Wai Architects: Architecture as a tool for addressing social issues

According to WAI Architects, architecture might not save the world but it has the power to make people’s lives miserable.

WAI Architecture Think Tank partners Cruz Garcia and Nathalie Frankowski believe that architecture can be used as a tool to address issues, but it can also be used as a tool to identify issues first. Their installation at the Chicago Architecture Biennial called Wall Of Wai: Wall of Manifestos presents an overview of the firm’s spheres of design, which deal with the purely theoretical to narrative architecture developed for critique rather than construction.

According to Cruz, the diversity of architecture has been enhanced by advancements in mass communication. The firm’s overview presents the diversity of projects and approaches that architects are trying to address. “I think that basically captures our contemporary epoch,” adds Cruz, the Puerto Rican architect, artist, author and theorist.

With his partner Frankowski, a French architect, artist, author and poet, Cruz focuses on the understanding and execution of architecture from a “panoramic approach.” The Think Tank contributes to the collective intelligence of architecture through the pursuit of ground-breaking research, the construction of intelligent buildings, and the publication of innovative texts.

“Now, there’s more visibility to more parts of the world and also of different types of architectural production. That’s something you can see here too, with the very broad spectrum of countries, cities, and organisations that have been represented," says Cruz of the team's installation.

Cruz says that while architecture remains a very complex discipline, mass communication and the “global state of architecture” have ensured that solutions and discourse around solutions can travel around the world to be developed.

“We try to be the kind of architects that can adapt and be inclusive of different strategies of thinking, but also the kind of architect that has an agenda,” says Cruz. “We’re thinking about how can you deal with society, how to move forward, but also to rethink the role of architecture. What does it mean to be an architect?”

The firm is based in Beijing and critical texts and manifestoes by WAI have been presented in lectures in institutions in Beijing, Shanghai, Graz, Munich, Weimar, Barcelona, Madrid, Malaga, San Juan and more. 

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