“Collectives”: A word used often. 2 of 2
Critics have already weighed in. There are, hear ye, hear ye, one-person collectives, fluid collectives exchanging members with other collectives at will, collectives lacking qualified architects, collectives that end up just being a project, and, better yet, projects that transform themselves into collectives or meta-collectives. Then there are traditional architectural studios that are called collectives because it is more trendy, libertarian collectives under kibbutz–like regimes and collectives managed by an iron-fisted boss whose job it is to talk about the work of other collectives, etc. All of these different versions, both original and fake, coexist in each so-called “collective.” Evidence of the word “collective” is the least of our worries. It only needs to be called one to be one. Therefore, anything that wants to be, can be a “collective.” These are too many definitions for a single concept.
Why focus interest on discussing what they are instead of finding out why they arose. Determining when they developed and who was first is all fine and good, but adds not more than labels to the current debate.
As we see it, referring to a GPDWT (group of persons who decided to work together) or knowing how a GPDWT works is different for every group and no two are alike. If you want to study them in order to learn from them, you will necessarily have to study them on a case-by-case basis, since they make up a heterogeneous ecosystem with all of its defining layers. If we treat them like a “phenomenon” that can be generalised, it will be confusing and we will end up with pre-established stereotypes. On the other hand, if we focus more deeply on finding out what they do, we might obtain more valid responses, and understand the complex reality and functioning of the so-called ”collectives” and ultimately focusing the debate on whether, in this new post economic crisis world, we will accept that there are now new roles for architects. Equally important is understanding that more of these collectives will be spawned, that this requires a legal framework, that teaching methods are obsolete, that we have been duped by the notion of “competencies”, and that both legislation and insurance will have to develop at a dizzying pace.
We learn that debates about cities have to be stimulated in cities or by cities, that decision-making needs to be spread-out, that we need to work hand-in-hand with governments to keep them from dodging their share of liability through the tale of “citizen participation,” that participation is built up, not dictated, that municipal technical staff could be your best ally and, above all, that dominant models should not exist in architecture or in the organizations that dispatch it, and that the more heterogeneous and critical the outlook, the more enriched and resilient we will all become.
In a nutshell, we can say that we prefer “doing” over “being,” and that so-called “collectives” are just one more way of practicing the profession, that we consider everyone to be necessary, just as all architectures and all clients are, that we want to take part in both the traditional and the new, and that, overall, we can only differentiate between what each one says and does.