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Speak Up: Ingo Kumic

Speak Up invites members of the A+D community to comment on issues facing the industry

Speak Up: Ingo Kumic


April 16th, 2009

“The generational tension that exists today has seen design employed as a tool to project images of change rather than projecting actual change itself” – Ingo Kumic

We asked Ingo Kumic to respond to the the following question: Does Australia adequately foster emerging design and architectural practices?

The simple answer to this is ‘no’.

The nub of the problem, as I see it, rests with the level of perceived political and financial risk associated with investing in something as complex as architecture or more generally, spatial political economy.

This is further complicated by the continuing aestheticisation of politics and the increasingly important part that the ‘image of the city’ plays in the building of political capital and therefore to securing political tenure.

In this game, architecture has been subordinated to design by a clientele which has a very conservative disposition towards inducing its own political aesthetic.

What’s perhaps more worrying to the profession of architecture is that it has allowed this to occur and in so doing has allowed conservative design responses (or images) to retard architectural (or spatial) innovation.

That said, the powerful inquiring minds that usually define young architectural and design practices are increasingly seen as too inexperienced or naïve to adequately induce the sophisticated political aesthetic of a globalizing city and as such are passed over in favour of more experienced practitioners.

These older practitioners are well versed in the generation of conservative design, to say nothing of architectural responses.

The irony however is that as history reveals, the most radical innovations to political agenda and therefore the production of space were almost always by those who saw the weaknesses in the systems of previous generations and who were therefore determined to induce a more relevant contemporary aesthetic. One that always seemed to have far more political capital associated with it than the status quo.

The generational tension that exists today has seen design employed as a tool to project images of change rather than projecting actual change itself.

As with all significant chapters in history, it appears we must create our own moments if we are ever going to create the evidence that we were here.

Dr Ingo Kumic is the Director of USG Urban Strategy Consultants in Sydney.



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