Archiculture: a documentary film that explores the architectural studio (full 25 min film)

Archiculture: a documentary film that explores the architectural studio (full 25 min film)

[Narrator] It captures people’s
imagination I think. [Narrator] First and foremost
architecture does affect people in ways that maybe
architects understand only after a building is built. People perceive architecture by simply being an
object or a vessel. Within which people are housed. And that’s clearly not what
our sense of architecture is. What the hell is an architect What does an architect do,
you know? What is the difference between
an architect and a builder? We concretize the world. We take human
activities and make manifest the
physical structures that accommodate all manner
of human activity. The design studio is a place
where individual action and individual creativity is
measured very directly but the people around them. The students are doing their
job with shifting the focus of how
we’re talking and thinking. About architecture. [Student] Before you come to
architecture school you sort of have this idea about
objects and things like that. And then once you get here
it becomes all about space. Now all that occupation,
people sort of see architecture like children, sort
of sculpturely. And there’s a point at which
you stop dealing with objects. You know, sort of things to
stare at and start dealing with occupation. [Student] I have
a lot of friends who find it hard
to understand my schedule here and how
we function here and being here on strange hours
of the day. And working environment.
And what studio space is like. [Student] And a way of
working, too. [Student] Yeah. [Student] That’s really
important. [Student] Yeah. [Student] But also
the idea of being critiqued. I know
what critique is. [Student] A foreign concept to a
business student. [Student] Yeah. [Tom] The design studio is a
place where students have to perform on
their own. They have to create something from their
own imagination. They have to create something in response
to a set of problems that are either given to them or they
have to even invent the problem. [Student] There’s
not a place where you can get this
kind of culture. And we’ve been together
for 5 years. The whole group, right?
So, we know everybody. Everybody knows everything. It’s like a second home.
It’s like a second community of people who are all struggling
with the same questions. [Student] Now when I worked at
home, it was so much lacking in the projects. There’s nobody to bounce
things off of. The inspiration is at a minimum
when you’re on your own. [Shigeru] Architectural
education in the U.S. is
one of the best because of the studio system.
All the students hanging around with their own studio. Talking
and learning from others. That is the most
important space for the education
of architecture. [Student] It’s
like having it. They were hitting
on Robert Moses. Because he’s so insensitive and
he tore down neighborhoods. This, that, and the other.
It’s, you know what? Get in the car, drive on the
Westside Highway. Take the Triborough into
Manhattan. [Student] Ok. [Student] And
then you will understand what he was trying to do.
That visual perception in the automobile.
Spectacular! [Student] No, no.
[Student] It is spectacular [Student} You’re thinking
about it now because of the atom. Now, we sit
in traffic and look at it. But back then, the city
had to make that transformation. [Tom] The great thing
about architecture schools is it’s still takes place… in a kind of space where people
discuss the work, together. In both a personal way and a
on-on-one way. And in a very
public way. Ultimately there’s
a kind of arena. There’s a public arena where the
work is discussed. Where students can present
themselves to personally to other people. And show that they
have a stake in the work, and what they really think
about the work and that’s extremely important,
I think, to the development of
an architectural project because that’s
ultimately how… architecture at certain
points has really developed in the real world. And it’s both
an important lesson But it’s also a way in which you know, through that kind
of intensely personal and human contact that…
That the work gets better. [Student] I do a lot of the
culture of studio trappings at the most random times.
So, like the most random hours. [laughing] [Student] I
have to go through this. [Student] Think the humor adds
another level of energy. [Student] So, you got moments
where we’re all joking around. We’re doing the work, and
we’re joking and we’re vibing [Student] and whatever.
Some guys can be like “Well, that’s why you guys never
get any work done” [Student] “because you’re
always doing this shit.” [Student] [Beep] you! [Student] Go do your project.
Live in your little world [Student] by
yourself because the human brings the
interaction. [Student] And then
the interaction brings the energy
and the energy [Student] creates an output
between everybody. [Student] that we can all
feed off of. [Student] Tomorrow morning.
