With the rise of Gen-AI, numerous questions have arisen about the future careers of architects. Yet, perhaps Gen-AI prompts an even more critical question: what is the current role of the architect?
Architecture often brands itself as a fine and complex discipline—and indeed it is—making it difficult to critique on a philosophical basis. In a world driven by modernism and capitalism, one could argue that, with few exceptions outside of non-mainstream trends and academic research, architecture has largely served the interests of those who own the means of production: money.Architecture is far from sustainable, especially on a large scale. Even buildings branded as sustainable have yet to prove their longevity By standing the ultimate test if time.
While architects master these complex crafts, the world possesses more sustainable methods that do not require such scientific intervention. For instance, birds do not hire general contractors to build their nests, nor do they wait for a city to demolish them when they leave. Nature is replete with examples from which research architects have been trying to learn for decades. Yet, this research does not form the basis of most architects' daily practice, nor is it clear if these practices are applicable to a 21st-century global citizen fed generic ideas of development and progress. (Note to self for later: Zaha's ideas on progress and the conservation of identity).
One key lesson from the rapid advancements in Gen-AI is that technology has been—and will continue to be—an enabling tool that transforms professions into crafts by undertaking the technical work. This seems to have become the cornerstone distinguishing architects from non-architects. While this demarcation still exists, I argue that nothing will blur this line in the coming years. However, even if I were wrong, given the current state of architecture, it seems that the field could greatly benefit from a more intuitive, philosophical, and less architecturally rigid approach.