Michael Rabe, Bronze Medal Nominee (2013)

ESSAY

Technitai sophoikai dexioti / Craftsmen, skilled and trained        

tsd MichaelTechnitai sophoikai dexioti, (craftsmen, skilled and trained), is a particularly relevant aspiration for architects today. In an age when computers, information technology, and huge advances in manufacturing and industry have changed the architectural profession forever, the qualities of a skilled craftsman must not be mistaken to be old fashioned or out of date. Craftsmen have a wealth of experience for the performance of their tasks and the instruction of others, take delight in their work, and work with a sense of pride and accomplishment.

For thousands of years, those persons standing in the position of architect have been master builders and craftsmen. Though today’s world is much different than that of a few centuries ago and architects no longer need to have personal mastery of construction in order to design, any architect who does possess such skills has a significant advantage. Medieval master builders could design the lofty Gothic churches that still stand today only because they had personal experience as stone masons and knew the material. Today, consulting firms are a large part of modern architectural practice, but any knowledge and experience that an architect can build into the design will expedite the process and yield a better product. By understanding materials and designing for actual construction methods, an architect can help educate others as well as create an elegant design.

Craftsmen are known for their special knowledge and skill, but they also take delight in their work. Architects have a lot more responsibility than a craftsman, but no more excuse than for not taking joy in their work. The greater responsibility that architects have is an opportunity to reach and inspire more people than perhaps a single craftsman could. Any architect thoroughly enjoying his or her work will inevitably convey this sense of purpose and delight through their work, as is the case with other skilled craftsmen. Any crafted object reflects the hand that made it.

An architect as a craftsman should put all their care, skill, and experience into each project they design. Just as every craftsman values each of their own works for its beauty, workmanship, deft handling of materials, and even its daring execution, it is essential for a good architect to be able to integrate these qualities in every work of architecture they design. Every major historical architect has shown the ability to devise innovative solutions to vexing problems of structure, materials, form, and program. These innovative solutions often prove to be the most rewarding and beautiful, because the architect had enough pride and duty to work through and find the best solution. Again, the work of an architect reflects the dedication and commitment that the architect has to serving the client, as well as to the profession and themselves.

Just because the world has changed from being more craftsman centered, the architectural profession has not changed so as to not need the principles of craft anymore. An architect trained with the principles of a craftsman is better prepared to interact with others intelligently and perform his or her duties more competently. A well rounded architect is a better architect, and the world needs more technitai sophoikai dexioti architects.

EXHIBITS

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Analytique

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Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Church

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Climate-Responsive Shelters

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