Fountainhead – Discussion 7

The Fountainhead is most often the one book that is thrust upon the hands of every first year student, and is lauded by a large section of architecture society as a book that transformed their train of thought about their profession, and life.

As such, it was not surprising when it came up at our discussion table and afforded a spirited and interesting session.

Howard Roark – the ideal man and the architect who values his integrity over commercial success. The idealist who doesn’t build for clients, but for his own self-satisfaction, which he believes is the prime purpose and motive of one’s life. The hero who abhors collectivism. A patron of the supremacy of man’s ego.  The stern defender of honor who blows up a building meant for the underprivileged for the reason that his design had been mutilated in its erection.

While a hero of such clarity of thought and integrity might have impressed many, our members seemed to hold an extremely cynical approach to Roark-ism.

Renjith agreed that he held a deep seated admiration for the devotion that Roark possessed with regards to his work. Indeed, any work achieves perfection only when it is love made visible. However, the extreme level of individuality and egotism embedded into one’s work is an impossible scenario in today’s world. The architecture practice is now a play of interdependence between many people and design is hardly ever a one-person job.

Arun added that Utupia is always a mile ahead and pointed out that one cannot afford the inflexibility of Roark that Ayn Rand claims is integrity.  An architect, in Arun’s opinion is one who can make compromises and provide the user what he requires.

Amal found that Roark-an approach to architecture  - the passion towards understanding the various materials and the indomitable drive towards innovation is all good , but divorced from a deep seated and human understanding  of the desires and needs of the people , without empathy to its occupants , no architecture ever can be termed successful.

Deepak brought to light the issue of the degree of ownership that an architect can have over his design. It was his opinion that an architect has no right to destroy the built form of his design in an event that it is not built according to the guidelines specified by him. He went on to add that every individual, however egoistic he may be , is born into a society and must obey the social order. He maintained that, like the harmony of the interdependencies that one finds in the nature, man is also genetically wired to have an interdependent co-existence.

Poonam added that the extreme right-wing ness of Ayn Rand , though spearheads the economy of the leaders countries currently is definitely showing a negative curve and uneven development where in the rich is getting richer and the poor poorer. She was of the opinion that the view that a man’s primary moral goal remains his own satisfaction seems to be the outcry of an extremely narrow mind.

It seems evident  that Ayn Rand is slowly losing popularity in STAPATI , and to me personally , seems a positive development as our world today needs a new clan of architects who can relate to the needs of the people and not stand apart as a group of boorish , pseudo-intellectual , unapproachable individuals.

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