THE FUTURE ROLE OF THE NEO-ARCHITECT
Published on the 2016 industry report made by Sveriges Arkitekter.
- Chances our need for architects in the traditional sense will disappear when the creative work increasingly democratized?
Our work challenges the traditional top-down approach of architects dictating our urban landscape. We do this not because we feel that the role of the architect is overrated, but because we view architecture as a field that is mature enough to start opening up to more multidisciplinary ways of working. We believe that a city is a holistic creature and that the built environment must be based on users needs. But in order to do this it is necessary for a process of identifying needs objectively before the architects start sketching. This means that the process of building a space should incorporate many actors including residents, local businesses, the municipality, organizations and architects. Architects are only a piece in the puzzle where they once were the whole puzzle.
- If so, what are the advantages and disadvantages of the development?
The advantages of this development are numerous. Spaces that are co-created are built for the long-term. They are socially sustainable and this makes them more economical in the long-run. The final result is contextually designed and encourages social interaction among users. Involving users in the process means that after construction phase, when the architects move on, there are people who can continue the process of co-creation.
The main disadvantage of co-creation is that it is more time-consuming than a traditional design. The architect plays a smaller role in the entire process and their work is not as autonomous. Form must follow function and the design must be based on the needs identified during the co-creation process.
- What then becomes our new professional role? And anyone can ultimately call himself an architect?
The role of this neo-architect is to facilitate a co-creation process or alternatively to work closely with a neutral intermediary who can do this. This process is a way of understanding a context (who the actors are, how they interact), identifying the needs of the actors and finding ways to utilize the material and human resources of the actors to develop the project. The architect must then work in an iterative manner to design a solution that best corresponds to this process. The role of the architect is still a skilled technical role which should not be undermined.
- What social trends need architects to adapt to, and how do we make ourselves relevant in the future?
Architects need to embrace a multidisciplinary way of working and acknowledge the weight of research that supports co-creation as a method to developing better spaces (indoor and outdoor, public and private). They need to experiment with new forms of collaboration with “nontraditional” actors. They must take inspiration from the phenomena of grassroots groups “reclaiming the city” and utilize the open-source collaborative ethos to design projects that spark community instead of starchitect mantle-pieces.