a. To collaborate.
Architecture has always been and is a collaborative effort. What is collaboration? It is TRULY working together for the common good, listening, sharing, respecting each other, and a collective process of building ideas that substitutes individual authorship, pyramidal hierarchies and power relations. The studio was an explicit test ground on diverse modes of learning from each other and working together. Architecture schools, as our entire profession, need to shift from competition to collaboration.
b. To survive.
In the Sonoran desert, making architecture is not about comfort, or belonging. Not even about our needs. It is about survival. Everything here is a menace to human life -and unfortunately when driving around Scottsdale it seems that human presence is a menace to life here. Making a living environment is not a trendy game, a cool divertimento or an egotistic statement. In such a resource scarcity, a construction is more obviously a device that gives a fragile environment to stay alive. What links Taliesin West shelters with the brightest examples of architecture -a family to which Taliesin West belongs to- is that by living there, going back and forth into and out of the desert everyday, among critters noises, stars and sunsets, the young architects’ experience is becoming tools not for comfort or dreaming, but for making places that arise full consciousness, allowing us to be ourselves.
c. Anticipation awareness and acute observation.
Architecture’s materialisation process is an open book. Design decisions are transparent. A trained designer can read all the doubts, conflicts, accidents, mistakes, steps, search, priorities and confusions that shaped a construction. However, there is always some missing steps you have to research and study. Taliesin West and even Ocatillo -only present through some pictures and drawings- are a constant spring of these magician’s tricks. The knowledge implied in every design decision is not obvious, not shown. But we can grasp it and keep it in our own top hat.
d. The little joys of building.
Constructing can be very tiring, sometimes very frustrating. Under the Sonoran sun, it can be nerve breaking. Experiencing this in our own bones can help us foresee easier, more efficient and relaxed ways for others to construct our future projects.
When you glimpse a colleague’s happy face of discovery, the joy of seeing things that you thought of actually work out, the most daring, intriguing, wild ideas running smoothly, the light coming out of these faces gives you the greatest feeling possible. Don’t expect architects who haven’t experienced that to understand it.