From the issue feature, "Empathy Fire and Spades: Design for Social Innovation."
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manifesto infographic

At its roots, the manifesto is a public declaration of intent presented plainly so that it can be easily understood. It’s a fascinating document because it encourages the author to state their convictions (past, present and future) in a solitary statement. Equally important is that the author projects this declaration to the world as a strategy for practice—it is a roadmap, publicly announced. In its advanced forms, the manifesto becomes a call to change, often rallying against common conventions, criticizing earlier movements and, if effective, proposing an alternative trajectory. Throughout history, the infectious manifestos have enrolled advocates, sparked further manifestos and rallied the like-minded into tribe-like cultures. Traditionally, the manifesto addressed political or artistic issues, with architecture, landscape architecture, industrial design and graphic design as subcategories. Today, the manifesto can apply to any subject worthy of an opinion.

This study maps 110 design manifestos from 21 countries written over the last 110 years, and in order to create a manageable collection of data, several guidelines were used in the selection process. These manifestos focus specifically on architecture and are limited to documents available in English. Also, as a bar to entry, and to cope with the transient nature of Internet data, the manifestos represented also exist in physical form. As the design world proceeds further into theoretical pursuits, the manifesto can challenge a wider spectrum of ideas. It can also more easily fall victim to hyperbole, rhetoric or theater for its own sake. Admittedly, this study favors down-to-earth, practical manifestos that often relate directly to the nature of building, occasionally at the expense of excluding the academic or theoretical.

Graphically mapping this data allows for a different (and hopefully insightful) lens through which to view the nature of the architectural manifesto, distinguishing clusters and identifying outliers. There are patterns to recognize, diamonds in the rough to discover and notable world events to correlate.

With any luck, this study illustrates the significant impact the architectural manifesto has had on civilization and the built environment; it teaches us that the principles and conventions we take for granted in our present time were hard-earned victories, the outcome of social struggles fought throughout history by determined architects and designers. These manifestos propose that it is important for us to declare our beliefs in design and pledge them to the community. And they advocate for a continued effort of exploration and diversity, adding to the plurality of ideas and actions.

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manifesto infographic

manifesto infographic photo

Photos by Cole Benson. Courtesy of RMB Vivid.

Infographic References

1. The Art and Craft of the Machine, by Frank Lloyd Wright. Published by the National League of Industrial Art. 2. Programs and Manifestos on 20th-Century Architecture, by Ulrich Conrads. Published by The MIT Press, 1964; first English language edition, 1970. 3. Theories and Manifestos of Contemporary Architecture, edited by Charles Jencks and Karl Kropf. Published by Wiley-Academy, 1997. 4. The Poetics of Space, by Gaston Bachelard. Published by Beacon Press, 1958. 5. Architecture Without Architects: A Short Introduction to Non-Pedigreed Architecture, by Bernard Rudofsky. Published by University of New Mexico Press, 1964. 6. Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth, by R. Buckminster Fuller and Jaime Snyder. Published by Lars Müller Publishers, 1968. 7. Arcology: The City in the Image of Man, by Paolo Soleri. Published by The MIT Press, 1969. 8. The Power of Limits: Proportional Harmonies in Nature, Art & Architecture, by Gyorgy Doczi. Published by Shambhala Publications, Inc., 1981. 9. For an Architecture of Reality, by Michael Benedikt. Published by Lumen Books, 1987. 10. A Critic Writes: Selected Essays by Reyner Banham, by Reyner Banham, Mary Banham, Sutherland Lyall and Cedric Price. Published by University of California Press, 1996. 11. The End of Architecture? edited by Peter Noever. Published by Prestel-Verlag, 1993. 12. Wabi-Sabi: For Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers, by Leonard Koren. Published by Stone Bridge Press, 1994. 13. Constructing a New Agenda: Architectural Theory 1993–2009, edited by A. Krisa Sykes. Published by Princeton Architectural Press, 2010. 14. brucemaudesign.com, by Bruce Mau, 1998. Republished in ARCADE, Issue 30.2, Spring 2012. 15. Thinking Architecture,by Peter Zumthor. Published by Birkhäuser, 2010. 16. Theories and Manifestos of Contemporary Architecture, Second Edition, edited by Charles Jencks and Karl Kropf. Published by Academy Press, 2006. 17. Icon Magazine Issue #50, August 2007. Published by Media 10 Limited, United Kingdom, iconeye.com. 18. Urban Future Manifestos, edited by Peter Noever, MAK Vienna, Kimberli Meyer, MAK Los Angeles. Published by Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2010.

Quote References

quote #, reference #
1, 1
2–12, 2
13, no reference
14, 3
15, 4
16–19, 2
20, 3
21, 5
22–23, 3
24, 6
25, 7
26–32, 3
33, 8
34–35, 3
36, 9
37–38, 3
39, 10
40–41, 3
42, 11
43, 12
44, 3
45, 13
46, 14
47, 15
48, 13
49–50, 16
51–52, 17
53–55, 18