The architect as policy-whisperer

Architecture – the critical embodiment of social consensus – depends 100% on political policy. Despite the fact that each social, economical or ecological challenge unavoidably materializes in society’s space, it must be stated that political decision makers are insufficiently aware of architecture’s relevance and impact for future policy making. Moreover, the architectural discipline is often extremely hesitant to truly and pro-actively engage with political topicalities.

Within this realm of degré zéro risk taking the role and position of the architect should be put up for fundamental recalibration. How can the architect become – anew – a relevant social confidant, a perhaps slightly more invisible yet even more so effective middle-man, a co-designer of policy instruments through the vantage point of architecture?

As a policy whispering practice studio swinnen invites students to examine how unsolicited and pre-emptive architecture could be put to the societal task. The prime assumption of the studio is for contemporary architecture to arise much earlier in the process; even before a client knows he is a client, well before the brief is written.

An architecture that no longer appeases the mere execution of a project brief, but a political practice whereby the architect can act as a steering policy whisperer, using architecture as a civic means – a public good – to refocus and inform political reality and equitably shape the societal space we increasingly share.

Our policy whispering practice will aim at a new political seriousness and an unseen spatial pleasure, strung together by a clear and agonistic act of architecture.

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