The alienating architectural machine projected by its alienated product, the architect

The architect’s blindness was never a problem to megalomaniac projects, but allowed many to avoid seeing the favela removals;

To the architect, the drawing, as any language, is a subjective process, dependent on the interpretation of what we see, but subjacent to that there´s something essential that may pass unnoticed. The architect as designer is also a canvas, painted by himself and always modulated, reesculpted by the multiple realities in which one’s submerged, or as proposed by Anne Marie-Willis, there’s always a loop of variating influences imposing their own inconstancy upon both the architect and the project:

“designing is fundamental to being human – we design, that is to say, we deliberate, plan and scheme in ways which prefigure our actions and makings – in turn we are designed by our designing and by that which we have designed” – Anne Marie-Willis

Quinta Monroy. Alejando Aravena.

The prefiguration of the action is where the architect puts himself as the intermediary between what is and what is expected to happen. This prefiguration is dependent on the way the other will interpret it and in this frontier many complications can arise, sometimes even preventing the architect’s intents, as an author, to take place. Despite the architecture being experience and stretch beyond the symbols by which it’s composed, we can try to comprehend this problem through what Roland Barthes alerts about interpreting the creative activities without the original Author:

We know that a text does not consist of a line of words, releasing a single “theological” meaning (the “message” of the Author-God), but is a space of many dimensions, in which are wedded and contested various kinds of writing, no one of which is original: the text is a tissue of citations, resulting from the thousand sources of culture.” – Roland Barthes

Not being only image, even if it’s constituted of symbols, and also based on external point of views to realize itself, the architecture is a foggy region between the seen and the unseen. It’s in this not seeing that much of it´s potential is lost or made real. This other side is what the theory tries to uncover and can be only be intellectually comprehended.

Port House. Zaha Hadid.

The urban tension, the many filters and focal points in shock inside the space are not visible in the moment of the experience. The architect’s duty is to know the space being altered, not only from the technical standpoint but also through the theoretic apparatus. Architecture is impossible without knowing the unseens behind the project. If a political, economic or social relation goes unnoticed and creates a future problem or maintain a segregatory status quo, for example, it’s not fair to exempt the architect since if the construction crumbled it wouldn’t be less of a disaster than your project perpetuating a historical problem in your country. This invisible side is part of the special reality and the architect must take responsibility over it.

In the city it’s wrong to suppose the architectural experience only as special, external and individualistic. This ideal autistic architect still thrives in the discourse used to comment the history of architecture. The creation of categories to such an extent that both drawing and project, where the intellectual, the design, the internalized activity happens, get to extremes that not only are far from real but also risk aesthetic and stylish solutions in flagrant opposition with a minor (as the term is used by Deleuze and Guattari to talk about literature) and less arrogant architecture.

Every action presupposes in some level a complex social and psychological mechanism. The German philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein denied the idea of the human being composed by a dichotomy between internal and external or thought and action as totally distinct fields of the human nature. When proposing the humane as a psychophysical unit, Wittgenstein sees thinking and acting as one. Taking this concept freely and even with certain irresponsibility, we can think the architectonic prefiguration inhabiting the thinking and the acting as a process beyond the individual psychology, including the inescapable ranging from each society superstructure to each individual personality nuances.

The physical space is translated by the architect through the drawing – the language that will later become a text space – this intentional sewing to create a multiple tapestry of signs with their possibilities. The intentionality matters only as it relates to the designer’s thoughts since once it’s determined, there’s (or should have) an uprooting of the project before it can go to it´s true creation phase: the exposition to multiple and unrestricted interpretations steaming from the collective imaginary around those signs, bringing new meanings both for the project and for the signs at the same time. However, being a psychophysical unity, the architect and his entire creative production are based on an intellectual refinement that, in this situation, pass through the studies of a deep theoretical repertoire acting as a foundation for the architecture and is able of both to potencialize or to restrain. The architect truly capable of prefiguring an engaged architecture is that whose theoretical apparatus gives him the best tools to see that which is not visible.

MASP. Lina Bo Bardi. Photo by Oswaldo Cornetti.

The architect’s blindness was never a problem to megalomaniac projects, but allowed many to avoid seeing the favela removals; it does not prevent anyone from getting the diploma, but prevent many architecture students from seeing the neighborhood where they study and live, the people with whom they share the space, the surrounding shocks. Blindness and superficiality are both programmed, they have an agenda and it’s not in the best interest of the architect nor of the people who need his education.

We are being convinced that the architect is part of a fancy office or the hero of an aborted revolution, an egocentric artist, most of all an excess. Given this, to search for the unseen, this structure that, laid upon us, crush so many things is a necessity, an act of lucid rebellion. Without thinking outside the given conjuncture the architecture is just a name, a technic, one more product.