The Anarchi

The Beginning

Timeline: 2013

The architectural workshop is an annual national gathering of architectural students in Malaysia. Each year, architectural learning institutions would take turn to host the event. It began in 1987 in UTM Kuala Lumpur. 26 years later in 2014, the architectural workshop was held in UiTM Seri Iskandar, called TIANGSERI. This is where The Anarchi made their first public appearance.

The Anarchi was conceptualized in the end of 2013 – one year before TIANGSERI took place. Co-founded by two postgraduate students, Atta Idrawani and Nadzrul Fauzi, it is a quest for reclaiming the soul of architectural workshops. After almost three decades, they viewed architectural workshops seem to have lost their relevance and somewhat detached from the real-world scenario which are already sinister and disconnected from the true, noble architectural values.

Traditionally every year, each school would send participants to the architectural workshop with unique themes, which deemed to be more dividing rather than bonding these students together. However, this is inevitable and therefore, is an opportunity. The duo began to formulate the fictional narrative to introduce the ideologies of The Anarchi to the targeted audience – the participants of TIANGSERI.

The Character: ‘The Anarchi’

The duo began to create a fictional movement, as they believe fictional narratives can be absorbed quite tolerably by the audience. The Anarchi is a portmanteau of the word ‘anarchy’ and ‘architecture’ (also means Anak Archi to some extent. It was too corny so it did not stick very well). It is a movement with the objective of reintroducing true principles of architecture to students (the grassroots) who are still can be saved from the manipulations of the ‘establishment’. With the credo "Together, We Will Save Architecture”, They have no leader, they have no persona, thus the mask is a symbol of purification from personal ego.

The Anarchi was fictionalized to have existed since the pre-colonial era. They were said to be among important figures in the social hierarchy but somehow have turned to be rooted more towards the movement of the people and detached from the elite society after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. Since then, The Anarchi involved only in the empowerment of architects and the oppressed.

The first cryptic propaganda was uploaded on 26th January 2014. Each propaganda was uploaded every 26th day of a given month before the event took place. The number 26 was favorable given that it was going to be the 26th architectural workshop. The message of the video intensified gradually until the final video, which was uploaded on 26th October 2014.

Act 1: The Recruitment

Timeline: January 2014 – October 2014

The duo first recruited only 5 persons within the circle of UTM graduates. Their responsibility was to spread words of mouth across all media to exaggerate the scale of the movement and to become provocateurs in discussing The Anarchi in the social media and the public domains. After a few months, the secret recruitment drive expanded to include the UTM participants themselves. Each recruitment session conducted in full secrecy that even other UTM students and lecturers were unaware that The Anarchi is and has always been from UTM. All preparations for TIANGSERI had to be done under a different pseudonym for that matter.

Act 2: The Charade

Timeline: January 2014 – October 2014

Skudaipura2 was the pseudonym (or a codename) used throughout the act before the reveal. Interestingly enough, it also sounded like Skudai Pura-pura (Skudai pretends), which was more like a dead giveaway for the whole thing. Skudaipura2 were intentionally planned to become incompetent delegates, even the logo was copied from an existing stock logo that got other uninformed UTM students furious about the decision. Invitation letters from The Anarchi were also sent out to all delegates from other universities asking them to join the noble movement. All letters were sent out from different post centers particularly in Shah Alam because, well, for some reason.

A Twitter and an Instagram account were also created to channel various messages to the targeted audience. A clue was given at each end of the twits, photos and videos, in the form of a hashtag spelled as #TruthIsAMachine. This is an anagram (which spells ‘UTM is The Anarchi’) designed by Nadzrul as to reveal who The Anarchi is. Several fake accounts were created to fuel the debate about who The Anarchi is across all social media platforms. The intention was pretty simple, to divert people’s attention away. The plan seemed to work.

Act 3: The Revelation

Timeline: July 2014 – October 2014

At this point in time, everyone are already talking about The Anarchi and it seemed that no one has ever suspected UTM. The only challenge left was to create a way to reveal the identity of The Anarchi in a graceful manner. The TIANGSERI’s performance night deemed as a perfect place and time. Directed by Noramin, a percussion set was an apt direction to go to for revealing something that has a darker side at the end of the show. As this was set and everyone has trained for their parts, the only thing left was the actual message that The Anarchi had to deliver – the covenant.

Act 4: The Covenant

Timeline: October 2014

Apart from all the gimmicks, The Anarchi had to stay true with their genuine agenda. The ‘Six Pillars towards Better Architecture’ is an apt name for a declaration intended to be revealed at the end of the performance and to be signed by all representatives from all universities.

The six pillars raise fundamental architectural values and thinking habits need to be observed by the delegations to fulfill the objective of saving architecture as a whole. This declaration, despite all the gimmicks and performance, is legit and real. Each pillar touches on these critical points:

1st Pillar: Rights and Power

2nd Pillar: Empowerment

3rd Pillar : Technology and Heritage

4th Pillar : Identity

5th Pillar : Environment

6th Pillar : Social Responsibility

Act 5: The Aftermath

Timeline: October 2014

Despite the phenomenal reception, not all students were too keen about The Anarchi. Some viewed them as troublemakers at the event while some had, in fact, went on creating anti-Anarchi reactions. As this might be unhealthy in the long run, The Anarchi is currently retired from all architectural workshops. But the objective of The Anarchi is clear, to save architecture.

Maybe this is just a beginning.