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TEXT PUBLISHED IN THE ARQUITECTOS MAGAZINE
The architectural debate has exceeded the stylistic territory. Building on the human environment must respond to anthropological, sociological, and ecological requirements.
Ecology as an economic-productive responsibility before the sustainability demands, sociological and anthropological requirements as unavoidable human efficacy parameters in the disciplinary field.
Building is a complex and choral exercise of specialties involved in nature’s conservation and regeneration. This is the time for a urgent cultural commitment to optimize, from the project production culture, the environmental balance and the use (extraction, exploitation and recycling) of resources.
The architecture practice asocial and anti-historical character as a formal space language exercise in which the construction is a more or less flowery and virtuous melismatic work, must be urgently transcended by new essential etymologies investigation, generated in soft or low-impact technologies especially applied to the technological and human resources, and linked to the social phenomena of our times.
Building is no longer a rhetorical practice of skins over skeletons, describing a conceptual, social, and historically irrelevant speech, but an action committed to the intervention systems on the environment, inherent to such an environment’s culture, understanding culture as a complex system balances such as phenomenon, energetic, physical, historical, social, economic and informative, etc.
The architecture is more than ever a space construction problem and not a space representation matter anymore.
Construction is well part and parcel, inherent to the architectural project and not just the ceremonial gown which consecrates the space. This is how the construction is not just a one-way journey justified in the ship’s "launching", but a continuous ethics and aesthetics that starts when obtaining the resources, in their manufacturing and rigorous implementation at the work site, in the beauty of intermediate states, to which its implementation in the work site belongs (probably of minor importance) its subsequent exploitation (long-term or ephemeral exploitation) and premature recycling or not of the built and used.
Contemporary anthropologists raise the relevant cultural debate on current production and do so setting as an example the dialectic between symbol and object. Symbols are the products offered to the citizen, understood as a consumer, objects, are those offered to citizens understood as users. We are told, and I here simplify, the symbol is an intermediate product that easily expires, upon which there is little or nothing we can do besides its passive contemplation or use according manuals or conventional rituals. The object, however, it’s meant to be used until it’s worn out, its use value compared to that of change is very high and it lacks of values added by the market economy, so its expiration is null.
It’s important to research from this anthropological debate some of the following, for example. The space configuration conditions and the form of democratic institutions in the service to the common good, that of the production and work spaces, paying attention with absolute priority to ergonomic, comfort and productive dignity conditions of public institutions or private enterprise’s employees. Or to research the form of the public, semi-private and private spaces, not from the design of the scene that surrounds it, but from the citizens’ capacity and responsibility to use it and transform it, ultimately to manage it.
Setting these criteria that concern contemporary architecture, would introduce us into a debate between the object and the symbolic that directly affects the institutional, the participatory, immediate, the mediate, public, private, etc., etc.
From this platform, the dialectic between expressionism, conceptualism, minimalism, etc is really outdated and irrelevant, as the disciplinary construction practice has been for ecology.
Scholastic problems on the spatial "composition" and shape are academic formalisms, digressions of a corporatist, asocial and non-historical lexicon, and even more if they relate to the institutional programs scene of economic liberalism or social classicism consolidation.
Within that same debate, the design action is subject to review because of the own designers position. The position of the modern creator means a radical movement for the conceptual field core to a continuously changing and heteronomous situation around the same creator. We note, even in our time, the inertia of the most creators to accept this new reality, clinging to the creator’s premodern model emerged by the inspiration’s grace and only legitimized in productive decisions. This position model requires of the disciplinary, aesthetic, historical, reduced to internal matters and corporate knowledge that validate it.
To maintain this position its precise to bet for an universal order and ethics that explain and justify it, within whose "morals", the creator is a competent priest in the creative practice.
The contemporary position understands the universe as a complex and chaotic existence under a network of relations, especially energetic, incomprehensible, but detectable, and to its respect the creator is only the shaman with whose incantations just intend for reality to be propitious. The creator from this new position is a versatile actor with diverse and inexhaustible profiles for the discipline, who exercises mainly new insights to the human environment, rather peripheral than macular and speculates unforeseeably and simultaneously macro and micro reality aspects.
For this creator production is committed to the extension of the human beings perceptive scope and the incorporation of areas marginalized by the disciplinary to increase the social enjoyment capacity in the outcome of his/her work.
The period which we are going through is still a therapeutic process of palliative measures whose results, fragmentary, inconsistent and urged by the events, have little validity for a disciplinary, sociological, ecological and cultural thorough review.
In the sociological, because it is not about building repeated theme parks for a more participatory society, but actually about increasing perceptive and participatory citizen accessibility in public space.
In the ecological because it is not only (which is now inevitable and urgent) about environmentally adapt the urban and architectural space, but to deepen the energy and environmental prescriptions in short, medium and long terms with the disciplinary and politic transversal interaction it may require.
