What is good architecture and who does it serve? An essential insider's guide to the politics of buildings
Leading architect Reinier de Graaf exposes the truth behind the language of the built environment. He dryly skewers the doublespeak and hot air of an industry in search of an identity in the 21st century, from the cult of the Starchitect, the nature of World Class Design, to what 'Excellence', 'Sustainability', 'Well-being', 'Liveability', 'Placemaking', 'Creativity', 'Beauty' and 'Innovation' mean in the real world.
Architecture, it seems, has become too important to leave to architects – only more so as we face a deepening housing crisis, rising inequality and climate change. No longer does it suffice to judge a building solely by its appearance, it must be measured, and certified.
But who determines how to measure a ‘green building’? How do developers get away with advertising their buildings as promoting 'well-being'? Why did Silicon Valley become so obsessed with devising 'creative' spaces or developing code that replaces architects? How much revenue can be attributed to the design of public space? Why is Vancouver more 'liveable' than Vienna? Who gets to decide what these measurements should be, and what do they actually mean?
With rare and dry wit De Graaf punctures the myths behind the modern architectural debate with wit and devastating honesty. He also includes a biting, satirical dictionary of 'profspeak': the corporate language of consultants, developers and planners from 'Architect, as a verb' to 'Zoom Readiness'.