What the Manifesto Questions ARE NOT & ARE

by Annie Pedret

What the manifesto questions ARE NOT

NOT      critical

NOT      political

NOT      a pronouncement

NOT      revolutionary

NOT     a proclamation

NOT      a list of declarations

NOT      a radical idea

NOT      a proposition

NOT      a list of tenets

NOT      a movement

NOT      a coherently stated opinion

NOT      principle that motivate work

NOT      a polemic/polemical notion

NOT      against an enemy

NOT      a list of demands & declarations in response to wrong doings

NOT     intended to resuscitate manifestos1

NOT      antagonizing a group that pits us against them

NOT      a prelude of problems

NOT     a REJECTION of anything

NOT      a DEMAND for architecture

NOT      a meaningful concept

NOT      a vehicle for criticism

NOT      an assertive concept

NOT      an idea

NOT      a vehicle of reception control

NOT     a declaration of intention

NOT     a text that calls for a response2

NOT      a vehicle for making absolute claims3

NOT      a key rhetorical weapon deployed by the historical avant-gardes4

NOT      language of rupture and revolution5

NOT      vehicle for setting transformative architectural project in motion6

NOT     vanguard positioning7

NOT      hyperbole, exhortation, and naïveté, misogyny, racism, sympathies for fascism8

NOT     following rhetorical conventions9

NOT      pointing to a direction

NOT      a text that is defined by conviction, urgency, immediacy, seeking10  

NOT      a text that seeks to push the domain of words as close as possible to the domain of deeds11

NOT      force and persuasion12 

NOT      a proliferation of injunctions that range from the imperative to the subjunctive13

NOT      formulated with model verbs – must, can, shall, will14 

NOT      an injunction between command and demand15 

NOT      an injunction of nuanced play between desired and hypothetical stats of affairs16 

NOT      an injunction between possibility and doubt17

NOT     an injunction in the guise of a theses or numbered points18

NOT      condensing thought with emphatic precision19

NOT      concentrating the effort of the text20

NOT      full of pointers with pronouns indicating the place and time of utterance, and the objects of concern: here, now, today, this21

NOT      operating as a special kind of text that draws the reader’s attention to the page in order to direct it back to something outside the text back out toward the world22

NOT      full of pronouns like I, you, we23

NOT     referring to a defined group, but also to a larger unspecified collectivity the reader is invited to join24

NOT      mobilizing a powerful provisional constituency, proposing forms of solidarity that can allow an individual to appear as being many25

NOT     using the pronoun “we” as a way to run roughshod over differences26 

NOT      closely allied to power (16C kings and princes) 27 

NOT      a new type of militant document that recodifies elements from traditions of scholarly debate and religious revelation (Martin Luther’s 151728

NOT      a tool of political struggle (Marx & Engels Communist Manifesto, 1848) 29  

NOT      a particular rupture in authority associate with the breakdown of royal control30

NOT      political and revolutionary31

NOT      challenging rather than confirming the legitimacy of a particular authority32

NOT      a projection that calls forth a subject, party, group, or class which would emerge to realize the authority of the manifesto

NOT     performative33  

NOT     projects cast towards the future34

NOT      figures of architectural imagination that will be chased for years before being realized in built form35 

NOT      declarations of polemical confidence and law-like clarity36

NOT      seize the authority that he or she does not yet possess without a type of theatrical confidence37

NOT      associated with the future38 

NOT     grounding claims in attacks on prevailing ideas about history39 

NOT      provoking by means of condensed, biased, and often extreme forms of historical revision40

NOT      remaining true to a revolutionary history41

NOT      turning against its contemporary legacy42  

NOT      invoking historical rupture related to the legacy of the avant-garde or technological change43

NOT      advancing more conservative agendas44

NOT      radically reversing history45 

NOT     retroactive (Koolhaas’ “retroactive manifesto”)46

NOT     announcing an agenda in advance of evidence that might sustain claims47

NOT      a pact of complicity the author is seeking with the reader48 

NOT      challenging the breakup of official bodies49

NOT      creating the identities of architects and avant-garde groups50

NOT      about a new society51

NOT      a manifesto

NOT     a unifying theory52

NOT      a contract that the authors make with society53

NOT      ideological54

NOT      to make trouble55

NOT      a contentious statement56

NOT      statements of principle57

NOT      asserting the backing of history58

NOT      asserting the entire revision of history59

NOT     asserting a revolution60

NOT      a manifesto following the political and cultural manifestos conceived to destroy the authority of the disciplinary treatise [Marx and Marinetti]61

