Following architects at work from within the architecture firm allows to describe architecture in the making, instead of studying their production once built and/or published and rather than relying on their established discourses. Such a pragmatist approach tends to provisionally eclipse what architects have to say about their work to emphasize material design operations. In order to question this tendency, this paper focuses on a process I observed during one of my fieldworks where words played a central role: the process that led the four founding partners of the firm to establish and communicate what they called their “values”, under the form of a short text which was to replace the “about” section of their website. Following this process within the firm, allows me to show how material it actually is. Focusing on the making of the architects’ “values” allows to address the fact that architects’ engagements are not prior nor external to their practice and production. In a pragmatist perspective, values manifest themselves in what we care for, what we attempt to sustain; they are thus not abstract but observable. Values are not what explains architects’ work but what needs to be explained thanks to the meticulous depiction of what architects do and how they are made to do.
in The Hybrid Practitioner: Building, Teaching, Researching Architecture, ed. by Caroline Voet, Eireen Schreurs and Helen Thomas (Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2022), pp. 51–65