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/