NOT      part of the decline of manifestos62

NOT      against architecture, like theory of the 1970s and ‘80s63

NOT      necessarily inextricably linked to new spaces of operation within emerging forms of media64

NOT      the certainty of contemporary treatises dedicated to absorbing architecture seamlessly into the technological world of global development65

NOT      a dictate — the declaration of the will of a sovereign, a state, or its military66

NOT     an answer

NOT      a complaint

NOT      an uncompromising call for change67

What the manifesto questions ARE

ARE     intimately connected to uncertainty68

ARE     a form colored and remade according to its time69

ARE     pointing to sources of doubt and objects of concern70

ARE     a way to address times of trouble71

ARE     a more ambivalent genre than one might expect of a manifesto72

ARE     asking what types of authority are being appealed to73

ARE     recognizing the important role of making claims upon the discipline74

ARE     making recurring claims on history, hierarchies within the field, forms of collective identity75

ARE     true to the original task of advancing arguments within the discipline76

ARE     taking aim at reigning hierarchies such as environmental, racial and gender norms77

ARE    provoking doubt about the ways the field separates the central from the marginal, the consequential from the trivial78

ARE     challenging the limits of the discipline, as was the case of the manifestos of the 1960s79

ARE     forms of discourse more closely associated with the tradition of a treatise80

ARE     , like manifestos, challenging hierarchies of knowledge81

ARE     , like manifestos, supporting the formation of new identities82

ARE     open to questioning the ever-shifting dynamics of the definition of architecture83

ARE     open to questioning the moral economies underlying definitions of architecture84

ARE     attempting to identify new form of identification attuned to the fascinations of the period85

ARE     in favor of a more flexible type of group identity86

ARE     a changed attitude to manifestos87

ARE     shifting from charters and collective declarations to groups linked by more informal exchange of individual statements (such as Jacob Bakema’s B.P.H.)88

ARE     inhabiting new forms of media that change the form they may inhabit89

ARE     claiming new experiences for architectural thinking90

ARE     finding forms of media to inhabit at a time when the gap between writing and public has been compressed radically91

ARE     about architectural thinking

ARE     about thinking long and harder rather than faster in a context when time is in shorter supply92

ARE     about culture93

ARE     both the product of a group and created by individuals

ARE     subjective

ARE     manifestos94

ARE     architecture

ARE     about expanding the discipline of what we consider to be architecture

ARE     about redefining architecture

ARE     a particular form of knowledge of this time95

ARE     able to be both text and a building when they represent an idea, a concept that has a fresh, provocative, and clear content96

ARE     an invention and materialization of a concept97

ARE     what architects tended historically to prefer:  theses, principles, tenets, definitions, or projects, rather than outright manifestos

ARE     an attempt to preserve the essence of what architects are purporting to destroy98

ARE     replacing the short and sharp manifesto with discursive, interpretive, analytical, quasi-philosophical explorations99

ARE     searching for guiding principles that could authorize architecture’s role in a newly heterogeneous world100

ARE     in search of words that have social and architectural resonance101

ARE     looking for a form that might have new life as a conversation or discussion102

ARE     a work of theory

ARE     about ambition, dreams, and aspirations103

ARE     about omissions, oppositions and eradications104

What some architecture Manifestos today are AGAINST and FOR  

AGAINST    critical reasoning and theories of a failed practice105           

                  a discipline that makes absurd claims106

                  architecture remaining in its ideological impasse107

                  Modernism’s attempt to plan and control reality allied to capitalist systems & totalitarian impulses108

                  architecture that serves as propaganda and marketing for political and economic systems109

                  the dystopic modern city110

                  offering concrete or real alternatives111  


                  ideological impasse in architecture i.e. Le Corbusier, Mies113

                  the misfires of architecture in theory and practice114

FOR           social responsibility115

                  honest architecture116

                  narrative architecture117

                  telling stories and narratives118

                evoking imaginative responses119

                  subversive stories about architecture and the city120

                  telling stories121

                  a narrative for architecture122

                  a philosophy of jokes123

                  what architecture could or should be124

                  subverting foam models with foam ideas125 

                  substance behind and with images126

                  daring to think127 

                  collective intelligence of architecture128

                  What About It? 129 

AGAINST    dropping the archispeak, stopping the silos130 

FOR           opening up art for all131

                  more equitable architecture132

FOR           inclusivity through the lens of identity & race133

FOR           a transdisciplinary future134

FOR           practicing solidarity across differences135

FOR           prioritize redressing inequalities through architecture, built environment, planning, policy and research136

