Negroni Talk #8 – 29th April 2019
Fail Safe, Safe Fail, Fail Better!
In engineering and design, a fail-safe is a system that mitigates further harm or failure. Mistakes, bad decisions and a lack of skill can cause great harm to projects at any point in the process and architects often have to step in with their fail-safes. This can involve taking the blame, sorting the problem or even reversing the fail into something positive.
Though there are many ways to define the success of a building (PR spin, fees, satisfied clients/users) failure persists and practices continue as architecture and design always comes second to financial or political constraints. Counter to this, there are spectacular and popular pieces of architecture full of failure that are meekly accepted by the user. In this context, is failing safely working for architecture?
Failure is a part of everyday as designers of the built environment, so should there be a new discourse on our achievements, frustrated projects and failed masterpiece? Should we be more open about them? Can we learn from failure? Or do we continue, in our fear of being classed as ‘bad architects’, to default into a future of safe fails?
Tim Abrahams, journalist (Chair)
Carl Turner, Carl Turner Architects
Jane Wernick, engineersHRW
Valentina Miceli, WilkinsonEyre
Nile Bridgeman, Afterparti