Architecture Plagiarism: Are We Being Inspired or Are We Cheating?
There’s always an ongoing debate on whether some designs are stolen or “modified” to become original. Most people assume that if we post pictures of our designs online, we would be giving away our work and other designers and architects will eventually steal them. But should we really hide our designs from the public? Are plans and sections so sacred and innovative to the extent that architects are applying copyrights to them?
Kevin Hui and Andrew Maynard of Youtube’s Archimarathon chat about copying designs, how students and architects can learn from existing designs, and whether plagiarism exists in the field of architecture.
Architects put a lot of pressure on themselves and their designs: they want their project to be unique and unprecedented. This grave need for originality has forced architects to secure their designs at any cost. For instance, during preliminary meetings with clients, architects’ protective instincts automatically kick in and influence them to impose copyright rules in the fear of the client stealing away the plans and going to another architect for a cheaper execution price. Kevin Hui sees it from a different perspective; if a chef presents you with the menu, would you just take off with it and make the dishes at home? Even if you did, it wouldn’t be the same, would it?
As Hui and Maynard explain in the video, a project is a lot more than just how space is organized on paper, and architects’ talents are not based on how well they can draw black lines on white paper. It is the intelligence behind creating a design with cohesive storytelling and intricate site contextualization, or else it will fail as an architecture.
As Maynard puts it, “architecture is a remix of well-founded ideas” and in the case of referring to built projects, architects and prospective architects should observe, analyze, learn something, and then use what they have learned.