We tend to be worried about scarcity, emergency, crisis, and all kinds of threats that jeopardize the quality of our actions as architects. But at least under these circumstances the enemy is clear. What is more dangerous is when the opponent is diffuse: the apparently inoffensive traditional middle-class housing and real-estate market, for example, which is responsible for the majority of the square meters built world wide. In that niche, nobody dares step out of the set of rules because of the fear of being replaced by the next architect in the queue. The vicious circle is as follows: the developer claims to know what the public wants. This is a euphemism to avoid saying that he (normally it is a he) has calculated the margins within which private gain and profit can still be assured. This set of rules shouldn’t be too difficult, otherwise the whole commercial operation would become too difficult. This means that any average architect can do the job. So whoever wants to challenge the status quo (threatening financial return) is dismissed or treated as a commodity since average skills can easily be replaced.
In addition to this, it is a field where it is hard to prove that there is a problem. Basic needs are satisfied, so no life is in danger, and there is no humanitarian crisis at stake. There is no sense of urgency to solve anything. In the best case the answer is “acceptable” architecture. In the worst case, it is mediocrity replicated hectare by hectare. Although marketing tries to convince us of a different story, providing quality of life to people is not what brings developers to work every morning; for the real-estate world, architecture is a mere means to make money. The merit of ADNBA is that of struggling for architecture’s quality where apparently there is no conflict.


  • Creator: ADNBA
  • Rights: Photo by Andrea Avezzù; Courtesy: la Biennale di Venezia, With the support of Urban Spaces / Salzburg Real Estate Investment, Mod Makerspace

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