What does one do while on a two week road trip in the Ozarks? Aside from relaxing by a lake, touring the beautifully situated Clinton Library, or visiting the faraway Thorncrowne Chapel near the upper NW corner of the state, if you’re a driven architectural fiend like me, you could write a TEDx proposal.
That’s what I did.
Maybe you remember from last May or June, TEDx 2014 was specifically calling for architects to submit a 100 word proposal looking back on 30 years of the most important developments in architecture. I was excited by this offer and wanted to learn some deeper truths about what had been the standout accomplishments and discoveries in the field of architecture.
Aside from air-conditioning and the elevator, I couldn’t really think of anything that excited me– and those were invented long before 1984. Not Post-Modernism, certainly not AutoCAD (well, maybe I was being picky), and definitely NOT LEED– far too pedestrian. Was it some type of new curtain wall assembly? That, too, was a bit mundane and I realized I was in danger of taking important breakthroughs in construction technology for granted in thinking that way.
Despite being pressed for time and not having thoroughly researched the topic as I’d wanted to, I was determined to bang something out. The relatively new book 100 Ideas That Changed Architecture would certainly have been a good jumping off point- now, what dates did that book encompass…?? (too bad it was setting at home on the countertop in my closet). And there were the other books I was concurrently reading that would inform me of the history of architectural practice in the 1980s and 1990s: Dana Cuff’s Architecture: The Story of Practice, Spyro Kostof and Dana Cuff’s The Architect: Chapters in the History of the Profession, and a more recent book, a compendium of essays and articles edited by Mario Carpo called The Digital Turn in Architecture 1992-2012 by AD Reader; it’s similar in vein to this phenomenal blog post (that I literally discovered tonight via a Google search for Mario’s book as I write this post at the library): A History of Parametric by Daniel Davis. << Folks, this latter link is a MUST read!
I didn’t have these books with me. They didn’t make the cut when packing for our journey, despite the 5 suitcases we’d brought with us. And, besides, the 12:00 midnight submission deadline was looming (and I wasn’t sure if it was on CST or EST).
Luckily, after a bit of savvy negotiating with my husband over proper use of time on our vacation, I scurried to write down my thoughts and submit the following proposal via email in time to meet the deadline.
Here it is for your reading pleasure.
TED 2014 RFP – PROPOSAL BY TARA IMANI, AIA, CSI
My basis: “To build is human, to design Divine.”
Proposed Title of my TED Talk: “Gimme Shelter”
While the audience sits in anticipation, in a theater in the round, a 360 degree movie begins to play and displays images of all the most iconic architectural buildings- and some mundane, ordinary buildings, too- are shown in rapid succession. The background music will begin with the theme song of my talk: “Gimme Shelter” by the Rolling Stones, giving a retro feel in juxtaposition to the futuristic computers each audience member will be given (that they will use to participate in the talk—donning Virtual Reality goggles and holding small tablets which they will alter the presentation or participate in designing a future modern house or lifestyle multistory complex on cue).
After the initial visual and audio burst, I will emerge on stage dressed as an actress/dramatist/speaker and- in the silence of the arena- I will ask the audience:
“Now… after seeing all that we’ve built, all that we’ve collectively created, I ask you: What have been the most important advancements in architecture over the past 30 years?” I will answer: “The answer is: Nothing; it was all Status Quo.”
And then I will present my list of chasms, grievances, statistics, and will show proof and evidence of how architecture has failed to take advantage of new technologies BUT how as a professional community- working together- we can change that by embracing:
- Prefab Buildings
- A Return to Craftsmanship
- Better Client and Public Communications via 3D design programs
- Disaster Preparedness [Solutions] created in advance of the event
I will end with the audience designing a new building that will appear on the 360 degree screen.
Well, that’s it. That was my TEDx 2014 submittal.
I will refrain from critiquing my own work and leave that to you, the gentle reader.
Allow me to say one thing: many TEDx talks have an air of dazzle to them. The speaker seeks to shock the audience by making an audacious claim and then backing it up or taking them on a journey to resolved the stated problem
In retrospect, I think my assertion was overblown and too unbelievable- that architecture had merely maintained a status quo practice for the past 30 years. I know there must have been great accomplishments.
Now I only need to pinpoint what were these great break-throughs.
It’s Your Turn!
So, what would your TEDx talk include? What is the biggest invention of architecture from 1984-2014? In what direction do you think architecture needs to go in the next 10- 20 years?
Please feel free to comment below.
Thanks for reading!
P.S. I recently read where the new stage design for the TEDx 2014 Conference is indeed going to be a more interactive theater in the round: check out this interview of the architect on Charlie Rose as written about by @Archdaily.