Culturally because the extension from the natural and urban environment to the NET sphere implies an input of energetic and technological agents in such a qualitative and quantitative magnitude that new cultures, new languages and codes, and new relations between human and nonhuman get built. This, with the fascinating by immense and imaginative, creative territory that goes far beyond wire-less virtual reality centers, video games and ludic environments.
It is necessary to redefine the production paradigm including its role transformation, the very concept of its work object, utility and durability and its own position in relation to the creative work that must derive from the romantic model centered on the creative ceremony axis, to the modern creator prowling periphery, as far as the contemporary model diffuse and incomprehensible position. The gaze, as I said, is no longer macular, and efforts to improve what has already been improved are irrelevant even over an enlarged peripheral view, compiler of a context that’s emergent, disciplinarily marginal and ephemeral as the own durability of the space and form decisions.
Instead of typing the same story just stylistically more polished, with the same but more sophisticated instruments for an even more selective social class, it is about really writing new stories, with new tools, new grammar, for a society understood from other perspectives and Why not? Building the desired as possible and the possible as feasible.
The theory and criticism (ethics and aesthetics) heavy inertia to reiterate the problem of contemporary production from its stylistic discipline is particularly worrying, and will also be from other peripheral forums; sociology, biology, philosophy, art, from which reading, inventory and assessment of the contemporary design practice reference parameters are formulated.
The architecture practice is essentially creative and innovative, and from this statement design decisions venture over a present and immediate future, as unknown as exciting. The attributed contemporary creator is dragged by this vertigo.
Obviously we have the option of moving from this position to some other that would be peaceful and stable, isolated from the outer bustle, like that anchored in the discipline and protected by its own game rules. Laden position before history (understanding it as dynamic text of peoples’ culture), and even if being adrift, club members will simulate a stable reality and a timeless ethics.
However, everything vibrates in an unprecedented eruption. Nothing survives subject to the powers of nature, technology and social forces, without mutating deeply. Paradigms and roles from which we have interpreted our present have literally been stoned by the environmental conditions that define us today. The emphasis on operating from those is sectoral and often pathetically ineffective compared to the hystory’s holistic evolution.
Dialectic scenario which remains and will remain, while it keeps on being immediately profitable in economic or political added values, feasible in a very short-term.
The lack of symmetry between the draught of contemporary controversies and the actions-responses from public and private management is still possible, because of the products symbolic effectiveness, its economic profit and the course of a number of well financial-cultural armed intermediaries, very effective as commercial agents of both parties to sustain the situation while its possible.
The reality, however, is different (certainly uncertain and this is perhaps its essential attribute). In this contemporary complex and imprecise scenario, matters requiring urgent attention are ecological requirements, anthropology and contemporary sociologies paradigms and the extension of the human environment by new technologies.
I emphasize in saying that these requirements already affect the urban and architectural project (in the human being environment in general) with similar intensity and results as that produced by the emergence of new technologies over space, city and architecture in the 19th-20th Century transit. Visual Arts, literature, medicine, scientific philosophical thought, etc. were deeply revised by the same requirements.
From the design work there is a perspective linked to the investigative production. An advanced perspective from the theory and criticism position, which is always operating on less complex matters and from a second line of debate. From and for this design work, for the present we should qualify as immediate future, creators are summoned to an innovative commitment of inexhaustible accomplishments.
The design or projection debate is, above all, a benchmark for reflection over our professional time. Ecological requirements are shown as a hard dialectical territory between soft technologies radical options, to not less radical positions that rely on hard or paleotechnic technologies to make action techniques and procedures. Environmental conditions are so serious and urgent that both positions (and the intermediate ones) are forced to do a common front. There will be a day, when the results will support differentiated propositions on which to monitor experiences, evaluate technical behaviors and results to address the disputes that today already underlie.
Contemporary social sciences use advanced methodologies to evaluate social phenomena in the “micro” space and on innovative behaviour in gregarious relations of all kinds. In this process the previous and new actors have been pronounced and identified, the new ones incorporated by computer and technological development in an inventory that dramatically increasees the conventional social material and raises new response modes over its corresponding space.
The net Sphere, a second environment created by man on the urban, which was imposed on the natural environment, is a transcendental contemporary context for relationsips between human and nonhuman (also among themselves, obviously) that constitute already a high efficiency dense culture dilating man’s ability to relate in all respects with the environment. (Social, productive, historical, etc., etc.).
Experiences in these new environmental, sociological and net paradigms are, at the moment, pioneering tentatives, very valuable for how innovative they are innovative, and also (perhaps mostly) for their ability to extend the perceptive field and thereby the collective imaginarium with propositions, sometimes dissonantly disturbing but often valuable for increasing our discipline’s formal space inventory.
For creators a new inedit horizon to explore is opened, and a liberating universe upon which operate from redefinitions of the real and virtual, the present and future, of the peripheral, transversal and emergent, useful, of the durable… and of the own position for creative decisions, from the context, etc, etc., all this in the fascinating contemporary creator’s construction that must replace the romantic-nineteenth-century model and the modern fin-de-sièclemodel.
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