Today as I contemplated how I would plan out a sketch for a classroom I came across an old copy of BluePrint Magazine (Philippine Edition) — 35 Unbuilt Designs. It reminded me of the popular one liner in business blogs of ‘ideas are nothing without execution,’ how remarkable then it is to see an entire architecture publication dedicated to concepts that were visualised and are technically feasible but yet were never made. I began to reflect on what things we don’t make because we might be afraid that they will be turned down, maybe because they are not ‘allowed’, there is no funding for it or people simply are not ready yet for what one wants to make or that it might be too ‘pie in the sky’ (a term often used critically).
I have had a few conversations with architects in recent years that explain to me that ‘you can only ever be as creative as your client will allow.’ I have also spoken with a veteran architect that walked a way from a project at a University because they wanted to restrict his way of thinking so much, it compromised the creative values he holds at heart. I have also worked with a graphic designer that explained to me that ‘although doing visual identities pays very well, everyone wants to look like Starbucks.’ What then is the role of creativity in a world of plenty of objection? Where do we place the ideas and concepts that never got financial buy in, especially if those ideas are culturally significant in that they bring a fresh lease of life to what is old and stagnant and even more importantly could break new ground in a discipline or improve lives.
Part of me feels that if one restricts oneself to what one thinks is most acceptable, we will always get more of the same, we will do more of the same. This sounds safe to me. And rather appealing in some aspects! Creativity by its nature is already risky, why take even more risk? And yet, I also get a strange discomfort from it. Discomfort in that it is easier to think about ‘ease’ of execution before we think about impact and meaning.
BluePrint Philippines, Editor- in- Chief, Janine Torres, says in her note in Unbuilt Designs “…one might view this as a collection of losers and aborted dreams. But some of the unbuilt designs on these pages are glorious losers that I’d take any day over mediocre winners that now mar out built environment.” With this in mind, it appears there is the place for things that were seen in the minds eye but never made. Firstly, to motivate us to think differently as individuals and as a society. The more we do this, perhaps we will find that what was once ‘unacceptable’ becomes more palatable. And secondly, to help inspire courage in one another to put forward concepts that might not immediately be embraced but are nonetheless important concepts. I hope that I will also find more of that courage in me and foster that courage in others.
Words by Natasha J. Hussein