Fair Play: Levelling the field and changing the rules of architecture and design
Koozarch’s editorial for Issue 02, to run from September to November 2023.

Fair Play identifies the power of bottom-up organisations and collaborative efforts composed of plural, diverse and previously disenfranchised publics.

Fair Play advocates for a more complete and inclusive history, challenging the dominant, singular and exclusive voice which until today has monopolised the architectural discourse;

Fair Play understands design institutions as much more than neutral platforms or nonpartisan sponsors, but rather as active laboratories to imagine different, more inclusive futures for all.

Fair Play is dedicated to the decarbonisation of architecture through the exploration of revolutionary, non-extractivist approaches for the transformation of our cities, infrastructures and ways of living;

Fair Play aims to create common ground to pause, share, challenge, re-think, re-imagine and further discuss the role and power of architecture as a social act.


Our discipline must consider if we can afford to waste more time imagining infinite architectures, the concrete and steel of which rests atop previously failed cities. Nor can we keep waiting for technology to arrive and save the day; spatial, social, cultural, political and planetary issues are at once too far-reaching and too entangled for any of us to ignore, in our professional or even personal spheres of life, while imbalances and injustices continue to privilege or disadvantage us against each other. Fair Play, Koozarch’s second editorial series, asks architectural, design and cultural institutions what playing fair means to them: Fair Play as a call to action, a catalyst of ideas and an accelerator of knowledge that aims to build inclusive, collaborative bridges across disciplines, challenging institutional boundaries through a fundamental three-part question.

WHAT IF… The ball was in your court... Would you PLAY YOUR PART? Would you LEVEL THE FIELD? Would you CHANGE THE RULES?


All words have at least one definition, most have two, and some can even hold multiple meanings at the same time, depending on their syntactic category. Let's take "fair" as an example. The word "fair" describes something "marked by impartiality and honesty: free from self-interest, prejudice, or favouritism." But it can also be something "conforming with the established rules" or "open to legitimate pursuit, attack or ridicule," as well as "sufficient but not ample," "having very little colour," "clean and pure," and last but not least, something (or someone) "not very good or very bad: of average or acceptable quality." And that’s just as an adjective; when used as a noun, a "fair” signifies "a gathering of buyers and sellers at a particular place and time" or "an exhibition designed to acquaint the general public with a product or idea." Furthermore, the dictionary offers a total of seventeen definitions for "play" — including leisure, music, sex, drama—all concepts comfortably associated with that simple four-letter word. And yet, when put together, "fair play" has only one definition: "equitable or impartial treatment," and one comprehensive synonym: justice. Or at least that is what Merriam-Webster tells us.

Context is key to understanding language (and architecture). Without context, language has no meaning (neither does architecture). Paraphrasing Ludwig Wittgenstein: meaning arises from the rules of the game.1

It is not a coincidence that Wittgenstein uses the word "game" to describe his theory of language. "Game" is closely linked to "play". And what is the difference between "play" and "game"? Rules. Play is free, game is not so. The latter derives from the former, relying on a set of rules that limit and shape it, giving it structure, duration, and logic; a defined set of guidelines that allow for replication (with infinite variations, of course), but always following the same format, the same template. Fair play, on the other hand, is a component of games. “Play fair" is a common mandate we have all heard whenever we have competed in a race, match, or game.

If the built environment is our context and architecture our field: what does Fair Play mean for design?
Are you committed to Fair Play in architecture design?
What standards are you setting for Fair Play in terms of design andarchitecture practice in the 21st century?
Can architecture imagine and create a better, more just, equal and fair future for all?


Convinced of the urgency to tackle issues of visibility, equity and justice in the built and unbuilt spaces of architectural practice, Koozarch has asked a selection of worldwide institutions to visit its collection and provide a few words alongside select one visually compelling ‘object’ that directly represents their stance on Fair Play.

arc en rêve, aims to shape quality living environments. Their dynamic and eclectic programme seeks to engage all ages, nurturing architectural sensitivity and critical thinking, contributing to urban, landscape, and design development. This project thrives on collaboration among professionals, intellectuals, and local communities, all striving to enrich our understanding of contemporary life and its future.

