BY Anna Kats
It’s tempting to label Zaha Hadid’s rejection of political responsibility as a breaking point for contemporary architecture. Asked about the possibility of migrant workers being abused during the construction of her Al-Wakrah Stadium for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, she replied, “I’m not taking it lightly but I think it’s for the government to look to take care of. It’s not my duty as an architect to look at it.” In doing so, she gave voice to a form of political disengagement common among architects of her generation and their immediate successors, whose training and design culture in the 1990s and early aughts emphasized form making, not activism.
Hadid’s now-infamous statement fueled widespread outrage, generating discussion that has helped make an emerging cadre of younger, politically and socially conscientious architects more visible.
Andrés Jaque, the 43-year-old winner of this year’s Young Architects Program at MoMA PS1, is one of the emerging group’s more prominent representatives. The Spanish-born architect will construct a temporary pavilion in the museum’s courtyard in June, bringing his makeshift, make-do design agenda to PS1’s annual summer concert series and its large, varied public. His three-coned design, named Cosmo, is not — or not primarily — an exercise in form making, but a prototype for a mobile water filtration system that, he says, can be built in water-shortage zones from easily accessible, relatively affordable materials. It will be built from industrial-grade irrigation pipes and water-filtering microorganisms, not glass, steel, or concrete.
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