When Zaha Hadid, architect of Qatar's major stadium for the 2022 World Cup, was asked about the deaths of hundreds of Indian and Nepalese migrant workers who reportedly died in connection with construction work, she responded:
"I have nothing to do with the workers; it's not my duty as an architect to look at it."
The architect's disavowal of social responsibility seems almost unremarkable today, but once upon a time architecture was driven by a moral imperative, a belief that rational, efficient buildings could provide as many people as possible with a home and even transform the world.
According to architect and theorist Rainier de Graaf, architecture has instead become a story of compromise and banal setbacks, governed by commercial interests at the expense of public good.
The profession has always been fuelled by a collective sense of grandeur; young architects graduate with what de Graaf describes as near-megalomaniacal ambitions, omnipotent fantasies of being able to, quite literally, construct the world. The reality they encounter, however, is far more prosaic.
"It's often considered an elevated art form, above everything else, when of course the reality is it's amidst everything else," says de Graaf, the author of Four Walls and a Roof: The Complex Nature of a Simple Profession.
"Architecture, like everything else, is very much a product of the circumstances in which it is produced.
"Basically we're talking about a discipline that isn't autonomous."