THE SYSTEM* indicates the complex interaction of the economy, professional practice and personal choice. The asterisk draws attention to the ambiguity of such a term, while hinting at an intention to change ‘it’, whatever it is. In this issue of Volume, we’re dilating our pupils to focus on ‘the system’ itself, treating it as a result of, and therefore question of, design. As we are unfortunately well aware, lobbying is not enough to change the system. Applying strategies like leveraging, short-circuiting, disrupting and infecting might be more effective.
Shelter is most immediately associated today with conditions of disaster, displacement and destitution. There is an inherent urgency to the word; it is first and foremost a necessity, a human right even. Yet thought of as the absolute minimum necessary to survive, shelter is an architectural stigma. Shelter is not a thing though; shelter is a verb; if there is such a thing as shelter, it is because whatever it is, shelters. Volume #46: Shelter is dedicated to the question of how shelter can be reformulated as an architectural project.
One of architecture's histories is that of the art of display: architecture displaying power, political ambition, economic success, social agendas, or less mundane notions like dreams, convictions and belief. These days architecture has also become subjected to display: the display of architecture — in museums and collections, and in auctions for example. That adds but also distracts meaning; not every aspect of architecture can be displayed as easy. And what does a culture of display (be seen or perish) add to this condition?
There is a theory that the more organized (read: developed) a society is, the less self-sufficient it becomes. All sorts of services and amenities, from housing to energy, from culture to justice, are centrally organized and distributed. But is that necessarily so? Or are we heading for a new order in which decentralized and self-reliant become the norm?
In today’s rapidly changing world, the role of real estate has been affected deeply. To such a degree that the Center for Urban Real Estate at Columbia University sees an opportunity to transform the profession from within, stressing its creative potential and introducing an ethical code. This issue of Volume is dedicated to CURE’s ambition to create a continuum between architecture and real estate, as part of the design disciplines.