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Published in Hunch, the Berlage Institute report, 6/7 2003; 109 provisional attempts to address six simple and hard questions about what architecture do today and where their professional might go tomorrow; pp118-119.

To paraphrase a dialogue from a Henry James novel:
A woman: "Just who do you think I am?"
Two men: "Of course we know what you are.
We are just quibbling about your value."

Is architecture's challenge about self-value or overcoming uncertainty about future roles, or both? Architectural value - felt, acted upon and responded to - will come from the effective application of research-based design thinking, the highest quality of disciplinary alliances, intense social curiosity, an alchemist's confidence in process, and the ability to think intuitively with peripheral vision for all those architecture is for, rather than taking an apparently practical formula and rolling it out continually in identikit form. In finding value, fear a too great consistency.

Instead of reacting by reflex to unexpected changes, architecture could develop its powers of situational, adaptive thinking. By curating from the inside out, architects could intensify the space of a project, generating deeply emotive entities that unsettle the way people look at things. The architect should always 'hack' the abstract preconceptions and blind spots of a client's brief for the kernel of a greater truth, rather than be dictated by it.

In our increasingly atomized society, architecture could apply an infrastructural logic of flow and work toward the dissolution of boundaries. It doesn't need to solve the city, but it does need to invest in gestating and testing new hybrid civic typologies, as well as co-opting and manipulating older forms, to help enable social patterns to continue evolving. It should play brand culture at its own game but always change or widen those rules, and not mistake surface for depth. It should help us to keep finding new worlds.


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