What is critical practice?

Manoj Parmar | 17th April 2022

The role of critics or who qualifies as an architectural critic, is often argued within the architecture fraternity. Very often such a position enacting the role of critics is treated to be outside the sphere of practice. Such an assumption seems slightly problematic and it attempts to indemnify the role of an architect or imagines architecture to be subservient or limited to an “enterprise of global aesthetics / innovation into glittering forms” or an “enterprise for self-serving biases” or a “self-serving response based on perception”. If one looks closely and asks the simple question about which practice in the city is a critical practice or which practice falls under the garb of a self-service enterprise, perhaps the question related to the role of architecture in the society may become clear to us.

The construction of the interpreter is not that of just an intercessor between architecture and the society, but that of the role of practice which translates the concerned matter into an approachable dialogue or piece of literature. If we are in agreement with the statement then it implies that architecture and architectural service have a didactic end.

Having argued that, lets sharpen the debate further. If architecture and the architect are the galvanizing force that inform the prevailing current economic and social issues, environmental inequity or climate change, then the role of practice is not just limited to the act of making, but also to the act of disseminating or becomes a propositional act that informs the society at large. Hence the argument is, whether critic or criticism is not outside the practice, but forms a singular entity.

In addition, the architects practice and critics writings often succumb to reaction and not response. We often examine architectural production with a pre-conceived reaction and not allow the experiential and intellectually crafted response to manifest. The critical practice identifies the core value of freedom, far away from subscribing to self-service biases & mends the way as a social enterprise that weaves its way to a non-hegemonic change.