Leading architect Reinier de Graaf punctures the myths behind the debates on what contemporary architecture is, with wit and devastating honesty. Architecture, it seems, has become too important to leave to architects. No longer does it suffice to judge a building solely by its appearance, it must be measured, and certified. When architects talk about ‘Excellence’, ‘Sustainability’, ‘Well-being’, ‘Liveability’, ‘Placemaking’, ‘Creativity’, ‘Beauty’ and ‘Innovation’ what do they actually mean?
In Architect, Verb, De Graaf dryly skewers the doublespeak and hot air of an industry in search of an identity in the 21st century. Who determines how to measure a ‘green building’? Why is Vancouver more ‘liveable’ than Vienna? 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? Who gets to decide what these measurements should be, and what do they actually mean? And what does it mean for the future of our homes, cities, planet?
He also includes a biting, satirical dictionary of ‘profspeak’: the corporate language of consultants, developers and planners from ‘Active listening’ to ‘Zoom Readiness’.