The Difference Between Challenge and Stress

I have a habit of signing myself up for shit I Do Not Want to Do in the hope that I Will Once It Comes Around. I do this because if I didn’t, I’d be living squarely inside my comfort zone and Me in a…


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The Power that Architecture Holds

Architects have a unique power that not many people truly understand. It’s a concept that takes a little bit of explaining, but in a nutshell, architects can define the face of city.

A society is defined by the people in it, but a city is defined by the skyline that draws the eye. And who designs that skyline? Various architects. It is the vision of a few that dictate the style of the society. London’s skyline is dictated by Norman Foster, Chicago by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, and now Auckland seemingly by Warren and Mahoney.

I say that, because they’re working on a 1.2 hectare space on the Auckland waterfront. Commerical Bay will likely be completed by 2020, meaning that when the world’s eyes are drawn to Auckland for the 2021 America’s Cup, it will be a focal point of design and style. To further my point, Warren and Mahoney have also designed One Queen Street (2022), Federal Street (2020), Wynyard Quarter (2019), NZ International Convention Center on Hobson Street (2019), Hobson Street Hotel (2019), 12 Madden Street (2017), and Mason Bros on Packenham Street (2016). That’s eight projects in the heart of the city — which only proves my point.

Which building is which? What distinct differences are there?

Auckland seems to be becoming just Warren and Mahoney’s portfolio, and that isn’t sustainable. With so many jobs going to larger firms like Warren and Mahoney, Jasmax, and Architectus, many lesser firms become hidden among the masses. Once a firm becomes ‘known’ to the wider society, they become the status quo and what once was new and breaking the limits, become the norm.

We can take a page out of a biology handbook. Thinking about biodiversity, the higher it is, the more productive the ecosystem is. When the diversity of species is lowered, it impacts on the plant production and therefore effects the wider ecosystem. There’s an impact on everything.

Taking this back to architecture since I’m definitely not a biologist, it works in the same way. When there’s less competition there’s less diversity in the buildings. The work of post-modernsim may not have been appealing to the masses, but it was a radical form of biodiversity for architecture. In a world of glass goldfish boxes, there was a pop of bright colour and sharp jarring lines. Post-modernism was that biodiversity in the architectural world, but now with most jobs going to one or two firms, that diversity in ideas are lost.

If every building looks the same, without a soul or connection to the societal context, why do we need architects? When you have a lack of diversity, you can begin to create some kind of mathematical formula to create the same concept in a different space. Engineers wouldn’t have to deal with architects, they could just use CAD to create the same thing again and again.

Architecture needs diversity to survive. Designing things that look the same regardless of context and climate isn’t sustainable or logical. Auckland isn’t just Warren and Mahoney, it’s Sir Miles Warren, Roger Walker, Peter Beaven, Tibor Donner.

Diversity is what drives us, competition helps creativity thrive. Without it, we’re all living in boxes with little square windows cut out of the side. Not all creative endeavours are going to be perfect, but diversity in the city skyline makes the city more interesting.

— e.i.

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