Politics, Architecture, Chemistry and Västlänken.

On the 22nd of November 2010, architects, city officials and engineers gathered and discussed the Göteborgs Västlänken project. This project is a major piece of the current work in the Matter Space Structure Studio.

The conference was very good. The information was clearly presented, relevant to what we are thinking about, and the food was great. It was impressive to see some important city officials alongside influential architects and engineers, as well as an inspiring talk from Sven Engstrom, relating chemical structures in our body to how we navigate our cities.

What I took away from this conference however was a slightly more boring outlook. The contrast between the architectural presentations and the ‘political’ presentations left me worried about the role politicians and architects see themselves playing today. On one hand, the politicians are really the true architects of our society. With little or no design or spatial sensitivity they embark setting budget and site constraints, seemingly without regard, and then pass it to designers to work within these constraints. Equally worrying is how the architects / engineers accept this, and work within these constrains in an attempt to come up with ‘best possible’ solutions. I left a bit confused about my role as an architect in this system. Should I work to create better ‘best possible’ solutions or to look up the chain of command, to the politicians,  and lobby that the design of the constraints themselves actually can have a larger impact on what actually happens.

I don’t want to be an architect that just makes happily colored spaces. I want the best for our city, and our civilization, and I think that this can happen through responsible design, not only of the buildings and infrastructure, but also in our planning and development goals. As a student, I get to design not only my physical project, but I also get to design how it fits into a larger vision. How can it be that architects abandon this incredibly exciting part of the job once they leave school and begin working within archaic, poorly thought through visions? Because of Money? I suppose I will be poor then, which makes me even more grateful for the fantastic free meal I got realizing it.

You can read more about the Trafikverkets Västlänken plans here: http://www.trafikverket.se/Privat/Projekt/Vastra-Gotaland/Vastlanken—smidigare-pendling-och-effektivare-trafik/

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2 Responses to Politics, Architecture, Chemistry and Västlänken.

  1. miathyberg says:

    Connecting to Mikes experience of the conference, the communication between our local politicians and architects/engineers/other experts is totally absent!
    Chatting with local architects in the lobby, I realized that the project of Westlink/Västlänken has not developed further during the last years. And the future plans seems to be unnecessary long. Why? Remains to be answered.
    The initiative for the conference, as I understand, comes from Morten Lund and offers a super current opportunity for Göteborg to develop with a little help from a friend; The Project Manager of the reconstruction of Stuttgart Central Station, Heiko Trumpf, was sharing their experiences and knowledge so far. As we all know, this is a struggle! We want to avoid something like that here in Göteborg of course.
    Another important issue was proved by the famous architect Will Alsop, who gave a presentation of relevant projects from his portfolio. Displaying the opportunities of multifunctional spaces such as in the Peckham Library. And the process of the Greenwich underground station taking shape from a monumental deep blue painting. Stressing the advantages of including also artists in the design process.
    I am a simple student at Chalmers, but one question seems to be of interest for all people in our Västra Götaland and Halland Region;
    Where are the city planners in the planning of our city?

  2. Lasse Persson says:

    Reading.. imp:ed. L.

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