low cost housing

Creativity can’t change the world

I have always held the belief that a more creative workforce can change the world. This view was challenged in the best possible way by one of the most extraordinary thinkers that I have yet to come across at the Design Indaba. Alejandro Aravena is creating the impossible in the low cost housing environment by challenging assumptions about what it means to build architectural structures for the poor. It is worthwhile to have a look at some of the work that he has been doing on this in Chile. It is inspiring and perhaps the solution we are looking for in addressing our own low cost housing challenges in South Africa.

The 'dotank' work he is doing is exceptional but the tenet which underlies his thinking is for me even more hard hitting. He has to my mind reconstituted the notion of creativity and the kind of work it can do for us in multiple disciplines.  Here is how some of that thinking goes:

It is not because ideas have not been developed that people are galvanised to action, but rather that what has been proposed does not seem to be sufficient. This is what inspires and drives people to creativity. Therefore it is not that creativity changes the world but that the world changes and we therefore need to be creative.  Creativity, according to Alejandro Aravena, is what emerges when there is not enough available knowledge to provide a solution. If there were sufficient knowledge there would be no need to be creative. Creativity can’t change the world. It’s because the world changes that we need to be creative. Creative is thus not a goal but a consequence.  And for it to be an elegantly crafted consequence, the key elements must be constructed around the three key elements of relevance, precision and irreducibility.

It is for this very same reason that creativity should not be propounded as a drive for solutions but rather as a place to craft incisive questions and provocative possibilities in a world where the rate of change is happening faster than our ability to respond to it. And it is this reality which demands an ongoing construction of the possible.  

After all, answers never change the world but questions certainly do. And it is creativity with its muse of curiosity which does this so very well.