FOR           decarbonize & ecological regeneration137

FOR           cultural transformation138

FOR           systemic change139

FOR           radically transform the profession140

FOR           expression for hybrid identity and contested territory141

FOR           speculative histories, futures and design languages142

FOR           future of public space143

FOR           enthusiasm for small sites144

FOR           breathing145

FOR           intersection of architecture, urban strategy, art & performance146

FOR           playfulness & precision147

FOR           social & performative alongside physical built component148

FOR           multi-faceted149

FOR           cross-collaborative150

FOR           caring151

FOR           political152

FOR           inclusive153

FOR           imaginative future scenarios154

FOR           questioning our understanding of the built environment155

1 Anthony Vidler, “From Manifesto to Discourse,” in After the Manifesto: Writing, Architecture and Media in a New Century, (New York:  GSAPP/T6 Ediciones, 2014), 34.

2 Craig Buckley, “After the Manifesto,” in After the Manifesto: Writing, Architecture, and Media in a New Century (New York: GSAPP Books/T6 Ediciones, 2014), 4.

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid. 

5 Ibid. 

6 Ibid.

7 Ibid. 

8 Ibid. 

9 Ibid. 

10 Ibid., 7.

11 Ibid.

12 Ibid.

13 Ibid.

14 Ibid. 

15 Ibid. 

16 Ibid.

17 Ibid.

18 Ibid.

19 Ibid.

20 Ibid.

21 Ibid.

22 Ibid.

23 Ibid.

24 Ibid.

25 Ibid.

26 Ibid.

27 Ibid. 

28 Ibid.

29 Ibid.

30 Ibid.

31 Ibid.

32 Ibid.

33 Ibid., 8.

34 Ibid.

35 Ibid.

36 Ibid. 

37 Ibid.

38 Ibid.

39 Ibid.

40 Ibid.

41 Ibid., 11

42 Ibid.

43 Ibid.

44 Ibid., 12.

45 Ibid.

46 Ibid.

47 Ibid.

48 Ibid., 15.

49 Ibid., 19.

50 Ibid., 20.

51 Tschumi, “Architectural Manifestos,” in After the Manifesto: Writing, Architecture, and Media in a New Century (New York: GSAPP Books/T6 Ediciones, 2014), 42.

52 Ibid., 43.

53 Ibid., 46.

54 Ibid.

55 Anthony Vidler, “From Manifesto to Discourse, 23.

56 Ibid., 24.

57 Ibid.

58 Ibid., 28.

59 Ibid.

60 Ibid.

61 Ibid., 29.

62 Ibid., 34.

63 Ibid., 36.

64 Buckley, “After the Manifesto,” 19.

65 Vidler, “From Manifesto to Discourse,” 39.

66 Ibid., 24.

67 CJ Lim and Simon Dickens, “In Search of Architectural Narratives and Manifestos,” The Architecture Schools Database, The Bartlett, 2017-2018, http://schools.benchernett.com/design/in-search-of-architectural-narratives-and-manifestos/

68 Buckley, “After the Manifesto,” 8.

69 Ibid. 4, 8.

70 Ibid., 8.

71 Ibid. 

72 Ibid., 8.  

73 Ibid. 

74 Ibid.

75 Ibid.  13.

76 Ibid.  12.

77 Ibid., 13.   

78 Ibid., 13.   

79 Ibid., 14. 

80 Ibid. 

81 Ibid., 15.

82 Ibid., 16.  

83 Ibid. 

84 Ibid. 

85 Ibid., 17.  

86 Ibid., 18.

87 Ibid., 19. 

88 Ibid. 

89 Ibid., 20. 

90 Ibid. 

91 Ibid., 19.  

92 Ibid., 21. 

93 Tschumi, “Architectural Manifestos,” 42.

94 Ibid.  

95 Ibid.  

96 Ibid., 51-2.

97 Ibid., 52, 53.

98 Vidler, “From Manifesto to Discourse,” 31.

99 Ibid. 35.

100 Ibid., 31.

101 Ibid., 39.

102 Ibid.

103 Cruz Garcia and Nathalie Frankowski, Narrative Architecture: A Kynical Manifesto (Rotterdam: Nai101, 2019), 16.  https://issuu.com/nai010publishers/docs/na_binnenwerk_losse_pag___cover-_issuu.

