My Dad is Better Than Yours
Exclusive Behind-the-Scenes Interviews with Three Shortlisted Contestants at the 9th Annual Architecture Awards

My Dad is Better Than Yours. © Gem Barton.

 

Text by Gem Barton

 

“My Dad is Better Than Yours” is set at a prestigious architecture awards ceremony. The characters tell their story; they have memories, are self-aware and reflective, and offer an alternative view of our relationship with the built environment. They discuss their conception, their growth and development, their alliance with their creators, and ultimately their users/owners. The interviews explore the notion that “you are more than your creations and your creations are more than you . . .” an experiment in architecture, adaption, and identity—expression, cohesion, and transference between creator and creation.

 

Harry, My Dad is Better Than Yours. © Gem Barton.

 

HARRY

The bookies’ favorite and the most recent edition to the Triumph family. Completed in 2015, Harry has good pedigree and a strong track record, having scooped two other awards this year.

 

How are you feeling about the competition?

“I’m pumped! I have pageant-savvy parents and we’ve been to loads of these things, so I feel quite at home. Plus, the press seems to like me, there have been some pretty awesome editorials, and I photograph alright too; that always helps. I guess it’s the Triumph trademark; we have good bone structure, a strong jaw line. My folks are well respected; they have high expectations, so there’s quite a lot of pressure on me. I hope I don’t let them down.”

 

What is it like being a Triumph?

“You can walk down the street and tell immediately who my brothers and sisters are; there’s a clear family resemblance. Sometimes I wish I was a bit more unique, you know? I guess I’m judged a lot on my parents’ successes too, but I don’t want to be defined by them forever. Sure, I was their idea, but they don’t “own” me, nobody does. All of us in the shortlist, we have a lot to thank our parents for, I get that, but at some point, they have to let us go, do you know what I mean? They have to let us grow up. Being a Triumph comes with a lot of responsibility. I feel sometimes that people are waiting for me to fail, like I don’t deserve the hype, like I didn’t earn it . . . I’ve got a lot to prove you know?”

 

What are your hopes for the future?

“I might be young, but I can see how fickle this world can be. One minute you’re in favor and the next you’re not. Not that I think that will happen to me of course, but I can see why that would worry others.”

 

If you could say anything to the judges what would it be?

“I would say to the judges . . . judge me, for me, not by my siblings’ successes or my parents’ reputation. I want to win, sure, but on my own merits.”

 

Sam, My Dad is Better Than Yours. © Gem Barton.

 

SAM

Born in 2014 of the minds (and hands) of do-it-yourself collective Ace & Friends. Rolling in on budget but three months over schedule, this sensitive soul has captured the hearts of the general public.

 

How are you feeling about the competition?

“I’m not really sure how I feel to be honest. My parents thought this competition would be a good idea, to increase my exposure, toughen me up a little bit I guess. I’ve never been to the city before. Where I’m from, we’re all pretty similar, so I’m a bit out of my comfort zone being compared to the others. But it’s fun to meet the other new builds on the block. We share stories about our families, our backgrounds, and it’s quite reassuring to hear that we have all been through sticky patches.”

 

How do you think you are different?

We are so different! My dads are artists, and I have been teased before because they aren’t qualified architects. I don’t really understand. I’ve been brought up to believe that anyone can do anything, but I get the feeling that there’s a lot of judgement here, about ability, about assurances, about classification—so I’m not too confident about the judging to be honest. On the other hand, I made the shortlist, so maybe things aren’t as bad as I think they are. But I definitely feel like the underdog. People tell me I should embrace being different, that it’s OK to have a different upbringing, and that I have a lot of love to give to anyone that owns me—but I don’t like to think about being owned by anyone else.”

 

Does anything else worry you about the future?

“I hope that any future owners will respect my parents’ blood, sweat, and tears. I’m finally beginning to believe in myself, to understand my roots and where I come from, and I’m worried that future changes might set me back you know . . . bring back the doubt.”

 

If you could say anything to the judges what would it be?

“I would say [long pause] . . . we are not all the same, for a reason, so please don’t judge us all by the same criteria.”

 

Francis, My Dad is Better Than Yours. © Gem Barton.

 

FRANCIS

Adopted by CNVrT in early 2015, one-hundred-year-old Francis has been through the mill. The largest on the shortlist has been revitalized, with heritage intact, full of charm and modernity.

 

How are you feeling about the competition?

“I’m feeling rejuvenated! I’m over the moon to have been given another opportunity. No disrespect to my previous owners, but I had been left alone for so long that I had given up hope you know, of being occupied again, of having that energy. My adopted parents gave me that, I have a new lease on life now, and I’m so grateful for that and forever indebted to them for seeing the best in me, even when I looked my worst. Others weren’t so lucky—I’ve seen many of my old pals broken, parts lying in the streets like a silent war . . . it is heartbreaking. So yes, I am feeling rejuvenated!”

 

Tell me more about your new look.

“It’s not just a façade, let’s get that straight to start with. They took my heart, and they restarted it. They listened to my stories and they renewed my memories, so part of the old me still lives on. I feel like I have a twin now, we sit side by side, but we’re not identical. You can tell we are related. I guess you could say that we have the same mum but a different dad. Do I feel different? I do, but in a good way, a very good way.”

 

How are you adjusting?

“I will admit it was difficult to begin with. I was comfortable before; I’d been around the block enough times to know where I stood. But then things changed, more people were looking at me, it felt a little intrusive for a while. I’m still figuring out how I fit in this new space, but I am excited to learn, people just need to be patient.”

 

If you could say anything to the judges what would it be?

“New doesn’t mean best. There’s life in the old dog yet.”

 

My Dad is Better Than Yours. © Gem Barton.

 

Gem Barton is an author and course leader of BA (Hons) Interior Architecture at the University of Brighton, UK. Her research interests and specialisms include design education, speculation on the future of ‘tomorrow’s designer’ the humanization and objectification of space, the grey area between reality and representation, and the use of fiction as a means for driving and understanding architecture. Current research focus is on ficto-critical endeavors in design pedagogy and narrative writing crossing social, cultural, political, and feminist issues.
www.gembarton.com | @gem_shandy



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