De que depende la arquitectura?
“Less is more.”
— Mies van de Rohe
“Less is a bore.”
— Robert Venturi
“Mess is the law.”
— Jeremy Till
Architecture depends — on what? On people, time, politics, ethics, mess: the
real world. Architecture, Jeremy Till argues with conviction in this engaging,
sometimes pugnacious book, is dependent on things outside itself. Despite the
claims of architects to autonomy, purity, and control, architecture is buffeted by
uncertainty and contingency. Circumstances invariably intervene to upset the
architect’s best-laid plans — at every stage in the process, from design through
construction to occupancy. Architects, however, tend to deny
this, fearing contingency and preferring to pursue perfection.
With Architecture Depends, architect and critic Jeremy Till offers
a proposal for rescuing architects from themselves: a way to
bridge the gap between what architecture actually is and what
architects want it to be. Mixing anecdote, design, social theory,
and raw opinion, Till’s writing is always accessible, moving freely
between high and low registers, much like his suggestions for
The everyday world is a disordered mess, from which
architecture has retreated — and this retreat, says Till, is
deluded. Architecture must engage with the inescapable
reality of the world; in that engagement is the potential for
a reformulation of architectural practice. Contingency should
be understood as an opportunity rather than a threat. Elvis
Costello said that his songs have to work when played through
the cheapest transistor radio; for Till, architecture has to work
(socially, spatially) by coping with the flux and vagaries of
everyday life. Architecture, he proposes, must move from a
reliance on the impulsive imagination of the lone genius
to a confidence in the collaborative ethical imagination,
from clinging to notions of total control to an intentional
acceptance of letting go.
Jeremy Till is Dean of Architecture and Built Environment at the University of Westminster
and a partner at Sarah Wigglesworth Architects. Their projects include the pioneering
9 Stock Orchard Street (The Strawbale House and Quilted Office), winner of multiple
awards. He represented Britain at the 2006 Venice Architecture Biennale.
“A provocative declaration of war on utopia, powered by a fuel rich in social justice and
sharp humor. Architects, hide it from your clients and your students — it is an unusual
and explosive mixture that produces difficult questions like spores. With this book
Jeremy Till raises the starting price on all our discussions of architecture.”
— Paul Shepheard, author of What is Architecture? and Artificial Love
Polemics and reflections on how
to bridge the gap between what
architecture actually is and what
architects want it to be.
6 x 9, 272 pp.