architect/artist: Wolf D. Prix
interview title: Stars create Added Value: Interview with Wolf D. Prix
interviews compilation no: T-45
interview format: Text
date: Annual 2006
appeared in: Business Location Austria
interviewer: Roland Kanfer
(as appeared in Web page)
“Architects have to be avant-garde and strategic in their thinking. It is difficult for young architects today to get across their own profile, to make a name for themselves and then to push things through.”
Interview with Wolf D. Prix
STARS CREATE ADDED VALUE
“Architecture has to sizzle,” say Wolf D. Prix and Helmut Swiczinsky, who founded Coop Himmelb(l)au 38 years ago. The former experimental architects are now engaged in planning major projects. Below is an interview with Wolf Prix, the front man for the Coop, on vision and reality in architecture, the role of the media in the building process, and the future of architectural training.
After 38 years, Coop Himmelblau has finally made it and joined the establishment....
I should hope so!
Is architecture for you just visionary design or does it also entail making that vision a reality?
Built architecture is the three-dimensional expression of our society. The more complex the society, the more complex the architecture has to be.
Do you agree with those who say that architecture is shaped by the conflicting forces of art, business and politics?
Of course. Architecture expresses the tensions that exist between these three fields.
How can an architect prevail in the face of these conflicting forces?
He has to think strategically. He cannot allow himself to be the mere agent of the developer and bow to alleged factual restraints, although that happens with increasing frequency. Architects would then soon cease to exist. We would become painters of pictures conveying special moods.
Developers use the term star architect to market their buildings.
That probably has something to do with function, architecture and appearance. All developers know that they are getting a special building. Might it not be that we, the star architects, think conceptually, rationally and argumentatively and that this additional thought, in turn, creates added value?
What role do you think the media play in architecture and in construction? Do they promote mediocrity in architecture?
The media are important for conveying content. When the discussion becomes shallow and confines itself to star architects, a distorted picture emerges of the architects’ responsibility.
How would you describe that responsibility?
Architects have to be avant-garde and strategic in their thinking. It is difficult for young architects today to get across their own profile, to make a name for themselves and then to push things through.
Is the existence of the Chamber of Architects in its present form still justified?
These guilds for artists are an inadmissible form of protection for mediocrity. But there has to be an instrument for supporting architects. What is needed is an association to represent the interests of the architects without being a mere tool of the building industry.
But that organisation doesn’t necessarily have to be the Chamber. For instance, IG Architektur is emerging as an interest association.
That too is a chamber, just more recent. That is what is so appalling about our society, that the very individuals who step forth to make changes are soon no better than the people they set out to change. What this country needs is a discussion, emanating from the universities yet also carried into the universities. Austria has six schools of architecture. There would be a chance here if people weren’t dozing off.
What should we be doing to prepare students of architecture for the future?
We should be giving them strategic training on conception and realisation. Integrative thinking and development of strategies is the future for architects. Our school is positioned, just as we are, at the juncture of idea, conception and realisation.
By Roland Kanfer