Ian Ritchie was invited by PROEVENT Association, organisers of the SHARE International Architecture and Engineering Forums to submit a manifesto which will be published as part of a collection of Share Architects manifestos online and as a book.
PREFACE TO A MANIFESTO: ‘UNSELF’
We are living at a time in which cultures worldwide are dominated by a hybrid of state and corporate power, enabled by the advertising and media industries. Many of our cityscapes have become physical embodiments of their values. The ‘architect-as-brand’ colludes with the system, designing essentially superficial and selfish architecture that gratifies itself with hyperbole – the first, the biggest, the latest: a selfish architecture that represents media- and consumer-induced self-aggrandisement.
However, I feel we are at the beginning of new paradigm, a seriously important new movement in urbanism and architecture. It hinges crucially on the creative desire of humankind to express itself unselfishly. More than economy, more than efficiency, more than visual aesthetics: a selfless architecture.
Humans are profoundly social creatures. We evolved to thrive in small tight-knit social groups and natural environments. Our genetic and neurological predisposition for such a life and the emotional equilibrium it engenders has changed little, if at all, in spite of our unique adaptability.
Neuroscience has begun to give us the knowledge with which to mitigate the effects of the mismatch between our genes and our urbanised societies, and resolve the disequilibrium between ourselves and a high-density built environment which, in spite of its benefits, is stressful.
Architects must begin designing with the mind in mind in order to maintain and ensure their relevance.
I suggest this might initially be achieved by cultivating an internal position of graceful humility and adopting a new architectural philosophy suited to our growing knowledge of what the human ‘Being’ is: a philosophy of ‘UNSELF’, in which the architect’s ego is subsumed into an ethical and altruistic expression of the needs, desires and forces outside itself, and which are unique to each project.
Architecture based upon this philosophy will not be an embodiment of the self-asserting identity of the architect, but a space to be completed and filled by the human beings who will inhabit and animate it – truly human architectural and urban spaces that resonate with their ‘being’, and truly significant works of architecture.
Architecture is not a commodity to be consumed but to be lived in and with.
© 2017 Ian Ritchie