Don’t forget, please? [Students laughing and joking] [Student] Now bounce. [Student] Everyone’s hanging
out. Smoking cigarettes and [Student]
drinking a lot of coffee and not
really necessarily [Student] at your desk drawing,
or whatever. [Student] Our teacher school is
a really strange, specific [Student] environment. [Student] work into something.
Like hours and hours on [Student] you know, 1 drawing,
whatever and make it productive. [Student] You know, you could
tell an architect that it’s [Student] due tomorrow and
they’ll put in the 12 hours [Student] It might actually look
the same, as if they spent [Student] a whole week on it.
You know? [Student] I should have gone
home earlier than I did. [Student] because I just like,
every 5 minutes I’d take a [Student] bit of glue and put
it somewhere. [Student] Becoming un-stopped.
And figuring out what [Student] the hell it is that
I just did. [Student] And start
clear thinking. [Student] I have this terrible
thing that happens to me. [Student] What I call
the Design High. [Student] Where I can’t
fall asleep because I can’t stop [Student] thinking about
my project. [Student] But it’s like,
I get home… [Student] the whole time
I’m exhausted. [Student] This ease I like,
brush my teeth, wash my face. [Student] I’m gonna do bad.
I need to get back to Studio. [Student] Your health is kind of
put on hold [Student] to make room for
your ideas. [Matthew] Architects are
masochists in some ways. [Matthew] You’re in there ’till
all hours of the night., [Matthew] You’re
cutting yourself at 3 o’clock in
the morning. [Matthew] Rush you to the
hospital and get stitches [Matthew] Putting
these models together that you’re tearing
apart and then [Matthew] putting them together
again. And you’re [Matthew] going for this
iterative process of evaluation [Matthew] that is incredibly
personal [Matthew] but yet also very
public. And you’re constantly [Matthew] putting yourself
on display. Opening yourself [Matthew] to attack and
criticism. It’s intense. [Matthew] Why would you subject
yourself to that and [Matthew] put yourself in that
position if you didn’t love it. [Student] [BEEP]
Ahh!!! God [Beep] [Instructor] That’s
the conceptual mistake. The
structured system [Instructor] does not simply fit
with each unit. [Instructor] Usually the style
of structure encompasses [Instructor] 3 or 4 units.
[talking at the same time] [Student] I understand but I
don’t see what that has to [Student] necessarily be the
case. [Instructor] It doesn’t. [talking at the same time] [Student] I understand that I
don’t have to but I think [Student] it’s important
for the resolution. [Instructor] It’s wrong, that’s
why. [Student] Why is it wrong? [Student] Tell us
why it’s wrong. [Instructor]
Economically. [Student] Not the wrong way.
[Instructor] Systems. [Student] You can take his
whole project in terms of [Student] the economy of it. [Instructor] But you do it?
[Student] Basically there’s [Student] these walls, like
this. In terms of his diagram. [Instructor] Yeah, it’s supposed
to have the other third [Instructor] with
wall structure. [Student] They’re
not completely [Student] ruined, so that the
area’s in between… [Instructor] It does not
make anything. [Student] It wasn’t necessary
to have that conversation. [Student] The point was made.
And then that’s it. [Student] I understood the
point. They understood my… [Student] I thought he
understood my point. [Student] I thought that
should be the end of it [Student] and there were more
important things to talk [Student] about and other people
that had to talk to him. [Student] You know? And still
talking about it for 20 minutes [Student] Well, one thing that
I always have an issue with [Student] is like, students get
so frustrated if they don’t [Student] have a good critique.
I think they misinterpret [Student] what a good critique
is. I mean, by definition [Student] it’s a critique. It’s
a criticism. [Student] So, if you go into a
critique and all the critics, [Student] all they
can do is blow hot air up your
ass and tell [Student] you how great
the project looks. [Student] To me, that’s not
a good critique. [Student] They didn’t
criticize anything. [Student] To me a good criticism
is if you can inspire [Student] enough thought
based on what they see [Student] and what they hear.
If it inspires enough thought [Student] then they will
criticize. Not criticize [Student] in the sense of
attacking. Criticize because [Student] whatever you
showed them inspired [Student] enough thought that
they had their own opinion [Student] about the thing now.
