The Inherent Goodness of Architecture

"It occurs to me, as i struggle to craft this reply, that there is a presupposed inherent goodness in architecture. That there cannot be bad architecture. Because the “badness” would preclude it from being architecture. That too, would be an interesting topic to delve into."

And so, i delve...

Flat Iron BuildingSome time ago, i wrote a post about what constitutes architecture in which i asserted that a building need not necessarily be the end result in order for something to be considered architecture. A while later, my friend Lee Calisti over at think | architect wrote a post titled "moment it becomes architecture" in which he posited a slightly different opinion. And while we might not see eye to eye on that particular topic, in our brief banter back and forth, i came to realize there is seems to be an assumed inherent goodness to architecture. At least it seems to be spoken of that way by architects.

Maybe it has to do with our egos. Maybe it stems from an underlying elitism.

There is no bad architecture.

There are bad buildings to be sure. Bad designs, yes. Poorly thought out details, most certainly. But bad architecture? No. That is to say, once something is granted the status of being called "architecture", it is assumed there is a certain level of goodness to it. Otherwise, it would never be granted that status.


It would be more philosophically consistent for me to say there can be bad architecture. In that i want to say the involvement of an architect is a necessary and sufficient condition for something to be considered architecture. But to be perfectly honest, i too have often talked about architecture as though it can only be good. That bad buildings simply are not architecture. Wanting desperately to distinguish between mere building and Architecture. And maybe there is something to be said for that distinction. Or even a distinction between architecture and Architecture. Then again, maybe not.

Maybe it is just a desperate attempt to validate my profession.

Or perhaps it simply does not matter. They are only words after all.

But it think words do matter. How we use them. How we assign meaning to them. It is important that words mean something. And that their meaning is precise.

photo-1430840181928-f99125c6538dIt turns out it is a much more complicated issue than i once presupposed. One that is not easily answered. And certainly one that i would be hesitant to be dogmatic about.

Of course requiring "goodness" as a necessary condition of "architecture" instills a certain level of subjectivity into the discussion of what is architecture. What qualities define goodness? Who is the judge of said goodness?


What do you think? Can architecture be bad? Or does it fail to rise to the status of architecture if it does not attain a certain level of goodness?






Photo Cedits: All images used are licensed under Creative Commons Zero. Images were obtained from Unsplash and are credited to Anthony Delanoix, Kaleb Nimz, and Jeff Hendricks respectively.

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