Architectural debates are rubbish.
We’ve all been there: a panel of similar designers with similar views taking it in turns to talk at length about their similar work – too polite, too deferential, too dull. At best they are lukewarm love-ins, critically impotent, elitist and stuffy. Turncoats is a shot in the arm. Framed by theatrically provocative opening gambits, a series of debates will rugby tackle fundamental issues facing contemporary practice with a playful and combative format designed to foment open and critical discussion, turning conventional consensus on its head.

Buildings Don’t Matter

7:00pm, Tuesday 13th June 17

Great architects don’t make buildings, they make brands. From Aravena to Zaha, the power of images transcends the impact of built reality. Even the most globe-trotting paid critic will visit a fraction of the new buildings which form architecture’s cultural zeitgeist. Renders are our barometer of taste, Instagram is our King Maker. Bjarke Ingles will be remembered not for his buildings but for his viral YouTube lectures and rockstar ego.

Ellis Woodman, Director of the Architecture Foundation, has argued that even Le Corbusier and James Stirling were great architects because for them, “the making of buildings was an activity subsidiary to the making and publishing of images.” Or, as Leon Krier has put it, “I don’t build because I am an architect. I can make true Architecture because I do not build.”

Time to ‘fess up and face the music. In architecture, the buildings are a distraction.

In partnership with the Architect’s Newspaper

  • 7pm
  • Tuesday 13 June, 2017
  • The Cooper Union
  • Rose Auditorium
  • 41 Cooper Sq
  • New York City


Turncoats is a provocative global debating society turning public discourse on its head, shaking and serving over ice. It is off the record, offline and riddled with devil’s advocates hiding in plain sight.  Prepare for big arguments from surprising places, where the only allegiances are to the spirit of the fight.

Turncoats is a project founded by Phineas Harper and Maria Smith with the support of Robert Mull and the Architecture Foundation. For all enquiries write to hello@turncoats.uk.

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Site built by Ben Chernett