That’s a criticism. [Instructor] I’m not gonna argue
with you because I have a [Instructor] feeling it wouldn’t
be productive. [Instructor] We can
go on all night. [Student] We could.
I know that’s [Student] not the point.
[talking at the same time] [Instructor] We dare to find
some resting spot, here. [Student] Where we’re not
talking about the same thing. [Instructor] Allow
us to help you. [Instructor] The other thing I
think is sometimes negative [Kenneth] is the idea that
the student should be trained [Kenneth] to do a sales pitch
in this jury presence. [Kenneth] I think that first
the student should be silent. [Kenneth] And the jurors should
start asking questions about [Kenneth] the drawings and
try to understand the [Kenneth] project in a more
Socratic way, you know? [Kenneth] Other than this sales
pitch followed by criticism. [Instructor] If you’re a smart
architecture student, you’re [Instructor] listening very
closely because you’re not only [Instructor] interested in how
that work is coming out of you [Instructor] but also how other
people are seeing it. [Phil] The best architects,
in my view, are the ones [Phil] who bring a coherent
view of the world [Phil] to design. Those
are the folks that become [Phil] the best architects
in the sense that they’re the [Phil] ones that progress the
profession, innovate, [Phil] create new ideas.
The most important thing about [Phil] being an architect is
learning how to think clearly. [Phil] You have to be able
to think clearly to [Phil] practice architecture. [Thom] You can, kind of see
the same people as singular. [Thom] If your artistic, you’re
not practical. You’re practical [Thom] and not
artistic that’s totally preposterous.
Architecture [Thom] is embedded in
both worlds and if anything [Thom] architecture is the
connect-a-tissue between [Thom] these two kind of
spheres. And it would be [Thom] impossible
without one or the other. [Phil] One, we’d be practical
and never produce a piece of [Phil] work of any interest.
Yeah, you’d be producing [Phil] work that has no meaning.
And no connectivity. [Joe] I think design require a
certain kind of smartness. [Joe] It holds those
schizophrenic views
simultaneously. [Joe] In one’s thinking, even as
a young person [Joe] you know whether you
can do that. [Joe] and as you mature
it’s quite rewarding to have [Joe] those imposing views in
your mind at all times. [Terry] There’s not just one
role for an architect. There’s [Terry] different kinds of
contributions an architect [Terry] can make in the culture.
The question of what’s a [Terry] good architect, I think
that there are many different [Terry] perspectives that come
at the project, [Terry] as it’s developing.
And what’s important for the [Terry] architect is to be able
to listen to people outside of [Terry] themselves.
And take that, and [Terry] then give something of
yourself to a project and [Terry] make something
incredibly unique and wonderful. [Terry] It has to
be a person who’s really willing to
learn in a way [Terry] that architects need to
learn, which is they need to [Terry] learn
something every day for the rest of
their lives. [Terry] You’ve got to be, in a
sense, kind of driven by [Terry] that inner force. But I
think you always… [Terry] You also have to have
the ability to work through [Terry] something and to be
able to look at particular [Terry] and be able to listen
and learn and examine with [Terry] great patience, some of
those questions. So again, [Terry] it’s kind of left brain,
right brain kind of dichotomy that is constantly… Those
demands are constantly placed [Terry] on you as an architect. [Maurice] The other disciplines
bring other things to the table. [Maurice] But I think our
ability to envision, or imagine [Maurice] something that is
not there. [Maurice] It’s almost spooky to
people. This notion that you can [Maurice] look at a site or
look at a parking lot and see [Maurice] and see a building?
It’s an extraordinary skill. [Maurice] And we are one of
the few disciplines that can [Maurice] do that. I would
not trade for anything [Maurice] the skill-set that I
learned in school. [Maurice] Because
it’s very, very, very unique to
our discipline. [Maurice] And that’s what we
bring to the table. [Mary] I don’t
believe schools of architecture,
either historically [Mary] or today,
have particularly prepared young
architects [Mary] for the realities of
architectural practice. [Mary] Referring to this notion
of safe space, where one can [Mary] fail. Where one can push
the envelope, in a sense. [Mary] I think the academy
always needs to be that. [Mary] In a certain
sense, you’ll get freer of the
constraints of the [Mary] real world.
