In this new delivery of the section “buoy”, we approach the world of the “critical architecture”, and that better way of it doing that of Fredy Massad’s hand (Buenos Aires, 1966).
Atypical architect (it has that Urbano de la Universidad of Buenos Aires obtains in the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning) and who in Alicia Guerrero Yesto’s company investigates and realizes critical analyses on the contemporary architecture. It combines his educational labor (teacher of Theory and Critique of the Architecture in School of Architecture-UIC in Barcelona, invited teacher ad honorem in the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism of the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina and teacher invited of the Vilniaus Dailès Akademija in Lithuania) with his work as critic of architecture in the newspaper ABC (From 2013, author of the blog La viga en el ojo) and collaborator in different international means of Spanish America, Europe and Asia.
We leave you with Freddy’s clinical eye, hope that you like.
How would Fredy Massad be defined?
Once, with intention of offending, someone was called me a ‘pathological unconformist’. I took it as a praise, so it serves me here as auto-definition.
I am someone who believes in the need of the persistent doubt. I am pessimistic.
I think that into the life it is possible to change of everything less vest. I take always that of Mouth, which is that of Diego Armando Maradona.
In some previous interview it comments that it received an imperfect education but that, thanks to this blemish, it has not determined him as individual and it had not inculcated any type of dogmatism what does think of the programs and of the educational current system in the schools of Architecture?
When I say that my education was imperfect, I want to say that I studied in a faculty masificada and in a period in which to go to the university was a decision, but anything that one was feeling as a responsibility, an obligation. Nevertheless, the State was not assuming it as a priority. It was invested and it continues being invested very little in the public education. In spite of it, the University of Good of Airs had and it continues having magnificent teachers.
That mass-production, which a priori could be counter-productive, was forcing you to grow. It was leaving freedom you as individual. It was giving you street, as we say in Argentina. It was forcing you to outline the way that you had to cross to be formed. It was offering you the basic tools, allowing that you were you itself who was learning to use them.
I like to give value to this blemish because one is in the habit of having in general a certain complex of inferiority with regard to other universities, considered more prestigious, with more it ‘marks’, more ‘avant-gardists’… and wherefrom it leaves with a thought endogámico and closed, of certain arrogance. I believe preferably the learning that less ‘perfect’ centers contribute, where the pupil has to support the worry for his own formation, even after having gone out of the university.
With regard to the current programs and the condition of the educational system, it is a difficult question and that to the one that cannot give him a general response. Basing on my own experience as teacher, I think that the panorama is changing too rapidly and we have lost some things, and that today is becoming more difficult to inculcate the importance of thinking about complex ideas to a generation increasingly dominated by the visual thing and that tends to reduce to the minimum his ideas.
But it seems to me that the great problem does not have so much that to see with the students but with how we are getting out of a jam ourselves as teachers. I think that there are teachers increasingly blocked up by the pretense that interested for stimulating and to motivate his pupils. It is as if prefirieran to indoctrinate and fans create that to encourage to be they themselves and to do it with rigor and respect to the profession.
What aspects might they improve and complete?
I insist, according to my experience, think that it is an essential awakening in each of the pupils the critical thought. This, in the practice, becomes almost impossible due to the terrible briefness of time that is granted to the education of the subjects. I have the sensation of which just when they are starting sitting the first bases to understand the concept of the subject, the semester already has concluded.
The most desirable thing would be the solid construction of knowledge values and to promote before that the accumulation of information. I verify that, in general, the students possess a very vague knowledge of the history of the architecture. I do not believe in the history as accumulation of information but as an analytical and critical reading that must to them serve to establish his own formation, avoiding so they fall down in the spell of the last fashionable charlatan or to think that any thing is an innovation.
I think that there would be necessary to try to attack this inertia of esquematismo in the knowledge and rapidity that seems to determine the character of the universitary education nowadays. I cannot say which would be the formula to do it, but there would be necessary to try to harmonize to the maximum possibly the access to the information that today the technologies drink to us with the vocation of constructing a solid and wide knowledge, that not rehúya the complexity to face.
During his formation in Buenos Aires in the 80s also it suffered the context of a crisis since it has happened and happens in Spain in these moments, it was this the motive that led him to channelling his professional life was doing the critique?
Argentina, as other countries of Latin America, characterizes for living through cyclical crises, but that cannot be compared to the crisis in which we are immersed in Spain. The crises of this type are more rapid, almost fulminating, but also the recovery demonstrates a certain speed. What has happened is that of every crisis things have been staying in the way: the health, the public education … have been deteriorating at par that the middle class was going being destroyed and an important handful of newly rich was arising.
