The Architects’ Journal once published a survey showing that a majority of people in the UK have little idea of what architects do: 15 per cent of the 2,031 people polled were unaware that they even designed buildings (exactly what else they think architects are up to, I’m unsure). But it points to a wider issue – one experienced by the profession globally – that discourse around architecture tends to belong only to those who practise or commission it.
Perhaps part of the problem is that most people don’t realise that they’re directly affected by the design of buildings – that everyone can be an expert on how it makes them feel; we might, for instance, choose to walk down one street and not another based on the look of its homes. And so they don’t see the need to involve themselves in planning decisions or discussions about new public buildings.
This is something that Prague’s Centre for Architecture and Metropolitan Planning is trying to challenge through its newly launched lecture and film series, City to City. For the next two months it will hold weekly talks by designers from the likes of Tokyo, Copenhagen and Paris. These will then be followed by a film, set in the corresponding city: Godzilla, The Danish Girl and Midnight in Paris (pictured) will all be screened in the coming weeks.
By using pop culture and the silver screen as a way to frame a discussion about architecture, more people beyond the professional world are likely to join in. It’s a clever move by the centre and one that similar design organisations would be wise to copy. Here’s hoping that it will inspire residents to become advocates for good architecture and good design too.