1

“I like the naturalness of Siza’s buildings. They look like cats sleeping in the sun.”

Bargain-Basement Architecture

In an interview, Souto de Moura once said,

«Gosto da naturalidade dos edifícios do Siza. Parecem gatos a dormir ao sol.»1

The truth is, we really have turned architecture into a kind of cat: one of those lucky maneki-neko cat figures you can find in any Chinese pound shop.

Can you imagine a patient calling a doctor to ask how much the treatment costs, before the doctor has even had chance to give a diagnosis?  That happens, with architects.

Can you imagine a patient googling “cheap doctors” rather than “good doctors” because the important thing is the price of the treatment, regardless of what it includes or how effective it may be?  That happens, with architects.

Can you imagine a patient haggling with the doctor over the price of the treatment because “another doctor does it for half the price?”  That happens, with architects.

Can you imagine a patient telling the doctor the consultation is expensive and that he/she doesn’t need a full diagnosis, just  “a piece of paper saying what I’ve got and what I have to take for it”?  That happens, with architects.

Can you imagine a patient telling a doctor to start the treatment before receiving payment, and saying he/she will look at the results before deciding whether or not to pay?  That happens, with architects.

Can you imagine a patient telling the doctor to change the treatment because his/her brother-in-law/next-door neighbour/friend reads medical magazines and says it’s better to take medicines other than the ones the doctor prescribed?  That happens, with architects.

In actual fact, the only real patient here – and a very seriously ill patient at that – is the prestige of architecture. And the cause of the illness is none other than architects themselves.

Architects who, succumbing to majority pressure, give estimates over the phone without even knowing exactly what a job entails.

Architects who, carried along on the tide of social convention, proudly wave the “cheapest in town” banner because being the best is very difficult, but all you need to do to be the cheapest is undervalue yourself just a little more.

Architects who, swayed by collective sentiment, assume that our work is “only” a little plan or a couple of drawings that can be knocked off in fifteen minutes, and forget that behind each line there are years of training, hard work, and sometimes even talent.

Architects who stoically agree to work on a pre-design without even knowing whether the customer will eventually commission the job, thus gifting work, time and, above all, something unique, original and exclusive: our intellectual property.

Architects who, out of respect for the old mantra that “the customer is always right”, accept the opinions of clients (and their friends) instead of using our own academic criteria to defend the aesthetic – and sometimes even the technical – features of a project.

If we let ourselves get talked into bazaar-style haggling, if we accept drastic cuts in our fees, if we prefer to offer low prices rather than quality…. and, in short, if we treat our work as if it were any old article on sale in a bargain basement, we can’t expect customers to consider it any better than one of those maneki-neko cats: one that, with a bit of luck and if they’re smart, they might even pick up a little cheaper!


Text translated by  Andrew V. Taylor
Notas de página
1

“I like the naturalness of Siza’s buildings. They look like cats sleeping in the sun.”

Autor:
Arquitecto formado en la U. Europea de Madrid y la New School of Architecture and Design de San Diego (California, USA). | MArch bajo la docencia de Álvaro Siza, E. Souto de Moura, Aires Mateus, Carlos Ferrater o Fran Silvestre (con quien ha colaborado) entre otros. | Actualmente desarrolla su Tesis Doctoral sobre la materialidad de la luz natural y su carácter cinético en la obra de Siza, lo cual compagina con el trabajo del estudio (www.raulgarcia-studio.com)

Deja un comentario

Tu correo no se va a publicar.

*

Últimos posts