I did not decide to study Architecture for pragmatic questions but for this push that one has when he is a young woman, without never appearing what would happen when it was receiving me. My university years were marked by one of these so many cyclical crises, dominated by the uncertainty of which it would be the future. Possibly this has something that to see in spite of having derived towards the critique. Accidentally frivolizar, he would say that if the crises do not kill you they strengthen you. Providing that one is opened to learning of them.
It has commented and debated enough on the death of the critical architecture, but there exists really a substantial difference between the current critique and that of last epochs?
The ill-will against the critique is not only in the orbit of the architecture. The company has become increasingly passive or complaisent. The brutal crisis of the system that we are suffering propitiated the emergence of 15-M, but finally this indignation was absorbed by the system and of this form it controlled itself. Maybe because some of them were not so infuriated since it seemed with this system, but his only intention was niches to be opened in him.
Those who determine the death of the critique of the architecture are normally the same ones that seek to destroy any observation of rebellion to the system in which they are too comfortable. I think that, finally, what they have achieved is not to have to decree his death but tame her. And they have done it by means of prebends.
Always there were critics obsecuentes and that wrote to the dictation of certain prominent figures, or exclusively for loarlos. But today it becomes me difficult, but impossible, to find a real critique. Charlatans abound and boutadistas but people are absent that he speaks clearly and that it exposes ideas with solidity.
When does he think that this loss of course has taken place? (If it has taken place)
I do not think that the course has got lost but we go towards where they want that we go those who handle the ship, and the others have been convenient to obey without rechistar or overacting a supposed rebelliousness with the alone intention of catching praises in social networks, but without a genuine interest of twisting the system.
I think that we have come to a point of no return. The company walks towards a cultural, ideological, spiritual impoverishment… generalized. I suppose that it is a question of historical cycles and we are living through one of these moments of decadence and crisis, of that they emerge other structures.
Yesterday in a television program they were interviewing a ‘influencer’, an insipid and ignorant personage and that was boasting besides his own ignorance. Seeing this, it was confirming once again in that the problem does not take root in that there exists this model of stultified prominent figures but in that these should have been ended turning in admired examples. It is possible to answer that of it the television consists garbage, but if we move the same inertia to the architecture, we will see that the models ensalzados for the means in order which they are revered by the architects do not differ in excess of these zangolotinos whose profession is to be influencer.
In the same sense, I recommend to see the documentary that forms a part of the series ‘Abstracts’, issued by Netflix, dedicated to Bjarke Ingels. Personally, it has reinforced the questions that me Ingels does not stop provoking: how it can have promoted to this category of pseudo-myth a type that only repeats worthy slogans of book of self-help, without the minor intellectual grease.
This worship to all this type of figures has driven to this dead and embarrassing point.
Therefore, which must be the function of a critic? How must a critic of architecture be positioned?
Today they are in the habit of confusing the idea of theoretically and that of critic, that they are totally different. I feel more critical than theoretical.
In my opinion, the critic has to be the destabilizing one, someone who generates questions and puts in combat the collective certainties. Far, very far, of being a talent-scout or a healer, as today there pledge in promulgating those who say to be doing critique. A critic must observe and instigate questions. I think that, in view of the time in which we live, that tends to be a liabilities, to needing explanations and schematic and rapid answers, it is a necessary certain belligerent and vehement spirit, which makes overturn the certainties that have been absorbed irreflexivamente. I think that more that to generate dogmas or truths, the critic must open doubts.
Since I have said, at present one tends, in a very crafty way, to despise the figure of the critic. In a become childish company the dissents are not welcome.
There are clear reasons in order that this happens, and many of them there have been promoted by the action of a lot of autoconsidered critics, which there work more like community managers or publicists of certain architects and who never had for assignment be critics. They have annulled the idea of the reflection and have disfigured the concept of what means to do critique. Also the model of the critic has been generalized as an embittered and frustrated personage, an unfortunate poor person that canalizes his miseries and you envy rushing forth at others: the fault-finder.
With this frauds’ proliferation on the one hand and this trivialization of the function of the critic for other one, it has become very difficult to create an environment in which the critique could recover his raison d’être.
For my part, I think that the critical reflection is fundamental to develop and to make to grow the theoretical body that gives base to the construction of the own architecture. It equips also the own criteria, our responsibility on the integrity of our ideas.