104 Ibid.

105 Nadir Lahiji, An Architecture Manifesto: Critical Reason and Theory of a Failed Practice (London: Routledge, 2019)

106 Aaron Betsky, “In Pursuit of an Honest Architecture: A Manifesto,” review of Narrative Architecture: A Kynical Manifesto, by Cruz Garcia & Nathalie Frankowski, Architect Magazine (April 6, 2020), https://www.architectmagazine.com/design/in-pursuit-of-an-honest-architecture-a-manifesto_o.

107 Garcia and Frankowski, quoted in Aaron Betsky, “In Pursuit of an Honest Architecture.”

108 Betsky, “In Pursuit of an Honest Architecture.”

109 Ibid.

110 Ibid.

111 Ibid.

112 Garcia and Frankowski, “Un-Making Architecture: An Anti-Racist Architecture Manifesto,” WAI Architecture Think Tank, https://waithinktank.com/Anti-Racist-Manifesto

113 Ibid.

114 Garcia and Frankowski, “Narrative Architecture:  Manifesto,” WAI Think Tank, https://waithinktank.com/Narrative-Architecture-Manifesto

115 Garcia and Frankowski, quoted in Aaron Betsky, “In Pursuit of an Honest Architecture.”

116 Ibid.

117 Ibid.

118 Aaron Betsky, “In Pursuit of an Honest Architecture”

119 Ibid.

120 Ibid.

121 Ibid.

122 Ibid.

123 Ibid.

124 Ibid.

125 Cruz and Frankowski, “WAI Manifesto 2008,” WAI Think Tank, https://waithinktank.com/WAI-Manifesto-2008.

126 Ibid.

127 Ibid.

128 Ibid.

129 Ibid.

130 Laura Mark, “Manifestos: Architecture for a New Generation.” London Festival of Architecture, June 13-30, https://www.londonfestivalofarchitecture.org/digital-festival/event/manifestos-architecture-for-a-new-generation-laura-mark/

131 Ibid.

132 Ibid.

133 Afterparti, “Manifestos – Architecture for a New Generation,” London Festival of Architecture, June 13-30, 2020, https://www.londonfestivalofarchitecture.org/digital-festival/event/manifestos-architecture-for-a-new-generation-afterparti/

134 Ibid.

135 Lo Marshall, “Manifestos: Architecture for a New Generation,” London Festival of Architecture, June 13-30, 2020, https://www.londonfestivalofarchitecture.org/digital-festival/event/manifestos-architecture-for-a-new-generation-lo-marshall/

136 Ibid.

137 Architects Climate Action Network (ACAN), “Manifestos: Architecture for a New Generation,” London Festival of Architecture, June 13-30, 2020, https://www.londonfestivalofarchitecture.org/digital-festival/event/manifestos-architecture-for-a-new-generation-acan/

138 Ibid.

139 Ibid.

140 Ibid.

141 Sumayya Vally, Counterspace, “Manifestos: Architecture for a New Generation,” London Festival of Architecture, June 13-30, 2020, https://www.londonfestivalofarchitecture.org/digital-festival/event/manifestos-architecture-for-a-new-generation-sumayya-vally-counterspace/

142 Ibid.

143 Ibiye Camp, “Manifestos:  Architecture for a New Generation,” London Festival of Architecture, June 13-30, 2020, https://www.londonfestivalofarchitecture.org/digital-festival/event/manifestos-architecture-for-a-new-generation-ibiye-camp/

144 Tom Atkinson, “Manifestos: Architecture for a New Generation,” London Festival of Architecture, June 13-30, 2020, https://www.londonfestivalofarchitecture.org/digital-festival/event/manifestos-architecture-for-a-new-generation-tom-atkinson/

145 Jayden Ali, “Manifestos: Architecture for a New Generation,” London Festival of Architecture, June 13-30, 2020, https://www.londonfestivalofarchitecture.org/digital-festival/event/manifestos-architecture-for-a-new-generation-jayden-ali/

146 Ibid.

147 Ibid.

148 Ibid.

149 Migrants Bureau, “Manifestos: Architecture for a New Generation,” London Festival of Architecture, June 13-30, 2020, https://www.londonfestivalofarchitecture.org/digital-festival/event/manifestos-architecture-for-a-new-generation-migrants-bureau/

150 Ibid.

151 Ibid.

152 Ibid.

153 Ibid.

154 Ibiye Camp, “Manifestos – Architecture for a New Generation.”

155 Ibid.

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