Everyone claims to know what is right. Before we would make such a proclamation we are first interested in what is wrong.
We have been building for centuries and often have to look backwards as much as forward. Counterprojects is interested in the specificity of culture and place, its history and constraints. Through these we may not find the right answer, but at least an appropriate one.
Architectural practices continue to skirt the edges of the problematic, while the profession as a whole carries on with business as usual. The bulk of projects are strictly formal: material exploits on pristine sites under only the best of circumstances. Fashion and fad determine our interests—nonetheless we complain of the weak economy that spells the bankruptcy of the profession. Real quandaries persist, but the valorization of the new and novel trumps all. Everyone wants to go the party, but no one wants to clean up.
Design is a tool. It can be as subtle as the turn of a spanner or as brutal as a hammer blow. The speculative project can become the propaganda for a new world. Rather than reproducing designs, we seek to construct agendas that focus attention on the forces that necessitate their very existence, and provide an understanding of the cultural limitations that yet work against them. Only through a change in values can the built environment be reclaimed, reconceptualized and become enduring and contributory. According to Nietzsche one works against one’s time to be of one’s time, a condition and stance we refer to as Positive Iconoclasm. Counterprojects has utopian aims via subversive methods.
Counterprojects was founded in 2014 by associates of the US firm Obstructures [est. 2008] and the Germany based Studio Hansjörg Göritz [est. 1986], and is currently seeking status as 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
Counterprojects is the unison of multiple disciplines and attitudes with a critical agenda towards the built environment accepting that design is in essence a problem creating endeavor. While the firms that form Counterprojects operate within established disciplinary limits, Counterprojects is free to engage in speculative, conceptual and critical work with aims to draft new manifestos against the status quo, revisiting the project of utopia in an increasingly dystopic world.
Counterprojects considers design as total operations: architecture, visual, policy, society, culture. To operate in the world means to engage in a holistic approach recognizing the cultural barriers preventing positive change in order to dismantle them. Before design can affect positive change, it must overcome its own limitations. It must break down in order to build.
Counterprojects involve practitioners, academics, designers and craftsmen who have years of combined experience in all scales of design from graphic and industrial to the architectural and urban scale. We also teach what we practice, and we practice what we teach.