Tuesday, March 22, 2016


Banksy, Flying Balloons Girl
U.S.-Mexico Border Wall
Berlin Wall
(beta version, the petition below)

[Petitioning here the Directors of Architecture Exhibitions (amongst other actors), in general, and, Alejandro Aravena, the Director of the next Venice Biennale, Reporting From The Front, in particular.]

Following our last post, No Border Wall, there are now numerous questions arising from the subject.

Before that, let me summarize:
The architecture website in this case is the messenger (read it somewhere on twitter), it is the 'container' ; while the, so much changing and still unclear, 'content' comes from a third party...
I think that we all agree on this.
Okay, now what's the deal?
Wallgate (let's call it that) leads, for me, to several levels of critical reading and thinking. Things becomes really interesting now with all the protagonists: Content/Container, Actors/Observers, Pros/Cons, and so on.

So, the crux of the problem is the kind of relationship that we, architects, should have with media (magazines, websites,...), with architecture manifestations (biennales/triennales), with private/public institutions, with politics, with (the power of) money, even with our own clients.

And we have to ask ourselves also: what relationship do each party should, ethically and morally, have with the other?
Let us take some examples:
What is today the relationship between a magazine or a website with a biennale?
What kind of relationship do we have actually between any architecture manifestation and its sponsors?

Is there a conflict of interest? A "mélange des genres"?
Clearly, yes. How can it not?

This bring us to such inextricable situations:
Why can not we today boycott, without causing outcry and embarrassment, a particular media?
Is it because of the poor quality 'content', or because of the powerful 'container'?
Architects aim (and claim) to be critical, but,
How really independent (and free) are they?
That is the whole dilemma.

In the other hand, If we don't act now, such 'intellectual slippages' will become recurrent and trivialized. Quoting a friend here (on Facebook): "Are we just another brick in the wall?"
Hell no! We should be the brick that breaks down the wall!

Dear Alejandro,
As part of this concern for total independence, freedom of expression, and the right to criticism of Architects towards and beyond Architecture, Reporting From The Front, in the current context of migration issues (amongst others), should report from these cynical and controversial (border) walls, and thus open more widely the debate on the role and responsibility of Architects, where ever they are, what ever they do, in such tragic circumstances.
For me, this issue deserves to be worn both to the general public and the architectural sphere via the next Architecture Venice Biennale, otherwise, all that won't make sense.
'Reporting From The Walls', while running 'Reporting From The Front' in Venice this summer, seems to me, as architect, critically important. They are a lot, and we are not talking about only those physical barriers. Political, economical and/or ideological walls are disseminated, unfortunately, all across the world.
Yet precisely, isn't Architecture all about freedom?
From Controversy to Petition
For all these questions, we are launching today this (rather moral and symbolic) petition, and we are asking simply this from all those active in the fields of Architecture:
Architects, free yourselves. Go beyond Architecture.
Today, more than ever.

>Sign the petition!

Thursday, March 17, 2016


Building The Border Wall?
No. #NoBorderWall!

According to Wikipedia:
"ArchDaily is one of the most visited architecture websites worldwide,[7][8][9] with over 300,000 daily readers and about 70 million page views per month as of 2014.[10] Founded in March 2008 by David Basulto and David Assael, ArchDaily includes three regional websites in Spanish (Plataforma Arquitectura, ArchDaily México, ArchDaily Colombia and ArchDaily Perú) and Portuguese (ArchDaily Brasil).[10] It has a partnership with the Pritzker Architecture Prize[10] and was one of five finalists for the Best Online Magazine prize on Mashable's 2009 Open Web Awards.[11]"

2016 - Archdaily - Call for ideas to BUILD a WALL.
This is precisely the reason why ArchDaily should -1- Remove immediately from their website the Building The Border Wall? competition, which unclear and suspicious content changed several times, and people behind (Third Mind Foundation) are still playing with secrecy ; and, they should -2- Present expressly apologies to their 'millions' of readers.
It is that simple.

"Times are changing, so fast."
2011 - Domus - Call for ideas to IMAGINE a BRIDGE.
2016 - Archdaily - Call for ideas to BUILD a WALL.

That being said, things must be clear. The primary objective of this approach is to raise awareness, not to take action against a particular person or a particular website. In the other hand, we architects, especially in this kind of sensitive context, we have a high responsability. We have to be more vigilant and more relevant to avoid (any possible) confusion.
Radical, Yes. Provocative, Yes. Doubtful, No.

Excerpts of some comments from social media:

Q: (N.A.)
Let's do a thought experiment.
Take these two competitions:
1. Building the Border Wall (Third Mind Foundation):
2. Refugee Challenge (What Design Can Do in collaboration with UNHCR and Ikea Foundation):
Think of architecture's metaphysical violence. What does architecture do? Architecture includes, and architecture excludes.
Can we not see these two design objects, a border wall and refugee shelters, as two sides of the same coin?
Can our theoretical insight into the question of designing a border wall not be deepened by reflecting upon the politics of building refugee shelters?

A: (Me)
As you said, the first excludes while the second includes. But of course, it's more complex and I'd be the first to debate (and be critical) on this sensitive issue. But actually the problem lies elsewhere. It is the amateurism of Third Mind Foundation and the "légèreté" of ArchDaily. So, yes from this point of view, this affair is (for me) a whole fiasco. As I already said: Provocative/Radical, yes. Doubtful/Amateur, no.