We need to understand that
those constraints [Mary] also have to be brought
into the academy, so that [Mary] students
can begin dealing with it and dealing
with it in [Mary] an inventive and
creative way. [Mary] I think the
academy should be a, kind of,
idealized space. [Mary] But it also has to be a
kind of laboratory, a testing [Mary] ground for
the real world. And I don’t think
we’re so good [Mary] with the ladder. We are
still that ivory tower. [Student] Sometimes I think we
lose a little bit of the reality [Student] of what are job is.
And what our profession
is really about. [Student] I think people really
forget the reality of what it’s [Student] gonna be like to be
working as professionals. [Student] Architecture school is
really… You need to because [Student] it’s probably the only
time that many architecture [Student] students get to work
on their own projects. [Student] After
that, architecture is basically a
service industry. [Student] I think
that the profession is a lot different
than the [Student] education, in that you
never work alone. [Student] It’s hard to design an
entire building by yourself. [Student] There’s other people
that you have to network with. [Student] Or design with.
Or consult. Collaboration is not
usually present [Student] in school. Which is a
good thing and a bad thing. [Student] Because during school
you’re trying to develop your [Student] own sort
of way of working. [Instructor] Very fast. And you
only go, listen to what I say. [Dan] Education is not
preparing them to be [Dan] some kind of architects
in the full sense of [Dan] the word, architect. Being
both poets and practitioners. [Dan] They don’t
want to be fooled. They’re talented,
they’re smart. [Dan] The tragedy is that the
students are not sufficiently [Dan] prepared to be independent
thinkers. [Dan] If they have the function
at the poetic level [Dan] or they function at the
pragmatic level. [Dan] The two shall never meet.
So we have to, kind of, [Dan] help them put those
two together. [Student] Like a
series of overlays where you’d
start to see if [Student] there’s [inaudible] [Instructor] So the walls are
retaining walls. [Inaudible conversation] [Instructor] If you give me a
word right now, we can only [Instructor] respond to it.
Let me ask you this. [Instructor] Why
are they working just to put
these things… [Student] They’re making things.
Yeah. [Instructor] And they’re making
things because they want to [Instructor] create something of
value, right? [Student] Yes. [Instructor]
Why do the just want to [Instructor] put it in storage. [Student] Do I think I might
not be an architect? Sure. [Student] The
likelihood that I work in an office
after I graduate [Student] is pretty high though.
I don’t think people have to [Student] be stuck there for
like 3 years and then [Student] get their license and
then they do their own stuff. [Student] I’m gonna start doing
my own stuff [Student] and work in an office. [Student] I look forward to… [Student] It’s hard to say
what’s gonna happen. [Student] I’m excited to see
what my signature ends up being. [Student] I wanna teach and I
wanna write, and I wanna work [Student] for a friend that will
let me do all these things. [Student] I wanna get some
experience in a larger firm. [Student] to see how they work
and see how they operate. [Student] Do
that and then hopefully the long
term goal is to [Student] you know, start my own
practice. [Mary] The remarkable thing
to me is how optimistic [Mary] students of
architecture are. [Mary] How they sustain
that optimism. [Mary] Again, it’s almost a
bit like an actor or actress [Mary] truths that they still
cherish that belief that they’re [Mary] gonna break out of
the chorus line in some way. [Mary] Even though the reality
as it is on Broadway [Mary] is very, very different.
In part it could be [Mary] how they very quickly
imbibe this notion of the [Mary] store architect, and this
belief that against all odds [Mary] that they might be able
to make it. [David] Fortunately
a lot of people when they think
of architecture [David] think of
what storeitects. They think
of where the [David] handful of brand name
architects that they might have [David] heard of. Which to me
is rather limiting. [Student] You only know Frank
Gehry, you know? [Student] I mean there’s other
architects out there that [Student] that are doing better
work or work more important [Student] than getting… [Instructor] The problem is that
the way we teach architecture [Instructor] right now is we
sort of train everybody to do [Instructor] that
exact same thing. The whole sort
of pedagogical [Instructor] model right now is
around creating [Instructor] the next generation
of star architects. [Instructor] That’s
actually a flawed model. [Ted] For many years, everyone
wanted to be [Ted] like Frank Gehry.
