Domus India|March 2020
The studio of Farshid Moussavi sits in the heart of the City of London’s business district among the towers of power and money, where the streets are busy with bankers and other financial sector workers. Within this world of investment and speculation, Moussavi’s office is a strange interloper, an elevated salon, a room of apparent subterfuge of intellectual speculation a laboratory of geometry and form oblivious to the activities of the workers on the other floors. It is clear that Moussavi revels in this paradox of her location, “I like to be in the City because it’s not where architects are. It makes us a little bit of an island, and we see people other than ourselves.”
The theme of outsider is one common to our profession and it runs through our conversation. While Moussavi is clearly interested in our relationship to power and patronage she is not dogmatic nor even resentful about our professional status. Moussavi seems to accept that the architect’s role is invariably misunderstood and that our role is inevitably subversive. For Moussavi this struggle is central to practice, making architecture is a practical and intellectual challenge and these two aspects can find a relationship within the architectural project. For Moussavi “the misalignment between the client and architect can be productive”, particularly when working in the private sector. This friction fuels new thinking; “it cannot be creative if it doesn’t involve struggle because otherwise it is already something established.”
Moussavi is highly conscious of the need to be nimble and embrace change in order to practise meaningfully in the current environment. Although founded in 2011, and despite her own extensive experience, Moussavi describes her 20-strong office as a “start-up” and began to like the idea that each office move brought with it “a moment of reflection”. Over the years she has become aware that this is not the typical trajectory but she is “increasingly comfortable with what we do rather than emulating other forms of practice” as it involves keeping “open to any scale of project, any kind of budget”.
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