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Daniel Susskind and Alastair Parvin debate the future for architects with Farshid Moussavi

The urban-scale opportunities of 00's WikiHouse (credit: Rogue State Media
00’s WikiHouse at an urban scale (credit: Rogue State Media)

What is the architect’s role in the 21st Century? On 3 March 2016, leading thinkers Alastair Parvin and Daniel Susskind were joined by Farshid Moussavi and Will Hunter at the Design Museum in exploring the contemporary state of the profession.

Today many architects feel that the professional community is in flux; in recent decades, architects have become increasingly marginalised in the construction process, with their traditional functions being usurped by others and with fierce competition causing lower fees. Meanwhile, the pace of change – in particular the rise of digital technologies – presents as many challenges as it does opportunities.

Two speakers who are at the forefront of critical enquiry into the role of the architect presented their visions for how the profession must evolve.

Daniel Susskind’s talk explained how, in an internet society, ‘increasingly capable systems’ will undermine professional monopolies and change the way that specialist knowledge is made available. While Alastair Parvin reported from the frontline of that digital revolution, discussing 00’s work advancing open source design and production, and speculating upon what the economy might look like both for design professionals and also for citizens in the future.

Both speakers illustrated the urgent new models for practice in the 21st century, and debated their positions in a panel discussion with Farshid Moussavi and Will Hunter.



Alastair Parvin is a strategic designer with 00 London, and the co-founder of WikiHouse Foundation. He is currently working on better housing systems, open source design, distributed production, and how the ‘third industrial revolution’ might help us build more resilient, democratic cities.

Daniel Susskind is co-author with Richard Susskind of The Future of the Professions and a lecturer in Economics at Balliol College, Oxford. Previously, he worked for the British Government: in the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit, in the Policy Unit in 10 Downing Street and as a Senior Policy Adviser at the Cabinet Office.

Farshid Moussavi is the founder of Farshid Moussavi Architecture and Professor in Practice of Architecture at Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Her practice’s research arm, FunctionLab, critically examines the relevance of the discipline of design in relation to the constantly changing built environment.