They wanted to create [Ted] great sculptures in the
landscape. [Ted] Whether those sculptures
worked or not [Ted] is largely irrelevant.
The ability to use [Ted] aerospace engineering to
come up with forms that [Ted] hadn’t been built before.
Was considered [Ted] to be a primary task of
someone coming out of school. [Ted] That’s over.
That’s over. [Evan] I would argue that this
current generation of [Evan] beginning students of
architecture [Evan] have the capacity to
reshape the world [Evan] like we’ve
never seen before. And they need
to have access [Evan] to as much technology
and as much discourse [Evan] meaningful discourse
surrounding these techniques [Evan] and these tools.
So that they’re fully prepared [Evan] to go out into the world
in the future [Evan] to do something positive
and productive. [Instructor] Students are coming
out. They’re working with [Instructor] individuals
around the world who need [Instructor] shelter and who
need ways of living that are [Instructor] affordable and
supportable and sustainable. [Instructor] The
students themselves have been pushing
to force [Instructor]
faculty to think differently. About
the way faculty [Instructor] see the environment
use the environment [Instructor] and create objects
that serve, not just the [Instructor] esthetic
interests of the architect. [Instructor] It’s fundamental an
optimistic profession. [Maurice] You
don’t go into architecture if
your a pessimist. [Maurice] If you don’t actually
believe that [Maurice] the world
can get better. [Maurice] So, I think you got a
bunch of optimists [Maurice] that
go into this designer profession,
they actually [Maurice] believe
that their buildings are gonna make
a difference [Maurice] in somebody’s life.
[Student] I think that the best [Student] environment is
something that people [Student] have appreciation for. [Student] If you
don’t care about this, like what do
you care about? [Student] It’s about
understanding human behaviour. [Student] Being a designer of
human want. [Student] All the
extra is what you experience in
your daily life. [Student] On the street,
the space of the street, [Student] how you navigate
the street, how you relate [Student] to the buildings
around you. [Instructor] People tend to
think architecture is done [Instructor] for and
by other people. [Instructor] But, it’s also
done by you if you decide to [Instructor] put a new window
in your house or [Instructor]
change the traffic flow in your house
or your office. [Student] At architecture school
you got the freedom to… [Student] You
don’t like something? Do
something about it. [Student] That’s what they told
you for 5 years. [Student] Do something about it.
Doesn’t matter what. [Student] Just do something
about it. [Instructor] This school is,
kind of about a way of thinking [Instructor] And
what you’re gonna do in architecture
school is [Instructor] not what you think
it’s gonna be, you know? [Instructor] They aren’t gonna
go in there and [Instructor] you
know, be designing [Instructor] a colonial home and
things like that. [Student] We don’t just need
shelter, we need atmosphere [Student] We live
to be inspired. [Student] I think one of the
most important things you can [Student] take from this school
is not to lose your ambition. [Student] It’s not just, you
know, 4 walls and a roof. [Student] There’s more into it.
There’s a life to it that… [Student] I think
we get here and we should really
take with us [Student] every way to go. [Student] If you’re gonna come
to architecture school [Student] I hope you understand
the creative process. [Student] I hope you understand
the transformation that your [Student] mind and body an
psyche is gonna go through. [Student] Because there is
nothing absolute about this. [Student laughing]
[both laughing] [Student] What do you think
about that, Mr. Zacoy? [Student] Yeah, making a
movie, huh? [Student] Trying. [Student] Sure you are.

2 thoughts on “Archiculture: a documentary film that explores the architectural studio (full 25 min film)

  1. I'm so glad I didn't follow my dad's foot steps. He graduated in late 60's, early 70's from one of the most difficult architectural schools in Italy. I just don't have the creativity to do this. I don't have that gene.

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