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Architecture Matters by Aaron Betsky


While doing my research for my Masters I came across the book Architecture Matters by Aaron Betsky. When I was in London, after taking a pause from the Serpentine Pavilion I went into their bookstore. And guess what book was on the shelf? I took it as a sign and bought it. It was such an easy read and while I was flipping the pages I came across a term that I really connected with. 

“Bricolage: the gathering together of disparate bits and pieces into something that is not a whole but has coherence,” (Betsky 46). This is me! This is my purpose. This is what I do so well and better than anyone else. I’m a Bricoleur!

Levi-Strauss stated that Bricoleurs “arrange, assemble, and connect objects they find all around them, allowing an order to come out of the relationships that these things have as objects you can see, feel, or taste,” (Betsky 46). Finally a term for what I do naturally.

“The magic of design is to bring out that which is there, but which we do not always see. The beauty of things shines forth through the act of the bricoleur,” (Betsky 47). It’s all about the narrative. This is what I feel I’m doing with the Architecture Biennale of the Future aka Biennale of Ideas – in the world of architecture and design culture. All the answers are out there, I just have to bring it all together into a cohesive design strategy.

“What makes bricolage important is not just that it is a way of making that breaks through hierarchies and doesn’t worry about perfection, focusing instead of how we make ourselves recognizable and at home in the world. Bricolage also matters because it is the art of poverty rather than surplus. It is what is around you…”(Betsky 48). This brings forth an idea that one of my advisors mentioned during my charrette. Architecture needs a new ideology. Long are the days of permanence. In today’s world of terrorism, disasters, and migration, architecture is turning into an era of temperance. Maybe architecture’s new purpose is to be destroyed, and rebuilt, again and again. It’s not about longevity but about temporarily.

“Bricolage, in other words, implies rethinking architecture on a fundamental level. Instead of planning buildings or cities, it works when it responds to particular situations, such as a need for space or the abundance of a particular material. It reinvents itself and its form in the making,” (Betsky 53). This is what I think the true essence of the Architecture Biennale of the future is about. It is about responding to a problem and reinventing the meaning of what it could be. By creating a new ecosystem for collaboration and discussion, there is an opportunity to create a new form of planning and creating architecture.

The real reason why I like bricolage “is [because] it relies on intuition rather than science,” (Bricolage 57). It’s about feelings and emotions that will inspire individuals to take action and create new and unprecedented possibilities. And I am the vessel that will try to make it all happen.


Richelle Sibolboro
Richelle Sibolboro

Design strategist and content creator for hire with a passion for arts and culture specifically in design, architecture, and travel. She has produced content for designboom, Azure magazine, Open City Projects, Digifest, and World Design Weeks. Follow her on Instagram and LinkedIn.

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