- The Identity of the Architect: Culture and Communication
A discussion that already began a few years ago with the book, Architecture on the web. A Critical Approach to Communication, published by Libreriauniversitaria.it, and edited by Paolo Schianchi, architect, Visual Communication and Interaction Design lecturer at IUSVE – Istituto Universitario Salesiano Venezia and chief editor of the architecture portal, Floornature.com. The book explores the transition of an architecture project into architecture made public. It focuses on the way end-users harness the information and in what timeframe, and on the relationship between the work and its interpretation through a variety of media: internet, photographs, videos, texts, posts and tweets.
And this discussion is continued here with Laura Iloniemi, who has worked with architects for over twenty years, advising them on how to lead and support their promotional efforts with a curatorial approach, informed by her education in architectural theory and museology. She focuses on the branding aspects, starting from the identity of the architect and their practices since marketing - knowing how to sell yourself - seems to have become an absolute essential after the various crises in the building industry. An inherently tricky world because it seems that architects forget that communication, too, is an expression of their work in the sense of “wanting to be art”, the “Kunstwollen” according to Alois Riegl. Against this, the media favour starchitects and “hero shots” of their architectural output created by photographers, leaving little room to convey the qualities that are less visual and tactile.
As Juhani Pallasmaa writes in his work, DESIGN FOR SENSORY REALITY: From Visuality to Existential experience the time has come to appreciate architecture more holistically, engaging all the senses, because “the architect's task calls for an understanding of phenomena beyond vision, and subtleties of interaction that can hardly be communicated through visual means.”
This aspect leads to the analysis of the social media as opportunities to create the brand identity of the architecture practice, which unfortunately often ends up as simply a glossy showcase of images, where nobody dares and where communication is just repurposing and regurgitating information relayed, as Adam Nathaniel Furman writes. Architect Ian Ritchie urges us to change the message from one-way to two-way and start listening to the public. As emphasised by Jan Knikker, partner and Head of Strategy at MVRDV, it is a choice that can be adopted, using a more simple and accessible language, which, however, could end up alienating the studio from other, more conservative architects.
The book, The Identity of the Architect: Culture and Communication doesn’t provide rules or turnkey solutions, it simply encourages the promotion of practices as an integral extension of the very culture they hope to engender through their work.
The Identity of the Architect: Culture and Communication
Author: Laura Iloniemi
Architectural Design, Wiley, 2019
Contributors: Stephen Bayley, Caroline Cole, Adam Nathaniel Furman, Gabor Gallov, Jonathan Glancey, Justine Harvey, Owen Hopkins, Crispin Kelly, Jay Merrick, Robin Monotti, Juhani Pallasmaa, Vicky Richardson, Jenny Sabin, and Austin Williams.
Featured architects: Ian Ritchie, BIG, MVRDV, IF_DO and Zaha Hadid Architects
ISBN: 1119546214, 9781119546214
MVRDV, Werk12, image: Ossip van Duivenbode
Foster Instagram, screenshot
BIG website, screenshot
Zaha Hadid website, screenshot
MVRDV, Bulgari Kuala Lumpur, image: Daria Scagliola&Stijn Braakee
MVRDV Instagram, screenshot