. I like platforms that don’t claim academic impulse, and are very clearly commercial. They have a clear reader in mind, the average Joe, the consumer, someone I am interested in talking to. I was asked to rethink/omit the following paragraph from my submission.
“Hopefully to snap out of it soon, the architectural caricature of oil-rich Arab states brings to mind Hans Christian Andersen’s story, “The Emperor’s New Clothes” – in this case “The Emperor’s New Buildings” – where a pair of tailors convince the emperor that they were making him a robe only wise men can see. They presented the robe, and the emperor saw nothing, yet he pretended to see it and wore it with pride in front of his people to keep with his wise persona. The emperor walked naked, as there was no robe to begin with. His people saw him naked, yet they too pretended to see the robe. Today, the emperor’s new buildings stand tall; the tallest in the world, and stand expensive, breaking records creating a façade for a place that still needs so much more work. The audience stands in awe, bedazzled and in praise. Architecture can do that to spectators striving to see what they want to see.”
I would have liked to see the article printed in its original format, but the edits will be done. The Emperor still wears his new clothes, and as we tend them, mend them and applaud their catwalks extending onto territories we considered home, we are the only ones at loss. There is no such thing as an institution that suddenly wakes up and smells humanitarian coffee. Governments, developers, investors and power parties have no intuitive interest in becoming better entities. Will we able to dilute these entities if we decide not to boycott them: to write, publish, and participate in mainstream channels risking partial censorship and/or editorial choreography? I don’t know. I will keep writing for the said magazine as long as they agree to publish a small opinion section on architecture. I think a small opinion section on local contemporary architecture is a good thing to exist in a general lifestyle magazine.