A turning point in architecture sees the end of starchitects

28 July 2016
A new Tin Sheds Gallery exhibition presents the vision of 13 architects from around the world.

Contemporary iconic architecture, which became increasingly popular in the late 1990s, has now reached saturation point as the starchitects of yesterday are replaced by a new generation of architects looking for moral purpose.

Will Alsop, Sharp Centre for Design, The Ontario College of Art and Design, Toronto, Canada, 2004. Photo © Richard Johnson.

A new Tin Sheds Gallery exhibition, City of Ideas: Architects’ Voices & Visions, at the University of Sydney examines the voices of 13 architects from around the world who discuss architecture’s place in society now and in the future.

Curator of the exhibition, New York-based Vladimir Belogolovsky, said: “Since the world economic crisis of 2008 the most distinctive architects’ voices are under attack.

"In an age when people are acutely aware of the economic slowdown, limited natural resources, income disparity and ecological imbalance, it becomes increasingly clear that highly individualistic architecture is no longer relevant. Architecture is at a turning point.

“The next generation of architects openly rejects personalised, signature-style architecture. Instead they want to make the world a better place. Solving problems is architecture’s new common ground – be it social or ecological.

"There is trend in the profession of moving away from focusing on discovering yourself in the art of architecture, turning architecture into a problem-solving discipline. The featured architects go against this global trend. Their distinctive and rare voices need to be heard. I hope they will inspire us to keep reinventing architecture,” said Vladimir Belogolovsky.

Showing first in Australia at the University of Sydney, the exhibition consists of audio recordings, interview transcripts, quotes and images, drawn from over 100 recorded conversations since 2002 between the curator and leading architects world-wide. Most of the voices are architects either mid-way through or at the conclusion of their careers.

The University of Sydney’s Professor Michael Tawa, Head of Architecture in the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning said: “The sheer diversity of perspectives offered by the City of Ideas exhibition is revealing. Alongside these established and well-known individual practitioners, what might be the potential agency of lesser-known yet original voices in architectural practice; and what unique prospects might these voices offer to the future of architecture, as a process of engaging current challenges and mobilising effective, transformational change?”

The architects featured in the exhibition include renowned Australian architect Glenn Murcutt, alongside internationals Will Alsop, Peter Eisenman, Yona Friedman, Antón García-Abril & Debora Mesa (Ensamble Studio), Zvi Hecker, Kengo Kuma, Daniel Libeskind, Jürgen Mayer H., Wolf Prix (Coop Himmelb(l)au), Thom Mayne (Morphosis), Hani Rashid & Lise Anne Couture (Asymptote Architecture) and James Wines (SITE).

City of Ideas: Architects’ Voices & Visions officially opens on 28 July at Tin Sheds Gallery in the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning at the University of Sydney and runs until 16 September 2016.