The figure of the architect is a very complex one. As a “generalist”, a word that is often used to describe this profession, an architect has to incorporate a great number of skills ranging from the mere knowledge of different subjects to soft skills such as talking, explaining and listening.
I´ve been quite impressed by how in such a short period of only some months I came in contact with so many subjects covering different aspects of architecture from the very practical, to the more humanistic and finally the scientific ones.
Coming to the friendship with my book, I believe during the various steps I got to reflect on some aspects I would probably not have reflected on at this point of my life/education.
As already the title makes clear my book, “L´architecture moderne ou l´art de bien batir”, is an example of a manual for the architect of the 18th century. It therefore gives an insight into how the very practical aspects of architecture were seen in that period of time and what the ideals for a house were. Something I was very interested in, was the section of the book where the author goes into detail on the “do´s and dont´s” of architecture. This idea of the manual, i. e. something that tells you what you should to, what is correct/incorrect, made me reflect a lot on the role of the architect, especially today and in the future. In what degree is there the freedom to follow your personal creativity? Or better, how much importance do society, its expectations and the given “rules”, as it is the case in my book, have in a design process? How much should an architect stick to the “rules” and expectations and in what extent is there freedom to act? Even if I still didn´t get to my personal answer to all of the mentioned points, I´m glad I got to reflect on those at the very beginning of my education, considering they are a constituting aspect of this profession.
All of these questions were raised by the interaction I had with my book even if it was not in my language, which brings me to the next point I want to make. Especially when I got into “contact” with my book and had the possibility to have a more detailed look inside, the many plans and figures which occupy more than half the number of the pages, made me realize how much we today, after almost three centuries, can still concretely learn from these books. The time between me and the author and the language do not manage to make this book unuseful/old. Given that the primary aim of the architect, namely to design places that somehow help people, has and will always be the same, this profession is timeless. And with it also a book like this one can tell us a lot about how architecture was and is now, what were the problems one could have and how designing was seen.
A last aspect I want to reflect on is the impact the technologies have had on the relation we can have with these books. I am sure that free accessibility of most of these books for everyone can be a great advantage for obvious reasons especially when it comes to the content. On the other hand, my experience with the “real” book was a completely different one. Only when touching it you realize the unique value these works have.
Coming back to the point I made at the very beginning, I can say that designing is for sure not only the mere practice but (along with the many other fields of knowledge it is connected with) also implies to reflect, study and critically look at what has already been done. That can really help us to design well and mindfully in order make our spaces and people´s lives better. The friendship with my book helped me to get to these conclusions.