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“Collectives”: A word used often. 1 of 2


<< Since each of us was more than one, all together there were many. >>Deleuze-Guattari

The problem with ‘collectives’ is that we call them ‘collectives.’

At first we weren’t calling sharing work and seeking out “hyperspaces” anything in particular. Content with the previous decade’s lack of definition, “collective” became a trending topic. Although short, bland, and corny, you could not get away from it.  It made a necessary place for itself as a generalising concept, and “collectives” as a “just so we understand each other” started cropping up in every conversation like a drunk cousin.

Can we say, then, that the problem with Spanish Architecture is first and foremost semantic?

We send you links to a temporary series of articles that appeared after from this site, Fundación Arquia, and Arquitectura Viva launched a couple of trial balloons earlier. Having dissimilar interests, both visible and hidden, they dealt with the need to shed light on the subject and all called for new professional and legal frames of reference for our profession.
Exactly two years ago, Arquitecturaviva_145 / published its controversial issue devoted to the “phenomenon.” Just the editorial itself made the print edition a collector’s item.

It is endearing that everything has already been invented, since the 1960s at least. However, you have to acknowledge that if today we had the density of architects, the number of potential private commissions and the threshold fees set by law that they had back then, then many “Architect collectives” would also have moved into three floors on Madrid’s Gran Via.

A few days after the earth shook came reactions from the most followed blogs.

It is more critically focused than other blogs, but still too simplifying. For instance, it overlooks the fact that many “collectives” were already in existence and were very prolific before and during the real estate bubble that ended up ravishing this country.

A short time later, ETSAB’s Chair Professor shed more dark than light on the subject in El País.

Even sadder than self-conscious victimisation is discovering the aim to focus the debate on labelling a generation of young architects as “anti-system,” because, maliciously speaking, this can be read as an attempt  to stereotpye a generation so as to eliminate potential competitors from circuits where “traditional” architecture is being commissioned.

Under the title “Colectivos: oportunidad real o ficción deseada” (Collectives: real opportunity or desired fiction,” Carlos Camara attempts just this this.

The mistake is seeking to try “to define” what an “architects’ collective” is. – Either do it or not, but don’t try to do it. While the author had the point of his article within reach has he was discussing something towards which many of us work, which is how to make this type of partnership economically sustainable to become professional option. It doesn’t matter whether it is through subsidies, classic entrepreneurship, or sponsorship by your rich uncle Scrooge.

Strabic.fr / Arquitectura-Social. It’s been a topic of conversation in Europe for some time now.

Our neighbours to the north also jumped on the bandwagon, and there are marvellous examples of “Collectifs” there.

Dome from Urbanohumano.org adds colour and complexity to the discussion.

This is certainly the best explanation. Of most interest to us is the topic of how to continue generating and evolving work environments into horizontal, distributed networks that capitalize on group potential while allowing for individual differences (members might be stable or an occasional) to emerge and contribute to the whole.  And all of this must take into account a constantly evolving legal framework and securing a financial structure to keep instability at bay.  What a lot to ask!

Using the term “collectives” simplifies and spreads myths, and continues to fail to acknowledge the complexity of the issue. Ultimately, a sterile debate is invented. With or without malice, this keeps out the “new.”  Current or former “collectives,” with all their peculiarities, private secrets and hidden sins, can only be known from within. Therefore, defining them as “a whole”, aside from being hard work and futile, is an exercise based solely on appearance and/or word of mouth.

Text translated by Beth Gelb
Zuloark es una oficina abierta y distribuida de arquitectura y urbanismo fundada en 2001. Tiene sedes activas en Madrid, Coruña, Berlín y Bologna. Su trabajo en los campos del Urbanismo y Participación, Arquitectura y Construcción, Docencia y Académico, Diseño y Comunidades Digitales, Creación de Eventos y Producción Cultural.

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