It defines the critique that it realizes as pragmatics, this has transported him some that another clash, why does he think that his reflections are not received well?
I hold that the critique, and even more in these times, must point directly at the problem, without getting lost in rhetorical drifts. I try, as already he was saying, that these should not serve to pay any type of dogmatism but to generate debate.
I do not agree with that my reflections are not received well. Surely those who take them to evil are noisier, and probably as it this impression is had, but also they are received by interest and desire of dialog. I perceive that there are many people anxious about whom they speak to him with clarity, that the critic takes a free position of ambiguities.
With regard to the first case, the Bullyboy of the political correction does not accept differences and this has turned into one of the big males of our time, provoking a dangerous setback for the thought. From this political correction many people are benefiting debaucheries that use it to protect and to support afloat his business. The commanding buenismo, for paradoxical that sounds, is the most powerful weapon to stop out of I play the discrepant one. Protected in this auto-attributed moral and ethical superiority and his power as ‘group’, it tries to eliminate and to annul whom it thinks and questions from the individuality. Maybe, the problem is not to want to take part in this extra.
In the environment of the architecture, always one has seen as a perfidy the exercise of the independent critique, rarely like slightly usefully and constructivly. In a profession determined by the egos and the corporativismo one sees very badly this rebellion of speaking clearly, asking for accounts. There is rewarded the useful idiot who blasphemes and gestures but which speech is not inconvinient.
In a recent article, Molina’s Santiago was writing on “living without teachers”, might it X-ray the current panorama of the Spanish and international architecture?
I think that the architecture is plunged in a general stun. I hold, to my sorrow, that the crisis has not served to think and to generate a catharsis. That survive, though as living dead men, prominent figures of the past, who still continue unfusing fear, which he prevents one from questioning them for dread of remaining out of the system that still they govern.
It seems to me that it has been thought over little and badly on the motives that led to the collapse of the architecture. We are before a scene to which it is returning gradually everything what led to this collapse. Two examples of this déjà-vu: that Foster gains the recent contest of the Prado Museum and the inauguration of the Philharmonic one of Hamburg (another building icónico that has multiplied by ten his original budget). Both reveal that those who bet in order that this crisis was only an impasse have won. The rules of the game and his players continue being the same, and have managed to eliminate or to turn in losers to great part of a generation. Even more, generating in them a complex of fault, of shared responsibility, and doing that respect a condition of professional precariousness as punishment that they must pay.
The architecture, it has opened many fronts of battle (LSP, Bologna, unemployment, labor precariousness, Spades, ETSAs, emigration, communication, etc), will not they be too much for the existing polarization inside the same one?
Before questions like that one always traverses the risk of ending up by falling down in the palabrerío, in enunciating good almost Utopian intentions. The majority of they they would be solved by royal determination of change, by an energetically critical attitude on the moment. Without meekness, rebelliously genuine, not with slogans and noise. It is necessary to start stopping very much behind, denouncing the real reasons that led us to this point.
I think that the factor of Bologna, which to my criterion he leads to an extreme professionalization that goes to the detriment of the paper of the university as space of thought and growth, will cause irreparable hurts.
I think that it is very difficult to go cross-current of the flows that push the world today, but there would be necessary to start losing the dread and to call to the things for his name. To appear up, indicating whom and what factors they have taken to the profession and to the discipline to this so sensitive point.
How does it see the future of the architecture? And that of the profession?
As he was saying before, I am pessimistic in general. I do not like how the things are. The architecture, the intelligence of the architecture, is in bad hands. The treeless levity his broad ones and this cannot impute only to the digital environment, also this concerns many plots of the academic world. The model of market has been in front of the knowledge.
Value is in the habit of giving to architects who do bad architecture and who, simultaneously, sell fragilely hollow ideologies. The admired models Bjarke Ingels and Alejandro Araven are very poor, ideologically perverse, but I think that it is a mistake to oppose these the puritanical model, that they personify figures like Zumthor or the recent Pritzker, RCR Arquitectes. This model is elitist and slightly identical to our time. Surely they produce good architecture but it is an architecture ensimismada and that is directed minorities.
It gives the impression from which we have happened, in the space of twelve months, of admiring the concept ‘cool’ of chabolismo proposed by Aravena or Urban Think Tank to claiming now the preciosismo and the elitist sophistication.
