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.