Once Upon a Time
Michael William Six, an S.U. grad from a few years ago (please don’t say “back in the day”!), sent me a link to Blank Space. In its own words, Blank Space is “a new online platform for architecture founded … to uncover the true power of architecture by creating new opportunities for design to engage the public.” How could we not applaud.
There was a time in the 60s that many of us did sense that power and hoped to bring it to bear. What Michael specifically wanted me to see, however, was “Fairy Tales”, a competition announced by Blank Space, that Michael thought would interest some of us in Agincourt. My immediate enthusiasm has been only slightly tempered by a closer reading of the competition brief:
Once upon a time, Architecture was at the forefront of social innovation, addressing issues that the entire society felt were worth finding creative solutions for. A curse was then cast on Architecture: the Evil Witch of Banality tricked the architects into believing that their ideas were worthless, that society didn’t care about them, and that the only way to advance their projects was to produce vacuous glitzy renderings. Only those would lure developers into financing projects, and publications into publishing them. You are the hero that is being given the chance to battle the Evil Witch of Banality. Your magic power is Creativity. Your ace in the hole is Good Communication. Will you accept the call to this epic battle?
How can I say “no”?
Am I wrong to imagine that this applies directly to The Project? That our work during the last six years can somehow be pared and pruned and pollarded to fit five 11 by 17 sheets of graphics, two 8.5 by 11 pages of text and one page of participant bios? I registered in fewer than ninety seconds. And those few dollars are a good investment regardless of whether I/we actually enter. I wish the project success with or without my entry.
Agincourt has had many participants and gratefully holds on to a few loyal true believers. One of them is coming this weekend, so I asked him to collaborate (our potential success, I must admit, depends on his skills, not mine). Happily, he said yes.
If Agincourt has an underlying fairy tale, it’s the life of its architect-protagonist Anson Curtiss Tennant [1889-1915/1968], the man with two death dates. I’ve imagined his life in some detail and considerable context. And if pressed to give him physical appearance, I am happy to claim this pencil sketch as representing him (though it is actually an 1899 sketch of Edward Julius Detmold by his twin Charles Maurice Detmold). Would the story of a young person’s discovery of “the architect” as a life course be sufficient narrative to constitute this “fairy tale”? That discovery and that quest are the core of the Agincourt Project and have been since its beginning.
Suggestions are welcome.
Oh, by the way, the deadline for submission is January 17th—my 69th birthday. Coincidence? I think not.