Rafi Karakachian, more abour arhitecture

… in the past, people didn’t sit under the shade of what they planted. We’re losing this concept altogether.

All these buildings which are owned, but nobody is there…

 The issue of continuity

… Life … It’s not history, it’s evolution, and it’s change

… Architecture and architects… … Survival 

… vernacular architecture…

Nowadays, if I’m the client, I want my tree to look as an 80 year old tree, under which I will sit when the project is completed. And this becomes a way of life, which means that all the time that is required to grow a tree you detach from the process. That’s why you start wanting things that have nothing to do with the process that’s natural. This is a shame.

For me, nature is a process.

I would love to renovate what is there, to tear down what’s not good and then put trees there. All these buildings which are owned but nobody is there, they have no use, except money laundry. Would take them out. Of course, if there is a need for it, not. I also think that population growth is going crazy in the world, it should go back.

This issue of continuity…are you familiar with Krishnamurti? All these time related issues, continuity and all that which come with memory, is also very problematic. So in nature, the tree grows, but it’s not attached to the memory and it’s open to change… They live the moment. So if you live the moment, it means there is no time. And if you’re doing anything… OK, you only need memory for practical things, but we have overestimated it, in my opinion, and it has gained so much value that we are in the trap of memory and time and all that. So even archaeology and all that, OK, I know the value, history, tradition… There is nice funny definition of tradition. It says tradition is “peer pressure from the people who are dead”. History as an institution or as an education is new. Like primitive people, they have history, but they don’t think of history, they are history… The term “history” has certain connotations which is a problem. So all these worlds that we have created, I am starting to have issues with it, unless we just give them the right value, OK: history is good for this only. It’s good to be destroyed somehow, without attachment.

Also sometimes, if you go to primitive tribes which still exist today, the evolution there is extremely slow, if there is any. But they’re very natural people. Let me put it very simply: if I can live like an animal consciously, that’s what I’m aiming for. Like when I watch my cat, I’m learning much more from a cat than I have learned all my life through all experiences. Not getting bored.

Life… It’s not history, it’s evolution, and it’s change. It’s adapting to the present all the time, eternally. And present is never the same. Animals have a synchronicity which we have lost. So change and evolution in that sense make sense because it’s the nature’s way of being.

Architecture and architects… In what we do, the need and necessity are not in equation. Everything we’re doing is not needed, even the client doesn’t need it. They already have 10,000 houses. This is the 11,000th.

Survival. Unfortunately… Yes, I could cook. But even cooking, restaurants and all that, the logic is the same, it’s entertainment. And 99% of what we do is entertainment. Why don’t I go home and eat when I’m hungry? And when I’m hungry, I will eat with art, because that’s also part of me. That’s why I was saying: food for me is the highest form of art. Because it’s needed. It’s not that I’m against art. If you approach art with that kind of perspective, then even art would be a lot different. Even art is becoming an institution and it’s extending what we’re doing. Things would evolve and grow differently. But now it comes down to consumption. We’re consuming without thinking.

I’m educated in this system. But when I started looking at things differently, even these needs that I had had changed. I don’t have the same needs anymore. For me now, sitting on my balcony and watching the sea, just watching the sea, has become as satisfying as an experience of doing something. It’s doing something else. It’s being. And then, I might do something. The process, the rhythm, the drive, they’re all different, they’re not the same. Before I needed to do something ten times, now once I year is enough maybe. That’s what I’m saying, and if we keep telling to ourselves that this is a need… Maybe it’s a desire. For me, a need is something that’s external, it’s within interconnectivity, it doesn’t depend on me. I have to eat, I need the light. That is need. Another thing is what I decide to do, it has nothing to do with you, the other. The need is about the interconnectedness. So if you live with that perspective, the desires, they are still there but they don’t impose themselves, they go with the flow, you know when to stop and when to leave them happen. Which are the spontaneity, the accidents in the nature. Unexpected things happen, maybe in the bigger picture there’s nothing unexpected. But something you were not expecting, happens.

So that rhythm, it’s there. If we live the way I was describing, if you look at things that way, you’ll still be creative, but in a different way, in a different rhythm. Now, everything has become an institution, as if they are sustaining themselves, it becomes raison d’être for every institution. They want to keep themselves before anything else, they forgot why they are there for. Unfortunately.

