In an age where the only form of meaningful resistance is to act responsibly, Millennials have no choice but to accept the task of reconciliation. Reconciliation with our true selves, our environment, and our human community. Shifting from the individual to the universal unrestricted by physical distance and access to knowledge.4
Without beginning or end, time is not linear, what we do now will alter the shape of the past and the future. The lessons of yesterday and the great problems of tomorrow will not wait for us, our work is today.3, 6
We were wrong to praise the man behind the steering wheel, speeding off in a tangential orbit. Disoriented and stumbling we harnessed the great power of iron and cement, urbanizing at great speed, shifting the human condition to the urban condition.6 But why for so many people has urbanisation not solved the problems of transport, density and sustainability?
Unlike the house the city cannot simply be a machine for living. The city at its incredible scale is acting as a plague on the earth, devastating biodiversity, sealing once fertile soil with cement and tar, radiating heat while producing mountains of waste. Manhattenism has brought its perpetual crisis to the world and the consequences are disastrous.9
Who will build gardens out of deserts! Who will rehabilitate our polluted lands, rivers, lakes, and oceans?2 To interrogate this, we must shatter the bark of appearances and look at the spirit of our work. We must create and harness the laws of nature and the laws of science into a single spirit.5 Let us tear up unnecessary roads, topple the statues of false prophets, overturn monuments and raise the gates of prison.1
It is not simply a question of materials and design but politics, economics, and labour.12 Technology and philosophy are both tools.13 If we are to rebuild our cities it must be both spiritually and materially. A spiritual city requires the questioning of our values, both individually and collectively. Let us develop a hybrid city of density and biodiversity where sustainability and ethics can propagate.8
To destroy is easy, to develop the elements which facilitate a sustainable urban environment will require endurance, skill, and faith. The artificial nature of our institutions and structures will always make them vulnerable to our own spiritual competence. Societies dichotomy of great wealth in diversity while grasping at identities which can differentiate and divide us requires public and private spaces which craft community.8 If reason is the first principle of human work then let our architecture be the spatialization of democracy.10
Engineers will not lead us, developers will not pay for this, we must be clear within our own profession, our task is to develop sustainable urban environments. The erosion of the profession’s integrity and its relationship to society is a reality that cannot be ignored. Architecture is not an essential service and still our current architectural things do not meet our needs.
I am for an architecture that embroils itself with the everyday crap and still comes out on top. I am for an architecture that comes out of a rush hour public transit scrum, eye gauged and scuffed with the ball in hand.
All that is solid melts into air, the water at our feet will soon be at our necks.11, 12, 14 The outcome of our work is not within complete control and complete control is unnecessary.
Originally published in 2020
1. F. T. Marinetti, ‘The foundation and Manifesto of Futurism’ (1909)
2. Walter Gropius, ‘What is architecture?’ (1919)
3. Aleksandr Rodchenko, ‘Manifesto of the constructivist group’ (1922)
4. Theo van Doesburg and others, ‘Manifesto I of De Stijl’ (1922)
5. Vicente Huidobro, ‘We Must Create’ (1922)
6. Le Corbusier, ‘Toward an architecture’ (1923)
7. Claes Oldenburg, ‘I Am for an Art’ (1961)
8. Robert Venturi, ‘Non-Straightforward Architecture: A Gentle Manifesto’ (1966)
9. Rem Koolhas, ‘Delirious New York: A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan’ (1978)
10. João Batista Vila Nova Artigas, (1968)
11. Coop Himmelb(l)au, ‘Architecture Must Blaze’ (1980)
12. Lebbeus Woods, ‘Manifesto’ (1993)
13. Patrik Schumacher, ‘Parametricism as Style – Parametricist Manifesto’ (2008)
14. Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, ‘The communist manifesto’ (1848)