How to be a good witness: The Architecture Curator - Routledge

Conversation Typology Matrix (N)


Chapter abstract:

To criticize means to call into crisis.1

Barthes’ definition of criticism describes an act of disturbance, the rupturing of a contemporary condition that might open the space up to new ways of working; or, as Roland Champagne’s translation clarifies, the performance of criticism is the inciting to crisis. This ‘call-to-arms’ comes at a time of dire need for the discipline of architecture fighting for its value in the contemporary world. The massive transformations of our built environment wrought by climate change, the social unrest of spiraling inequality, and the mass migrations of our global population (both forced and otherwise), demand a much greater engagement from our spatial practitioners to more actively engage the complex systems that influence and create the built environment. The scope of these issues is too vast to be address in the design of a building, or even of a city. A possible and active response is that of curation, which may be posited as an ideal performative mode in which to argue against the conventions of architectural practice, bringing together multiple disciplines in the critical engagement of space.


  1. Roland Barthes, ‘Writers, Intellectuals, Teachers’ [1971] in A Roland Barthes Reader, edited with an introduction by Susan Sontag (London, Vintage,1982), 379. ↩︎