Manner of Man Magazine: M/M Interview with Dr. Nikos Salingaros

How do you view architecture programmes? And have you witnessed a shift since you started your work?

I assume you mean architectural education. Here we have a problem because what I consider to be architecture, and what the schools consider to be architecture, are very different — even opposite — things. I feel a tremendous sadness at the enormous number of young people who are indoctrinated into a way of thinking — a defining worldview — that ignores fundamental human and even sacred qualities. And all of this because there exists an entrenched philosophical/pseudo-religious tradition of modernism that has to be perpetuated at all costs. Students have a meme implanted into their thinking, and for the rest of their life, they are servants to the stylistic dictates of “modernism”. Only a few of them ever wake up from this condition spontaneously. It’s extremely difficult to do so once indoctrinated, and that’s a great tragedy for our civilization.

As to any shift — I see none really: only entrenchment to protect the status quo and perpetuate what has apparently worked in the past. Given that schools are made up of architectural academics and architects who have had a modernist formation, not surprisingly, they see no need for revision. And if you are the Dean or Chair of an architecture school, you don’t want to risk losing NAAB accreditation by suggesting radical changes. There’s no motivation to look closely at any underlying problems, and my criticisms — or those of anyone else, if they are serious enough — are definitely unwelcome. Genuine innovations threaten the modernist paradigm, which has functioned well for as long as anyone can remember. Criticize as long as it’s “in-house”, but don’t rock the boat because it might sink, as they say.

There is one positive exception to this dismal situation. I continually encounter students awakening: a mature (i.e. graduate) student realizes that he/she has been given a misleading understanding of design and finds that genuinely nourishing architectural and urban form resembles the (rigorously condemned!) traditional typologies. Many of those students then contact me, asking me to direct their theses because they have nobody at their home institution that understands what they are looking for — the human dimensions of architecture. Thus, I find myself supervising and directing a dozen students from all over the world, most of whom I have not met personally. This at least represents a vast improvement from ten years ago. In those darker times, a student had no other choice than to submit to the ideology or change fields altogether, which unfortunately is still true in most of our institutions today.

via Manner of Man Magazine: M/M Interview with Dr. Nikos Salingaros.


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