John Habreken } participating in the built environment

John Habreken } participating in the built environment

Lovely documentary on Dutch Architect, theorist and professor John Habreken. He wrote a book The Supports and the People: The End of Mass Housing», where he questioned the role of the architect saying it should be about creating “supports” to be “infilled” by the individual occupant instead of the perceived all-knowing designer. It’s the idea of bottom up small-scale interventions made by people themselves.

It was interesting when he spoke about the first book, writing it without images “the truth can do without imagery.” He later made another version with diagrams and talked about the way people started to project their own world view into those diagrams.

He made great strides in promoting housing as an interesting typology and involving the users in the design process.

Participation is a paternalistic term because it implies that professionals make the world and they are willing to let the people in. The reality is it is the other way round. There is the built environment that has its own laws and has been around  for thousands of years… To what extent can the architect participate to make it better. It’s not participation of the people in the work of the architect.

There is a new dialogue with the reality of a building and the professional role. If we get feedback from it and can understand this we begin to ask ourselves what is the intervention the architect can make?

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