That’s why I like vernacular architecture; an architecture where there were no architects. Where things were done out of a need. You need a shelter. And no other parasites, egos… nothing. And you look at the result, it’s perfect. It blends with everything. You bring the architect and the signature and everything gets spoiled. This is what I’m observing. Of course, there are exceptions, I’m generalizing a little. But in general, that’s how I’m seeing it. Unfortunately. I know this is an extreme position, but…

I ask if building lives or doesn’t live for itself… When you see a building – is that the building or the architect behind the building? Or is that the teacher who taught the architect behind the building? So again, you go back to interconnectedness and everything. The building is the outcome of a process. It has a purpose, it serves a purpose, and its cause. It’s life, and you have to let it be that.

Without people? Well, it has its life because it’s there, but when you look at it, it has its life through you. They don’t contradict each other. It’s there, I did this and then I died. But it is still there and I’m under the ground. Building is still there and it has its own life until it disappears one day. But then, if another person comes and sits on this, it will have a life in relation to that person, and the person will have a life in relation with the building… So it’s all being, in different forms, an observer is there, another observer comes…

I have a problem of categorization. I know the logic behind it and I know the function of categorizing, but I should be aware of what categorization is for us. If it becomes the aim, then I have a problem. It has a function and I don’t want it to go beyond that function. And Krishnamurti says it very well: words, any word you say, it’s an abstraction. It’s not the reality. It’s an approximation and abstraction. So in any word… The word can be very tricky if you take a word as a thing. But if you’re aware that it’s just an abstraction to say something, then OK. But I guess, today’s society, we’ve forgotten all this, probably.


Vernacular architecture, OK, you go to these Greek islands, you go to the medieval cities where there was no architect. They just built because they needed to build. And for me, that type of architecture – forget the churches and all that, even if it’s the most beautiful, I don’t care, I would rather not have it, to tell you the truth – that type of architecture, which comes from the people and their needs, for me it’s so beautiful, so simple, with so little consumption. And there’s no name of any architect. Once you put the name, which is the ego and everything else, then it falls apart. Then you can produce an amazing gothic cathedral or renaissance whatever, Michelangelo… OK?

In my opinion, all this fall started in the Renaissance. Of course, in school we learn that the Renaissance was whatever of civilisation. Then, art was institutionalised. The tribes, they did art, but it was just direct expression of nature… Nature was creating through you. Now, with the ego, you are above it, you control nature. And science…

For me, if art is what the universe is doing through me, the creation through me or through anyone, that’s art. And that reads very well, very strongly. But when it’s the expression of your ego, then you might create beautiful marvels, which I don’t care about at all.

In the Neolithic, an object that today is called art was functional and was not called art. Now, you call it art and it gains authority… He’s an artist, he knows, he sees things that we don’t… The connotation that we have given to art and institutionalisation of art… You know, I go and study architecture, plus architecture I have no problem with it because it’s functional. But today’s architecture and architects – I have a big problem with it, including myself. So anything we’re doing today, architects and engineers, sucks, it is terrible. It’s destroying everything, because it’s done with this very low energy, it’s the expression of that. And all architecture that was done a long time ago, vernacular architecture – vernacular means coming from the people, the people’s architecture – which was built because of need, by the crafts, masons. If you study this architecture and you study our architecture, you cannot compare. That was extremely efficient, simple, beautiful, respectful, the guy didn’t even think he was respectful. Because he lived with what he had; with life, with environment, with nature, with the stars, with the sky, with the universe, because he was connected, he couldn’t do otherwise, he couldn’t not be respectful. Now, because of our egos, we are programmed to be disrespectful and they teach us to be respectful. And in our work – today’s architecture work – that’s so badly reflected. When I see an architect, I ask: if I take out the name from your building, would you do the same thing? Definitely not… All these star architects, the very famous ones today, all their buildings seek attention, wow, this is new… But if I take their name out and you don’t say “This is Bojan,” than Bojan wouldn’t do that because it’s not attracting any attention. Now I understand you have to put your name so people know. We do the same, I do the same, but I’m not proud of it, that’s the difference, I’m ashamed of it. And I tell everyone, not the client, I cannot, one day I will tell them all.