Why Architecture is a 50-50 game

Architecture is not an Art. Or at least it is not like the other Arts. It is as if a painter could paint only when asked to and only what is required of him to paint. Architecture is a team game, it is a Social Art. 

My grandfather was a builder, my father and my uncles too. I grew up on construction sites and was lucky enough to have the opportunity to design buildings immediately after becoming a registered architect in 1994. Ten years later and not yet 40, I got my first important professional assignment: the design of a large office and shops complex in Italy.  

However, I was not satisfied with how things developed. My design ideas were constantly being changed, for a thousand different reasons: budgets, commercial needs, misunderstandings with a contractor or customer. It was very frustrating. Why be a good architect and have exciting ideas if you don’t get the chance to build them the way you want?  

I was watching the work of Star Architects on the internet and wondering how they managed all these things. As I was browsing, I read an interview with the great Frank Gehry who said: “I love the client interaction – I think it’s a 50-50 game. I love that we do what we do and bring it in under budget.” 

A 50-50 game? No one at University taught me this. They tell you that the History of Architecture is a succession of great ideas that are realised magically, in the exact way that the architect conceived them. A 50-50 game! This would be my new challenge.

From that day I began to look differently at customers, at construction companies, at suppliers. I began to see the value they brought to the project in terms of capital, responsibility, organisation, desires and aspirations. 

I remember perfectly the day of the inauguration ceremony for the complex of offices and shops I had designed. There were hundreds of people: builders, manufacturers, suppliers, customers who had all participated and made their own contribution so that my vision as an architect could be realised. 

 Actually, the building was a bit different from my initial sketches. My ideas had developed. As the yeast, they had fermented the mass of requests brought by all the stakeholders and created something better, something that I could not have created by myself. 

It is for these reasons that I have energy to continue, day by day, creating new things. Each time together with a new team.

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