I am not interested in doing of prophet, but he would bet that the future of the architecture has to happen for the development of the industry and the modernization. It is necessary to try to do attainable qualit architecture and to all. For it, the critique must strain in constructing an ideological solid base, which defines which are the royal needs to which architecture must give service. It would be necessary to break with the class inertia that always has finished determining the profession. To work from the public thing seriously. To leave the surface of the slogans and the straining to achieve effect and to enter a responsible debate on what it is wanted and what it is necessary to to do.
What does think of those that they have been going to work abroad?
I come from an immigrants’ family that they saw obliged to leave his country at the beginning of the 20th century. Because of it I know that emigrating is a complex situation, furthermore when it transforms in the only solution. In my case, the decision to emigrate was a personal option and my experience has been very satisfactory. To go out of the ‘home’, to leave the safety, it made me advance. Nevertheless, I do not believe that it is a condition either necessary or obligatory personnel to develop or professionally.
Inside the Spanish current context, in which your question is located, I believe that calling these speeches to the emigration or presenting it as the only alternative they are very harmful. Only they can be beneficial to leave free field a generation who already is seated and who does not want competition, nor to lose force, power and privileges. They me turn out to be insulting for the lightness with which one invites the persons to go away, doing that the persons begin his professional tour from the frustration and the victimismo.
Lamentably I see that a deceit is propitiated also on the fact of emigrating. There are many migrantes vip, which have moved queriendo to imbue from reality to this deceitful speech and exhibiting this victimismo. These migrantes vip do not have interest to do of it a vital experience, but boast in the networks of his vicissitudes in strange lands.
To emigrate for obligation is an easy question, and even less if one meets urged to do it. It can end up by being a very traumatic circumstance.
What does think of the architects who undertake in new fields?
I believe in an understood well individualism, as independence. The entrepreneur like person who was raising his own professional and vital project always has existed. The one who in these moments applies his knowledge in projects that allow him to be realized, looks like to me worthy someone of praise and respect.
Saying this, this concept in vogue of ‘entrepreneur’ and what implies me great reason mistrust. It seems to me that it is paradigmatic of this crooks’ company and stultified, that trusts as the only solution in the apparent one I progress ahead and in the individualism as spectacle.
The education of the architect is very abarcativa, though this sounds to cliche, and provides tools that qualify to be able to apply and to learn in other fields. This does not want to say that, if I am an architect, overnight I cannot dawn also qualified to be filmmaker, artist or philosopher (or quite simultaneously). Certainly that is positive opens the spectrum of the interests and of the potentials that one is capable of integrating to his knowledge and activities, but there is important a sense of rigor and humility.
With what I am totally in disagreement it is with these speeches that want to persuade the architects to leave the profession to devote itself to another thing, good they is discouraging or making conceited them and doing to them that will be brilliant in any field because, since I have said, they depart from turbid interests that want to reduce to the minimum the competition inside a system that already is very well supported.
Is it satisfied with his professional path? What projects of future do wait?
To the very pessimistic being and unconformist it is difficult to feel satisfied. I stress what he was saying to the beginning: I think that this profession, since almost quite, is a long-distance race. It makes me happy to have run to a slow pace, with better moments and worse others. But I can say that I have seen to spending many running to more speed and, later, to disappear. The learning is slow and we are saturated of bad apprentices.
Going to the concrete thing: last year I began with ‘Cruces Críticos’ a series of dialogs between architects and professionals of other areas, which they had as object investigate in the reflection on the paper of the critical thought at this moment. At this moment I am interested in going out very much of the monologue. Towards the future I am interested in continuing organizing this type of meetings that serve to break the reflection endogámica and to look for voices that are more to the margin of the media uproars.
On the other hand, I am preparing a book.
To finish, what would him advise the current students and future professionals of the architecture?
I detest that they give me advices, even more when I have not asked for them. Because of it I avoid to position myself as counselor.
Before this question, it me comes to the head the image of those students or young architects who acted as human pedestals in the Biennial show of Venice of 2012. With the masks that were concealing his faces and his white monkeys, uniformándolos. It looks like to me a terrible metaphor of the obedience, of the total annihilation of the rebelliousness.
With this image in mind, it would not advise them but yes he would say to them that they should not get frightened by the panorama, which seems to be slightly pleasing and which some of they of them pledge in polucionar furthermore. That look for his own experiences, accidentally to imitate to obey. Also that not mitifiquen to nobody, that they construct his own thought.
Fredy Massad · critical architecture
Interview realized by Ana Barreiro Blanco and Alberto Alonso Oro. To be grateful for Fredy his time and predisposition with this small space.