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Architecture is a team discipline. Marcin Mostafa and Natalia Paszkowska on the profession of architecture

22 of July '20

What does it mean to be an architect today? What are the conditions for practicing this profession? In the series "The Architect's Profession" we address these two questions to Polish architects and female architects, and illustrate their statements with unrealized office projects. In today's installment of the series - Natalia Paszkowska and Marcin Mostafa from the WWAA studio.

Marcin Mostafa
i Natalia Paszkowska

Marcin Mostafa and Natalia Paszkowska

Photo: Krzysztof Pacholak © WWAA

1 What does it mean to be an architect today?

Design, any, including architectural design, is a field that undoubtedly requires, on the one hand, analytical skills, on the other, sensitivity. Their use makes it possible to sketch an author's solution to a given problem. The next path is a negotiation (with the entire peri-architectural world and its representatives), in the course of which the final materialization of the project emerges. On this path, the most important thing is to infect key partners (sometimes it can be the designer, the official, mostly the investor, often the contractor) with his vision. Thus, an architect executing his projects is first and foremost a negotiator, mediator, translator, salesman, psychologist (and/or coach). On top of that, he interacts with professional groups with different language, code and work culture, habits, and finally, they have, by definition, differently set priorities (Pritzker vs. profit vs. quality of space vs. no claims). This, in turn, leads to political literacy. A successful architect does politics, and the bigger projects he implements, the broader and less homogeneous his electorate (which can lead to populism).

2 What are the conditions for practicing architecture?

Due to the pace of investment projects and their level of both technical and procedural complexity, architecture today is basically only a team discipline. Interestingly, it is not perceived as such. There is no awareness of architectural "specializations," there is an expectation of complete knowledge and competence at every stage, in every area (which inevitably leads to tension and frustration). The architect's role as coordinator of various teams is growing, and management skills are becoming crucial, on par with design competence. This is demanded by the holy grail of our time: process optimization.

As a society, we have become rich enough to desire to live in designed cities, neighborhoods, homes and interiors. At the same time, we are faced with global challenges that require responsible choices, restraint and sometimes resignation. As architects, we feel the tension between these tendencies, not to say that our position is even schizophrenic.



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