British architect David Chipperfield has been fighting a war of words this month. Weeks after responding to Wolf Prix‘s diatribe against the Venice Architecture Biennale, the knight in RIBA Gold Medal armor found himself in a debate at the London Design Festival, crusading to save architecture from its “shrinking role” in the shaping of British cities. During the debate, Chipperfield lamented how architects have resorted to designing bars, cafes, restaurants, and interiors and criticized the propagation of the discipline as fodder for the “lifestyle pages” in popular media. To him, the role of architecture and design is diminishing into nothing more than an “anesthetic” and a “palliative” in a larger economic crisis, rather than stepping up as a means to address serious socioeconomic problems: “I feel more and more impotent in really doing things, having any real effect on the world we live in” said Chipperfield, according to BDOnline.
Interestingly, Chipperfield’s concerns echo those of Biennale-basher Wolf Prix, whose wordy press release on the Chipperfield-curated Biennale likewise rued the impotence of contemporary architectural practice. But unlike Prix, Chipperfield points a finger at politicians instead of accusing the insular circle of practicing architects. “Politicians are only interested in architecture if it’s related to regeneration,” Chipperfield said during the debate, referring specifically to the regeneration of the construction industry as a boost for the greater economy. “It’s very difficult to convince people that things can be important on their own terms without delivering something.”
To read more about Chipperfield’s comments on contemporary architecture and design, visit BDOnline for the full story.
- Kelly Chan