Category

Architecture

The Servant Architect’s Manifesto

By Architecture

Architecture and design should be regarded as an act of service. Few things we can do as designers are more humbling than getting to meet a need of people like shelter. The act of designing a building for someone is a service, but the building will continue to serve those who inhabit (and indeed, even just see) it. Therefore, architects should acknowledge the tremendous responsibility and privilege of getting to create spaces and design spaces with people in mind, with the posture of being a servant to their fellow man. 

Just as a skilled carpenter seeks out the best tools for her/his shop, so too should the architect collect tools for their practice. These tools may be physical tools, software, visualization and drawing techniques, communication skills, or even simple workflow improvement tips. The architect should seek out a wide set of these tools, both analog and digital, and be constantly innovating her/his craft to work efficiently, communicate their ideas clearly, and produce better work. There is always a right tool for each job, and using the wrong tool for the job will just lead to frustration and inferior work.

Every building an architect designs should be a response to the unique set of circumstances that necessitated that building’s creation. The job of an architect is to take in all of the factors that influence a building (program, site, location, etc) and output designs that respond uniquely to the inputs. 

The servant architect must be a good steward of the space that their design is taking up. Sustainability must be addressed in both the means of production and the ongoing day-to-day life of the building. This might mean building smaller buildings with fewer glass curtain walls. It may mean spending more on formaldehyde free lumber. While the most sustainable design is not always the best or most practical design, some compromise can be reached that addresses sustainability while still letting the design intents come through.

Architecture should be aware of where it is without being chained down by vernacular architecture. The true identity of a building is a three-legged stool that rests on what the building is used for, what the building looks like, and where the building is. This does not mean, however, that the architect should be weighed down by every local building custom; architecture should both be a reflection of local culture and a global civilization. Showing one without the other leaves the building with no sense of place or no connection to the broader world of architecture.