When I was thirteen years old, I bought my very first LP. It was Simon and Garfunkel’s  “Bridge over troubled waters”. I can still sing the refrain of one of the songs from memory. The song is called “So long, Frank Lloyd Wright”, and the refrain goes like this:

Architects may come

and architects may go

and never change your point of view.

When I run dry

I stop awhile and think of you.

To this day, it is the only pop song about architects that I can remember. Architects inspire other architects, and photographers, but not songwriters. The song gives us a reason for this: architects don’t change our point of view very much. But Frank Lloyd Wright did. In his architecture style, a roof defines the space under it, and in this space he puts one or more buildings. These buildings have clean and simple lines; they can be reduced to their essentials because their place under the roof says the rest that needs to be said. For those of us who prefer to think that buildings define space, the idea that the roof defines the space and that the buildings derive their place and purpose from the roof is definitely a new point of view.

Do we need a similar change of viewpoint in the world of IT? In my opinion, the answer is an unequivocal “Yes!”.  I think we need the very same change in point of view that Frank Lloyd Wright promoted in his architecture. We are accustomed to think that information systems are the really important entities, from which we derive the connections with other systems. This way of thinking has led to the shipwreck of many CRM, ERP, call center and web site projects, in fact any project in which information from many sources must be combined. Until we learn to think of the connections between them – the roof , if you will – as being of primary importance, we will always end up with systems integration being prohibitively expensive. Unfortunately, it is becoming increasingly essential to survive and compete as well.

Now that I think of it, I don’t know any pop songs at all about IT-ers. And I think  the chances of somebody ever writing a song about that strange combination of architect and IT which I happen to represent, the IT-architect, are somewhere very close to zero. Perhaps we should change your point of view more often.

Hans Wierenga

 

Weergaven: 220

Reactie van Jan van Til op 17 April 2012 op 17.06

Hans,

A very Inspiring blog. Thank You!

For an Architect... the Roof forms the foundation of everything it accomodates.

For a Builder... the Foundation forms the foundation of everything built on it - including the roof. The roof is only a closure-thing.

How many contemporary it-architects do you consider to be - in fact - builders?

Jan

Reactie van Louis Dietvorst op 17 April 2012 op 18.27

Hi Hans, very nice blog! Btw, I remember a song "You Can Call Me Al" from Paul Simon where he is singing "He sees angels in the architecture. Spinning in infinity.". Maybe that is what we need if we want to rethink the shipwrecks you mention.

And indeed, in the end it's all about connections. In my point of view connecting people should be the dominant design driver from which we derive our supportive architectures. And connecting people irrespective of roof or building under the roof because that in itself is already a limitation for connecting. I therefore think we must design architectures where people are able to connect without boundaries or with as little boundaries as possible. Social Architeture!

Reactie van Hans Wierenga op 19 April 2012 op 9.35

How many contemporary IT-architects are builders rather than architects? When push comes to shove, all of us, because we lack a language of space. As long as we can only talk about artefacts, because we have no words to name and qualify the myriad ways that they work together in order to create wholes that are more than the sums of the parts, our decisions will be those of builders.

 

Reactie van Hans Wierenga op 19 April 2012 op 9.57

Should we design architectures where people are able to connect without boundaries or with as few boundaries as possible?

If you would replace the word 'boundary' by 'barrier' I would agree. In my opinion spaces are necessary in order for us to meet each other. If we can meet anywhere, we will meet nowhere. And spaces exist by virtue of boundaries. An architecture of connectivity must provide rallying points - spaces - which enable connection intentions to be translated into connections. Such spaces function precisely because they limit the choices, so that if you do your thing and I do mine, the artefacts we produce will be able to work together.

Reactie van Jan van Til op 19 April 2012 op 21.16

Wow Hans, I Agree! Indeed … “all of us” are “builders rather than architects”…. So let’s stop fooling ourselves and the world… let’s stop using the title architect!

As long as our thinking, talking and acting first and foremost brings about separate artefacts – that’s our so-called object orientation … we remain builders. Whether we like/want it or not. We remain builders that wrongfully call ourselves architects.

But when we paradigm shift our thinking – i.e. shift it from separate objects to coherent context… there it is: the Roof … we consequently start talking and acting relationships (by the way: that’s Room language rather than Space language!). And then the architect starts to manifest: he/she Knows that it’s the ever evolving relationships that make artefacts happen.

The architect thinks, talks and acts relationships making up the coherent whole (the context) to the people he/she works for. The architect communicates the required artefacts – artefacts that spring forth from these relationships – to the builder.
At a floor plan the builder looks fascinated at the lines – the artefacts to build. The architect, however, has a natural fascination for the white spaces springing forth from these lines – the relationships to deliver to the people he/she works for. The architect bounds the unbounded Space into shaped living Room.

 

Reactie van Hans Wierenga op 20 April 2012 op 7.34

Amen!

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