ARCHITECTURE: the contrivance of materials into habitable forms as symbolic expressions of power

Architecture is the professional enterprise which contracts to build a structure... ostensibly as an accommodation or shelter... but principally as a concrete statement about the ruling influence which the client aspires to give expression to. A proclamation of power is the evident assertion of every bank, fort, church, mansion, government building and sky-scraper that has ever been constructed. From the most outrageously ostentatious structures, to the most modest of alterations, the statement presented by an architect must incorporate sufficient elements to ensure that the substance, import and power of the client can be readily appreciated. It is the symbols of power, impregnability and permanence, that are the primary considerations for an architecture that contracts to deliver to the clients, a realization of their pretensions. Architecture has promoted and bound itself to be the advertising agency for power and wealth.

Most of the population of the world will neither make use of the services of an architect nor ever meet one in the flesh. Nomads and the legions of tenting tourists have minimal need for soaring towers, geometric expressions of form or awe-inspiring interiors. Troglodytes adapt to geologically designed interiors, and leave the exterior to look after itself. Slum-dwellers just fix together a few sheets of iron or cardboard into a shape that fits into the space available and call it home. For very many on this earth, the pragmatic necessity is that they will have to construct their own shelter themselves. It is only when an individual or group acquires sufficient resources to be able to contract out the construction of a building, that consideration is given to the possibility that a member of the architectural species could be employed to design and supervise a structure that gave expression to their specifications.

Historically, various styles of architecture evolved around the main sources of money and resources of the time. All the main civilizations... roman, greek, european, chinese, incas, etc... developed distinctive building forms which were shaped by the availability of materials and the fashion preferences and power aspirations of the individuals providing the money. In fact... as an aside... the affliction of tourism is frequently precipitated by an uncontrolled compulsion to view diverse exotic architectural remnants, in an attempt to stimulate a rush of awe at the fossils of an extinct power. The modern situation is influenced somewhat more by centres of training. Educational institutes of architecture are established in order to devise certain forms, which are then promoted to a pliant populace, as being symbolic of a contemporary style. Architecture as an arena of endeavour however, can classify itself as much as it likes into the various schools of 'rationalism' or 'modernism' or 'brutalism' or whatever, and bandy about the parameters of form and function and materials and so on, until it talks itself into believing in its own significance, but the over-riding consideration for every project is nothing more nor less, than the desire of the client to put on a visible display of self-serving aggrandizement.

Designing for function and convenience is the domain of pragmatic common sense... not of architecture. The layout of a potting shed needs to have been thought through in the light of all the usual activities that are performed, and the shed supervisor is more likely than the architect to know what is involved. The defenders of a fort, the servants of a bank or the members of a church will all know as much... if not more... than any architect that is undertaking to create a grand and imposing cosmic structure. The practicalities of common sense are distributed widely amongst those individuals who have acquired the relevant familiarity, and that may well not include the architect. Designing a habitation... wherein the comforts and conveniences of the users becomes uppermost... is an activity that depends upon specific detailed knowledge and is simply called 'experience'.