about the notion of architectural authorship and fame
The public is only aware of a few architects, the so-called ‘starchitects’, which create major building projects and are present even in nonspecialist press. Unfortunately architectural fame does not follow the principle of ‘honour to whom honour is due’ but mostly reveres a single person for the efforts of many others. Furthermore “fame cuts across the categories of architectural quality” and can depend on a lot of side effects of the profession. This means that the institution architecture allow individuals to become famous not only by remarkable efforts in building but also through exceptional designs or simply ideas conveyed in books or through lectures. As this foreshadows, the notion of architectural authorship is highly questionable and invites close discussion. This essay will concentrate on the perception of the architect as an author and the implied ideals that follow this notion. As those notions vary greatly over time and with context, this essay tries to capture a general image of it. First, the contemporary presentation of the architect in his role as an author and person of public interest is illustrated and examined. What characterises this conception, and how does media nowadays reflect it? Is it appropriate to look up to architects like pop stars? And is there an alternative collaborative model of architectural authorship? Moreover, to get a deeper insight into the matter, the origin of current attitudes is revealed and analysed by means of historic development. Why do we at all regard the architect as an author similar to an artist, personalise ‘his’ work and reward his achievements with fame? The emphasis here lies on the 18th century and draws back‐links to contemporary attitudes. In conclusion the questionable contemporary mentality is examined in relation to its origin and the possibility of alternative models of architectural authorship is evaluated.
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