Whenever I think of the stereotype of architects, I don´t think of the so frequently described image (black clothes and heavy black-rimmed glasses) with which we are often associated. Instead, I think of the complicated words we use, the highly elaborated speeches we usually give to our clients, half of which make less sense than we like to believe.
I try to understand why we architects speak as we do and the only thing that comes to mind is the almost pathological need to seem more intelligent than other mortals. *Yes! I said it!*
What impresses me the most is that our system actually works! As crazy as it sounds, most of the times, the number of contracts that an architect gets is directly proportional to the level of sophistication of his/her vocabulary.
I try to use my vague knowledge of psychology to decipher this mystery, and it strikes me that perhaps clients really assume that architects are smart, because they (clients) don´t understand even half of what we architects say, ergo *See? I am an architect so I use big words. This means therefore*, architects should be a lot smarter than them (clients), ergo *again, big word* architects should be very good at what we do. *Logic, right? …right!*
I really think that if a client believe in this theory, he/she can´t be so smart, or at least is someone who doesn´t use logic on a daily basis, * knife in my neck * because all this madness of incomprehensible words compared with people´s IQ, doesn´t make any sense at all, but it is so common, that frightens. Every time I ask for an opinion on any of my essays to a non-architect, I get answers such as: “it sounds nice, but you know I don´t understand so much about it.”
I don´t know when does this process of becoming complicated language machines begins; perhaps we are simply born with it and we have this language of architects printed in our genes, or perhaps it is a product of a brainwashing process conducted during our years in architecture school… I wish I knew the answer.
In any case, I’m sure it is a higher power that escapes our control, and the reason why I am convinced of this is because, even though I´ve was always made fun of the language of architects, I keep using it whenever I get to meet with my clients; I always delight/confuse them with one of those phrases that only we architects know what it means. The most surprising thing of all is that we (architects) really believe that what we say is completely logical and understandable.
I´m thinking that it would be interesting to create a dictionary of architecture; but not one of those with the technical terminology that already exist; I mean one with the most commonly used phrases we employ to describe our projects in the descriptive reports.
One that can be lend to prospective clients, to be read before meeting with us, so we don´t make them feel like complete ignorants. But, on the other hand, then we couldn´t meet our pathological need to seem more intelligent than the rest.
Mhmmm … now that I think about it, the dictionary doesn´t seem like such a good idea.