Diverging trajectories of architect, user and client

The process behind every urban artifact is often reduced to the intellectual work of its designer alone. Underneath this simplified narrative, lays the conflictual relationship between the client and the architect, that historically defined different patterns in Architecture. This delicate balance produced a coded language of shapes, forms and decorations, which through centuries has contributed in producing the man-made ever growing cities of today. Solid and timeless, architecture has played the role of a univocal and undeniable tool of power. Of course, variation and customization have always been key features in this delicate relationship between architect and client. As for the exceptional case of Marjorie Merriweather Post Hutton and her husband E. F. Hutton, who built one of the first and largest penthouses in 1925: their triplex apartment had not less than 54-rooms and 17 bathrooms, all individually personalized. Nevertheless, until the end of the modernist project, the excess of variation was constrained into a rigid but comforting taxonomy of typologies.

GruppoTorto, Do It Yourself (Tour Bois le Prêtre/Lacaton & Vassal), 2018

Highlighting this rather tangled evolution through case-studies can help to become aware of a problematic dynamic that is perhaps putting architecture at stake. The described figures are by no means equally relevant to a project and can have a considerable impact on the architectural result. This depends highly on its direct context. It is important to stress that the architectural design process involves many actors and varies according to the wider historical, cultural and social conditions.

Read the full article on MONU #28, Client-Shaped Urbanism