Bauhaus Earth strives for a future where human habitats store carbon, generate energy, and enhance biodiversity while prioritising equitable access, sustainable practices, and a harmonious relationship with nature. Their approach transforms architecture and urban planning to address climate restoration and social equity.

The Canadian Centre for Architecture is an international research institution and museum premised on the belief that architecture is a public concern, working toward fostering affirmative relationships with Indigenous and other peoples across Tiohtià:ke/Mooniyang/Montréal through the process of creating a living land acknowledgement. The CCA is driven by a curiosity about how architecture shapes—and might reshape—contemporary life.

The Center for Arts, Research and Alliances (CARA) is an arts nonprofit, research hub and publisher that champions diverse artistic narratives through publishing, exhibitions, and fellowships. Striving for equity, kinship, and care, CARA uplifts voices often unheard, reshaping cultural dialogues. Their certified commitment to fair compensation echoes their dedication to a just and joyful society.

Disìo is an Italian non-profit organisation promoting culture as a tool for building community growth and inclusion through several means, including artistic residencies, workshops, and public events. Disìo’s projects include the participatory urban regeneration workshop Visioni Collettive Festival, winner of the Creative Living Lab grant from the Italian Ministry of Culture, and the tree planting urban project Mettiamo radici 1 albero x San Ferdinando.

The Emilio Ambasz Institute for the Joint Study of the Built and the Natural Environment promotes research about the relationship between the built and the natural environment. The Institute, established in 2020, is part of New York’s MoMA’s Department of Architecture and Design, and its activities include panel-discussion series like The Circular Museum, video series like Built Ecologies: Architecture and Environment, and exhibitions like Emerging Ecologies: Architecture and the Rise of Environmentalism.

On site since 2018, Floating e.V. is a self organised space and group, where practitioners from a wide range of backgrounds meet to collaborate, co-create and imaginatively work towards futures. The association’s mission is to open, maintain, and take care of this unique site while bringing non-disciplinary, radical, and collaborative programs to the public. In other words, it is a place to learn to engage, to embrace the complexity and navigate the entanglements of the world, to imagine and create different forms of living.

Founded by the late Sri Lankan architect, the Geoffrey Bawa Trust seeks to further architecture, arts, and ecological studies. Their year-round programs, tours, exhibitions, and lectures enrich global discourse on the built environment and arts. While conserving Bawa's estate and residences, the Trust democratises architecture, landscape and design.

The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture - The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art is a college founded in 1859 in New York City with a historic mission of fair access to education, including The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture. The School of Architecture Archive records the school’s pedagogy by documenting student work, providing resources, and producing exhibitions, publications, and events for the school’s students, faculty, and external audiences.

The Jencks Foundation is a cultural laboratory exploring architecture's cosmic and cultural essence. Established in 2021, it offers exhibitions, commissions and seminars, fostering critical historical and artistic research, with a focus on the polyphonic, the ecological, the timely and the ironic.

The M+ is Hong Kong's museum of modern and contemporary visual culture. Designed by Herzog & de Meuron, it is one of the world's largest in its genre. M+ has four permanent collections mainly focused on Asian twentieth- and twenty-first-century visual arts and culture but defined from a global perspective. The architecture and design collection consists of thousands of objects, including posters, electronics, textiles, furniture, drawings, and models. The museum recently acquired all of the Archigram's archive.

Mobile Makers, based in Chicago, empowers youth through design-focused workshops, fostering future architects and designers, while advocating for diversity in the architecture and design sectors. Their programming nurtures creativity and equips young minds for transformative roles in their communities.


1 Wittgenstein called a “language-game” whatever we do when we use language (Sprachspiel in German). For more on this, see [online]

27 Sep 2023
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8 minutes
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