I’m loving the architecture series of TED talks – 20 minutes seems to be the perfect amount of time to get a handle on the key driving forces behind an architect’s practice. Also, the TED audience (which as far as I can tell is comprised mainly of brilliant non-architects) forces architects to talk about their work differently than is the norm. Even for someone who stays reasonably current on architectural theory through various books, journals, blogs, and school publications, high-level discussion about an architect or project can often feel like stepping into the middle of a conversation (because you are). Here, however, they don’t presume everyone in the audience is already familiar with their work and approach. Because of this, most attempt to paint in broad strokes their practice before delving into any particular instantiation. Even though we might not be surprised by what they say, listening to an architect talk for a few minutes in a very explicit way about the fundamentals of their approach to architecture is a wonderful check on the implicit understanding of ‘what they are doing’ developed piecemeal over time. Because of this, these talks are great way to look comparatively at several firms.
The following videos show wildly different approaches; particularly between the first two (REX and BIG) and the second two (Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Thom Mayne). I’ll say at the outset I’m a whole lot more convinced by the former, and thus found their talks a lot more compelling – though all four are undeniably interesting. UPDATE: I expanded on this a bit more in the comments.