To Create Architecture

 'Einstein's Tomb' by Lebbeus Woods

'Einstein's Tomb' by Lebbeus Woods

 'Einstein's Tomb' by Lebbeus Woods

'Einstein's Tomb' by Lebbeus Woods

 Einstein's Tomb by Lebbeus Woods

Einstein's Tomb by Lebbeus Woods

"One looks for principles, but we are better off if we control them, not the other way around. Principles can become tyrants, foreclosing on our ability to learn. When they do, they, too, must be resisted."

- Lebbeus Woods (1940-2012)


I have been thinking about the creation of architecture and the general spirit of fear, acceptance and insularity pervading the field of architecture today. I have always believed in the ability to create something as one of the most powerful gifts of the human spirit. The word create is equivocal. It can extend to a parent creating a meal for their children, an entrepreneur creating an innovative product or a painter creating a painting.

It seems to me that architects and creative professionals in general, in their pursuit of relevance and mass recognition, have shifted their focus on everything but to create. They accept the economic climate, they accept the shifts in risks and responsibilities, they accept that times have changed. They operate in a constant state of acceptance. Yes, one might say that is more pragmatic. Anyone with a sound mind will argue for this. It is the easier side to take, after all. How many will argue against it? We cannot all be dreamers, can we? We cannot afford to, one might say. Well, I say it is never a good thing to have too many pragmatists in the same room.

I have always been able to evaluate things from multiple perspectives and be curious enough to try to understand each and every one of them. I believe in the relevance of every perspective because they are permutations and accumulations of the human condition. The world where a singular mindset governs all will is the world worth changing.

Yes, we can adapt. We can also create. I do not see these two acts as mutually exclusive. In fact, I suggest we do both. Inspired by and heavily referencing Lebbeus Woods' 'Resistance Checklist', I have created the 'Creation Checklist'. More of a helpful reminder than a manifesto, more of a personal list than a declaration, although I do wish it can be a source of inspiration, a powerful and positive force for you.


Creation Checklist:

Create whatever seems impossible.

Create situations of vulnerability.

Create work that is not moored by ideological preconceptions.

Create ideas that do not contain the word algorithm.

Create ideas that show architecture is not a building.

Create ideas that change the world as it is into the world as it should be.

Create hope.

Create your own jobs.

Create jobs.

Create paths of most resistance.

Create sources of influence beyond the appealing.

Create the desire to make a design based on a piece of music.

Create what you think is right.

Create a feeling that you will win.

Create clients.

Create situations where you can talk slower.

Create nothing if anyone asks you to design only the visible part.

Create drawings by hand.

Create assertions that the work of everyone is relevant.

Create the impulse to open an office.

Create questions to every answer.

Create a process that shows that the result is not the most important thing.

Create the demand to prove your ideas.

Create the idea that architects are Architects.

Create the feeling that you are not alone.

Create work that is better.

Create the assertion that architecture is more than a service profession.

Create the impulse to push forward when the rest stop.

Create the belief that architecture cannot exist without architects.

Create your own destiny.

Create your own fate.

Create the suggestion that you can do what you really want now.

Create ideas that do no contain the word interface.

Create ideas that do not contain the word function.

Create ideas that contain the word Culture.

Create ideas that show architecture is more than an investment.

Create the feeling that explanations are not necessary.

Create the claim that history is not concerned with the past.

Create the innuendo that you must be ambitious.

Create the realisation that nothing can be complete.

Create the opinion that it was absolutely intentional.

Create the judgement that it is only valid if you do not do it again.

Create the belief that architecture is not about designing things.

Create implications of insecurity.

Create words that They wish you would not write.

Create assumptions that the locus of power is here and now.

Create the belief that no one knows what will actually happen.

Create accusations that you have got the point.

Create the abolition of your autonomy.

Create the scorn of adversaries.

Create a discerning approach to the ready acceptance of friends.

Create the thought that life is extremely difficult.

Create the belated feeling that forgiveness is already within you.

Create the desire to stay.

Create the desire to leave.

Create the notion that sometimes you should compromise.

Create any thought that does not contain the word should.

Create the lessons of architecture that has once failed.

Create the idea that architecture expresses nothing.

Create the temptation to not do it just one more time.

Create the belief that architecture does not influence behaviour.

Create any idea that separates architecture and ownership.

Create the tendency to not repeat yourself.

Create that feeling of audacity.


By Steven Chu

Steven Chu is a Burmese-Australian architect and the Founding Director of Alter Atlas.

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