The Client: and Her Architects
Director Biennale Architecture, 2002
9th October 2010, 2:00 p.m.
The way that architects and architectural critics discuss architecture is very often to exclude, whether deliberately or not, any consideration or view point but that of the architect. It becomes a private, abstract and perhaps anaemic conversation. It misses the impact of life, and character on the making and the experience of architecture. That is why Ila Beka and Louis Lemoine’s film on the Bordeaux house designed by Rem Koolkaas was so refreshing. It took as its viewpoint for its exploration of architecture the domestic perspective of the cleaner. It might not have had much to say about the personal circumstances of the client, and the relationship he had with Koolhaas, but it has something fresh to say about how architecture exists in the world outside the architectural ghetto.
The relationship between architect and client is a fascinating one, a rich field for exploration of the impact of ego and ambition that of course comes from both sides of the relationship.
Ever since I first read of the law suit that Mies van der Rohe brought against Dr Edith Farnsworth in pursuit of unpaid fees for the Farnsworth House, and the interview she gave House Beautiful in which she described Mies as "UnAmerican", I have wanted to know more about the realities of the design process, by what it is that drives individuals to commission architecture, and the part that they play in shaping that process.
For October 9, I have invited a number of individuals who have played a distinguished part in commissioning architects, including Zhang Xin, responsible for the Great Wall Commune project outside Beijing, and Julia Peyton Jones, director of the Serpentine Gallery, for a dialogue with the architects that they have worked with. The aim is to explore what really shapes the creative process.