Is architecture criticism dead?

The Arch Daily website has a long piece about architectural criticism today. Titled ‘The Architecture Critic is Dead (just not for the reason you think)’  , it looks at changes on the scene in New York, where traditional critics have gone from the main titles. The piece concludes that there is still a role for the critic but they need to be much more of a social activist, rather than just analysing buildings as objects or works of art.

This is an interesting contrast to the scene in the UK, where architectural critics certainly have engaged with social issues. Of course, their lives have not been easy either, as newspapers are increasingly cash-strapped with the rise of the internet which may increase audiences but is not good for cashflow. Tom Dyckhoff has gone from the Times, and Jonathan Glancey from the Guardian.

Traditionally American papers have written very long pieces and there is a school of thought which argues that, with the prevalence of bite-sized easy to digest dollops online, print media should distinguish itself by longer, more closely written pieces. The London Review of Books takes this approach, and the latest redesign and rethink of The Architectural Review follows a similar path, with some heavyweight theorising. Good luck, and let’s hope it works.

But just when you think everything is changing, and must change, along comes a piece like Rowan Moore’s review of the restored Villa Tugenhadt in Brno. This is an old-fashioned piece of writing, looking at the history of this magnificent building, its social significance and the work that has been done to bring it back. Old fashioned, but so good. Architectural criticism is not dead yet.






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