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Venice Biennale 2012


Public Works, Urban Projects Bureau and Owen Pritchard
The Image of the Architect - An Open Charter

After travelling to a diverse set of locations and contexts across the globe, this team of architects and writer Owen Pritchard, examined how the image of the architect varies around the world. From Houston and Bangkok to Amsterdam and Ebbw Vale, these locations reveal a variety of approaches to urban development. Conceived within a UK context of apprehension about the future of the profession, their investigation was motivated by a desire to reaffirm qualities that are vital to the continued progress of society and to the architect’s role as an agent in the world. Two motivating factors drove their work: first, they aimed to accurately depict an image of architects within varied but specific contexts. Second, they sought to provide a platform for debate surrounding the future of the profession. The group’s findings will establish the basis for an Open Charter – a proposal for a new platform for discussion and engagement for the architectural profession to clarify, critique and act upon critical issues that determine the role of the architect. 

Interview with Public Works, Urban Projects Bureau, Owen Pritchard

Why did you want to be part of Venice Takeaway?

Among the pavilions that will host exhibitions about the aspirations that architects have for the future, we saw an opportunity to initiate a discussion about the profession that included an international audience who could offer a different cultural and professional perspective.

Where did your idea come from?

Through working together on a diverse selection of projects in different constellations – in academia, media and practice – and in general conversation with peers and friends, we sensed an underlying frustration regarding the status of the architect and the future of the profession. Although a lot of research exists in this area, it is hard to see how action might be taken. The idea of an open resource which grows over time and develops as a platform that identifies the many roles that an architect must fulfil – both professionally and outside of the legal framework – could act as a catalyst for change.

How are research and exploration important to your practice?

Increasingly, the role of every professional is international. To look at the status of the architect in a world that is full of complexities and contradictions demands a consideration of differing social, economic, cultural and political contexts. We travelled to places that illustrate these stark juxtapositions to learn about the methods and modes of practice that drive urban change.