Risk 2015: Architecture and the need for insecurity

Risk avoidance increasingly determines architectural selection. But does that mean that successful architects are risk-averse? In 2006, Ben van Berkel (fellow co-founder of UNStudio) and I wrote: “We like to be lighthearted, but can’t always evade northern heavy-handedness; we like to think that we navigate a smooth space, but we can’t sometimes help sensing that we actually swerve from near-collision to near-collision, with the occasional total wreck thrown in. We like to think that we can be players in the actual world, but we don’t always feel sure it’s the same world. But isn’t this what it really means to believe in the experimental? What we don’t like, and there are no qualifying buts attached to that, is risk-free architecture. In the long run it does not even make a difference if that safe architecture is of the pretension-less commercial variety, or disguised as ‘critical’ architecture, its criticality actually amounting to a recitation of the irony and the received opinions that have been echoing around in media space for thirty years. The meaninglessness of an architecture that avoids risk is most eloquently expressed by the fact that it has recently noiselessly converted from a once staunchly defended modernist formal appearance to a once vehemently opposed expressionist or organic formal appearance. The practice of an experimental approach, entailing the concentration of all your efforts in an uncertain, completely unknown outcome, over and over again, is really the purest form of idealism, utopianism even. Consequently, those of us who embrace this uncertainty, who reject the safe haven of a consensual, long-ago utopia, must address the complex nature of the real.” 1

An engagement with contemporaneity, with reality, is at the basis of our practice. Today, that also entails the awareness that risk is always there – it manifests itself in many forms and is, ultimately, always shared.

1. Ben van Berkel and Caroline Bos, Design Models (London: Thames & Hudson, 2006)

Source

Discussion

Published online: 30 Apr 2015
Words: Caroline Bos
Images: Courtesy of UNStudio

Issue

Architecture Australia, March 2015

Related topics

More discussion

See all
The three-metre “Foreverhome” tower, produced during the 2020 Abedian School of Architecture Design Charrette (led by invited practitioners Rodney Eggleston and Anne-Laure Cavigneaux of March Studio), was produced collectively by the students to explore construction for high-density living. Designing hope: The role of architecture education in the climate crisis

What do students need to learn now in order to ameliorate the climate crisis and bring sustainable techniques to the profession in a radically different …

Gillies Hall at Monash University's Peninsula campus by Jackson Clements Burrows Architects demonstrates that Passive House is a viable option for large residential projects in Australia. Passive House: Analyzing design’s fourth dimension

Travelling to Vancouver, New York and Brussels, Kate Nason found that the Passive House standard was central to emission-reduction efforts in all three cities.

University of Wollongong's Sustainable Buildings Research Centre by Cox Richardson (now Cox Architecture). Decarbonizing the construction sector: The role of certification

The CEO of the Green Building Council of Australia explains how the organization aims to take advantage of the construction sector’s ability to decarbonize in …

Ellen Buttrose. Climate and politics in the tropics

Two members of People Oriented Design explain how the challenging climatic and political environments of Far North Queensland impact their approach to sustainable practice.

Most read

Latest on site

Calendar