The (Architectural) Voice
master class 2012
Architecture communicates but does not speak for itself. Architects need to read, understand, review, edit, and write about architecture, just like they need to master more conventional design skills and methods of representation. The objective of the 2012 Metropolis Master Class is to take three moments in modern architectural history as a starting point for the development of a basic communicational toolkit for architects, with the hope of allowing students to find and build on their own (architectural) voice and help them transcend the relatively limited and closed sphere of professional, “expert” language, with the purpose of linking them to wider audiences and concerns. As the new curator of contemporary architecture at the Modern Museum of Art in NYC –the portuguese architect, critic and blogger Pedro Gadanho– has stated “We have to learn to not only speak about architecture, but to use architecture as a platform to address more general concerns such as society, politics, or culture.”
Reaching a wider audience and delving into social, cultural, economic and public issues to stay relevant has long been a concern of modern architecture. The Master Class will be structured in three modules that trace a brief genealogy of this concern: first, a recount of media milestones in the work of twentieth-century architects (Le Corbusier, Charles and Ray Eames, Venturi Scott Brown, Phillip Johnson, and Rem Koolhaas); second, a brief account of the rise and fall of mass-media architectural criticism; and finally, a quick overview of the impact the current explosion of alternative communication and publishing formats—including blogs and zines—has had on what is understood as criticism, content, and authorship in architecture.
The Master Class will function as a research and production workshop. Each module will include an introductory bibliography and lecture, individual research, and a practical exercise (developing a project abstract, writing a critical review and producing a full, independent publication). The objective of each exercise is to develop and put into practice the basic concepts reviewed in the lectures, and to allow students to build a basic set of skills that will help them develop their own work both as students and practitioners.
For the final group project, which will be presented and reviewed at the end of the course, students will produce a section for the New City Reader Barcelona, a newspaper of public space that has been published in New York, London, and Istanbul.