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Advertisements for Architecture


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On the first of November 2008, The Age newspaper (Melbourne, Australia) described architects as the "canary in the coalmine" of the economy. In light of the unstable global economic condition at the time, OpenHAUS Exhibitions invited design professionals and design students to create an 'Advertisement for Architecture'. The most outstanding of these entries were exhibited at Federation Square, Melbourne, Australia from September 28th until October 2nd 2009 and published in an accompanying catalogue.

The Advertisements for Architecture 2009 exhibition subsequently won the Bates Smart Award for Architecture in the Media: State at the Australian Institute of Architects, Victorian Chapter, Awards Presentations, 2010.

Following the success of the Melbourne exhibition OpenHAUS was approached by DARCH (the Australian Institute of Architects New South Wales chapter's emerging architects and graduates network) to reopen the exhibition for the 2010 Sydney Architecture Festival. These works were exhibited at the the award winning Surry Hills Library and Community Centre, Sydney, from October 20th to November 7th.

OpenHAUS asked the participants of these exhibitions to create an advertisement responding to the following issues:

  • Where we would be without architecture.
  • The status of architects as cultural iconographers, determinants of the built environment, image-makers and visionaries.
  • The changing role of the architectural profession over the 20th century and into the present millennium.
  • The creation of desire for architecture and a greater awareness of the role of the architectural profession culturally and socially.

Advertisements for Architecture has allowed the architectural profession to explore and communicate the potential of architecture unencumbered by the timeframe of the architectural work. Advertising, although not a medium traditionally utilised by architectural professionals, has often been engaged with by architects in creative and innovative ways - from the subliminal (1) and the celebratory (2) to the avant-garde (3), architects have been fascinated by advertising. The exhibition offered an opportunity for architects and designers to reflect on how the architectural profession is evolving, how architectural ideas are disseminated and conveyed and to generate creative and innovative ways of communicating the strengths of the architectural profession to a wider audience.

The Advertisements for Architecture exhibitions have inspired a wide range of responses from architects, architecture students and graphic designers. The advertisements engage with the concept of the architect as visionary and place maker, the passion required to study and practice architecture and the promotion of the use of a trained professional to coordinate the complicated design, documentation and construction process. The ads promote the creative and playful side of architecture - not only the enjoyment architects get from the creative process but also the joy and fun that architecture can bring to the urban environment. They poke fun at the seriousness of architecture (and architects), call for a renewed attention to the craft of architecture and prove that sex can even "sell" architectural ideas. Some of the ads are aimed at the architectural profession itself, asking it to question where its values lie and how it conceptualises built form. Other ads promote a political agenda and one of the ads likens the passion for architecture to the passion for chocolate. All in all the ads show that architecture expands horizons and creates a rich inspirational global tapestry.

Architects do not just create buildings - they are iconographers and cultural interpreters. Architecture itself is a means of communication beyond the built form. It is the product of converging and diverging desires and architects are the interpreters of those desires. In turn, these interpretations give shape to our cities. Advertisements for Architecture attempts to showcase these issues and to create an awareness of the fact that just as architecture shapes our cities, cities also shape our everyday experience.

(1) Le Corbusier's use of advertising in L'Esprit Nouveau
(2) Alison and Peter Smithson "But Today We Collect Ads"
(3) Bernard Tschumi, click Theoretical Works, click Advertisements