Having discussed how often art is forsaken in the attempt to sustain architectural businesses, some credit should be given to the architects who build attempting to stay artistically creative. Getting down to the nitty-gritty the built product with all its complicated background of orchestrating budgets, clients, materials and colleagues is what should be examined in order to evaluate architecture as an art.
The Architects Journal’s award for small projects is a publishing event that seeks design innovation that has been materialised for up to £250.000. Small projects are what most architectural practices live on as they hardly ever come across large commissions. This collection of buildings and extensions might seem to applaud the architects’ resourcefulness but all of us who have worked for small firms or freelanced, know that this scale describes best the architectural profession. Most of the times it is about making do with less but expected to deliver the most by juggling conflicting forces and interests.
In buildings of that scale is where architecture actually occurs because humanitarian values stay intact. Having an inexhaustible budget is what every designer wishes for but there is a price to pay for that, whether that is compromising one’s values to accommodate the ‘spoilt’ client’s wishes or simply losing touch with all that is real in people’s everyday lives.
Small commissions might seem limited or restricting, however they are the most useful of exercises in order to define one’s identity as a designer. Ancient Greeks believed that a boundary is not the place where something ends but it is actually the beginning of its existence, as infinite expansion contradicts differentiation and the definition of an identity.
Apart from reading about the AJ Small projects awards in the Architects Journal, I also visited the exhibition at the New London Architecture foundation which is located on the ground floor of the Building Centre in Central London. Contrary to the importance of the endeavour of bringing small scale into the spotlight, the exhibition is not as interesting to visit. Mostly because it looks as if someone tore pages of a magazine and put them up on the wall over some work models that are simply left on a table. In my opinion there is much to learn from such projects thus a larger and more legible exhibition should and most definitely would attract more visitors. Alternatively one can always check the entries at AJ magazine or website.
See all entries at the AJ Library here
NLA exhibition information here