No longer does it suffice to judge a building solely by its appearance, it must be measured and certified. When architects talk about ‘Excellence’, ‘Sustainability’, ‘Well-being’, ‘Liveability’, ‘Placemaking’, ‘Creativity’, ‘Beauty’ and ‘Innovation’, what do they actually mean? In architect, verb. Reinier de Graaf dryly skewers the doublespeak and hot air of an industry in search of an identity in the 21st century. Who determines how to measure a ‘green building’? Why is Vancouver more ‘liveable’ than Vienna? How do developers get away with advertising their buildings as promoting ‘well-being’? Why did Silicon Valley become so obsessed with devising ‘creative’ spaces or developing code that replaces architects? How much revenue can be attributed to the design of public space? Who gets to decide what these measurements should be and what do they actually mean? And what does it mean for the future of our homes, cities and planet? This evening De Graaf will present his new book and we will ask some other guests to reflect on his story.

Reinier de Graaf is a Dutch architect and writer. He is a partner in the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) and the co-founder of its think-tank AMO. Reinier is the author of Four Walls and a Roof: The Complex Nature of a Simple Profession and the novel The Masterplan. He lives in Amsterdam.

Andrew Ayers studied at the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London, and City University London, and has lived in France for more than a decade. Among other books, he is the author of The Architecture of Paris, a guide to the city’s built fabric from Gallo-Roman times to the present day. He is also an architectural journalist, his writing having appeared in 032c, The Architectural Review (to which he is a regular contributor), Numéro, PIN–UP magazine (of which he is the associate editor), and others. When not writing about architecture and the history of his adopted city, you’ll find Ayers teaching on Columbia’s New York/Paris program or working as a docent at the Maison de Verre.

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