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interview ISSN 2175-6708


O francês Antoine Picon, professor da Harvard Graduate School of Design e teórico preocupado com as múltiplas relações entre a arquitetura e a tecnologia digital, é entrevistado pela dupla de professores brasileiros Gabriela Celani e David Sperling.

Antoine Picon, a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and a theorist who is concerned with the multiple relationships between architecture and digital technology, is interviewed by the Brazilian duo Gabriela Celani and David Sperling.

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CELANI, Gabriela; SPERLING, David. Architecture makes life meaningful. Interview with Antoine Picon. Entrevista, São Paulo, year 19, n. 074.02, Vitruvius, jun. 2018 <>.

Tianjin Binhai Library, China, 2017, escritórios MVRDV + TUPDI
Foto divulgação [Website MVRDV]

Gabriela Celani and David Sperling: All the leading universities are emphasizing innovation nowadays. Stanford, MIT, Harvard. At the GSD you have the Design Engineering program, in which you are part of the faculty. Some people say this emphasis is actually a way to prepare the millennials' generation to be entrepreneurs because of the 21st century changes in employment patterns. Can you tell me a bit about GSD's motivation to create that program and describe its goals and outcomes?

Antoine Picon: It’s an interesting program because it says something about all the ways to be a designer. To be designing at the threshold of architecture and engineering but also at the threshold of designing things and designing systems. We will have in the years to come to profoundly redefine design education. This includes the role of history and theory, which have focused on objects. Objects are important but we need to find new ways to enlarge the scope of the students towards these new issues.

GC/DS: Many architectural offices are also emphasizing entrepreneurship and innovation. Perhaps the best example is Rem Koolhaas' AMO firm, which is a general consulting firm, but we have many other examples, like The WHY Factory, run by MVRDV and Delft University of Technology, OSA Open Source Architecture (, Tel-Aviv/Montreal) and LAVA Laboratory for Visionary Architecture (Stuttgart, Berlin, Sidney), which introduce themselves as research-based practices. Do you think the architecture profession as we know it from the 20th century is changing? What will it look like in the 21st century?

AP: I’m a bit critical about the research done by architects because it’s very often a justification, most of the time by the star architects, and when you look at the result I don’t think it’s fabulous, to be honest. To be a successful architect you need a discourse, you need to address things in a more systematic way, and there is a tendency today to say that’s research. I don’t think it’s always research. It’s certainly good that people at AMO or MVRDV receive the task to think more on the long run on things, but I’m a bit skeptical that that is going to transform the architectural profession. But maybe I’m being prejudicial because I’m an academic. But you don’t have time in a big practice; you are always running after the question. What we miss very often is the time to think deeply about many issues. Because you are running all the time. And you are running even more if you are in a professional practice.

GC/DS: So there is no connection between the Design Engineering program at GSD and these innovation-oriented architectural practices?

AP: In very large firms, like Microsoft, for example, you do have research. And you do have spatial problems and problems of design. So design is an expanding field and we need to prepare people to design things at a broader scale than just a building.

GC/DS: Amanda Levete recently gave a talk here and she mentioned the need for architects to be entrepreneurs.

AP: I think architecture has always been about entrepreneurship. If you are a successful architect you end up with employees. And you have to feed them month after month. If you’ve got a hundred employees that means you’ve got to make millions in the year, just to pay their salaries. And there are more and more large architectural firms. Without entering in a fancy discourse about research, I think architects are entrepreneurs. One of the fundamental differences between entrepreneurs and the academy is that entrepreneurs have to be optimistic. A student who was an entrepreneur and left to do a master’s of science told me that. You cannot be an entrepreneur if you think that the future is going to be worst than the present. Academics tend to be very often pessimistic. If you are an architect, even if you are cynical like Koolhaas, you have to be somewhat optimistic at least about the possibilities for you to grow, develop, etc.

GC/DS: Are you guys preparing them to be entrepreneurs here at the GSD?

AP: I’m trying to do that by fostering intellectual flexibility, which needs culture. Culture is not a collection of static recipes, it’s about learning how to evolve. History is about change. It’s no about something fixed. The place of history in a school of design is not only to see examples; it’s to think about change.

Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscou, Rússia, 2011-2015, arquitetos Rem Koolhaas e Ekaterina Golovatyuk
Foto divulgação [Website OMA]


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original: português

outros: english




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