“Architecture Must Blaze” is the title of a 1980 manifesto by Coop Himmelb(l)au. In it, the architects declare: “we don’t want to exclude everything that is disquieting.” A ‘wing’ suspended from a crane is set ablaze to mark the occasion.
35 years later, outside the ceremony for the opening of Frankfurt’s new € 1.3 billion (!) European Central Bank headquarters designed by these very same architects, Blockupy movement protesters violently set cars and barricades on fire while clashing with police. Hundreds injured, hundreds arrested. The new skyscraper has to be cordoned off with razor wire and riot cops to prevent it from being set ablaze by the angry mob. This time, the architects are not in the street.
Architectural manifestoes are such dead letters.