The built environment is both a passive reflection of and an active instrument for societal beliefs, cultural agendas, economic pressures, and legislative powers. What we build is inevitably a translation of these influences, and therefore lacks the primacy of the system that afforded its construction. More important than the house is who owns it. More important than the public space is who has access to it. Product is unfailingly beholden to Process.
Despite its unique position to offer spatial solutions to problems of fundamental societal importance, architecture and its actors face a systemic reality in which work is perpetually imagined but rarely implemented. We are dependent—on money, law, and policy—and subservient—to ownership, budget, and external agendas.
So we have mastered what we can implement: form, light, material, space. Though immensely powerful, these first principles have proven limited in their capacity to effect expansive good, precisely because of their late entry into the conversation. We ask, then, what might be our next principles? We believe they lie among those processes that define architecture’s possibilities: platform, product, service, model, capital, law, policy, etc. Here, in an expanded praxis of spatial potential, we believe architecture can find new utility in the public interest.
We sat down with nine architects, academics, lawyers, entrepreneurs, strategists and consultants operating at the edge of the profession and against these limitations to investigate the future and efficacy of our work:
Vishaan Chakrabarti / A strong ethical stance is good business; so is unsolicited work that proves it.
Anika Singh Lemar / Community and economic development depend equally on imaginative advocacy and direct engagement.
Andrew Bernheimer / Affordable housing is constricted by money and site, mass timber could loosen it.
Rory Hyde/ Cities should solicit unsolicited work and finance design in the public interest.
Phil Bernstein/ Architects can set up problems, not just solve them; it’s strange that governments don’t fund their cause.
Marthijn Pool / The internet might pose a renewed right to the city.
John Pontillo / Social equity isn’t only philanthropic, it’s mutually profitable.
Bryan Boyer / Why speculate when you can research [for foundations, on behalf of cities]?
Gerald Frug / Architecture is governed: by federal law, state legislatures, and city governments…but laws are just ideas [that could be changed tomorrow].
Paprika! vol. 3 no. 2, September 21, 2017
Issue Editors: Jonathan Molloy and Sam Zeif
Graphic Design: Liyan Zhao and Rosa McElheny
Coordinating Editors: Amanda Iglesias and Julie Turgeon
Publishers: Jeremy Jacinth and Nadeen Safa
The views expressed in Paprika! do not represent those of the Yale School of Architecture. Please send comments and corrections to email@example.com. To read Paprika! online, please visit our website, yalepaprika.com. Paprika! receives no funding from the School of Architecture.