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Architecture is only a Communication Medium

Architecture is only a communication medium because architects don’t actually build anything. They give bits of paper to builders. That’s it. But this is the professions opportunity. As sophisticated communicators, architects can activate cultural change through communication. This is the only method which can effect global cultural change in a scalable manner.

The young Swedish girl with her cardboard placard is a communicator. She uses a raw, simple street-based communication strategy that is authentic and captivating. She incites hate by conveying a simple empathic message holding a cardboard sign. What the? She doesn’t kill anything, she doesn’t destroy anything, she doesn’t hurt anyone. How can you hate a communicator? Because communicators can change the world. They are a threat to the existing politico-economic system which offers profound profits to dominant entities.

This paper will argue that architectural communicators can become change agents like Greta Thunburg with fearless, populist, open source ideas with one goal: to propose habitation that attempts to fix the ecological mess that humans are creating.

The questions to respond to include: Can a communication strategy activate cultural change? What if artists and creatives reclaimed the city and treated the city as one big urban hack that inspires communities to transform built environments? Can architects activate the tribe mentality to propose buildable solutions that regenerate our cities and suburbs? What would regenerative suburbia look and feel like? Perhaps this is too utopian but what choice do we have.

This paper will explore how the profession can cast off its elitist shackles (as evidenced in Archdaily) and genuinely respond to climate change? Could an architect, or an architectural student, create a habitation movement with no budget? If so what would that movement look like? Greta Thunburg does it with a muted communication strategy which combines simple language and an ascetic aesthetic. Can we?

We will propose a simple strategy that presents a ‘No Budget Grassroots Campaign’ which fuses traditional media, digital media and street communication as an urban activation to change how we live.

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