domingo, 6 de julio de 2008

The neutralisation of form

Un artículo breve publicado en el períodico del congreso. Es un otro punto de vista, válido.

by Dominique Perrault

This evolution of theoretical approaches and sensibilities is laying the foundation of the architecture of tomorrow, which will focus primarily on places, strategies, systems and voids, in a word, on the neutralisation of form.

The discipline of building walls, inserting doors, designing windows and roofs was once the sum total of the architect’s role.

Today, under the pressure of another essential parameter - the incessant transformation of territories - it has become obsolete. Territories are ever more complex, disparate, fragmented, dense and polluted. A figurative architecture whose terminology is limited to the words “walls”, “doors”, “façades” and “roof” cannot adequately fulfill their needs.

Now we must think about architecture in terms of landscapes, meaning that we must be fully aware of the fact that we are creating artificial landscapes, that the nature in which we live is more and more artificial. Today, all our efforts consist of attempting to modify the urban fabric, or more precisely what we could call

the urban substance, a challenge just as jubilatory as it is disturbing, precisely because architects can no longer design the city. They have to accept they can no longer take on the city as a whole. They must give up the quest for the utopian ideal of being able to determine its configuration. Still, we are constructing more buildings, infrastructures and cities.

Before becoming “predatory” as it is today, the city was first and foremost a protective place, a place of birth, development and rootedness. It has always carried its own memory within it, as well as the outline of its near future. But how can the city be reconciled with the idea of civilisation, of which it is a cornerstone?
Part of the answer lies in the relationships we establish between the place, on the one hand, and the building on the other. The concept of the envelope stands at the intersection of these two considerations: it links them. This interface can be embodied in a layer, a thickness or a space that slips between the edifice and its context, between the artificial and the natural.

The objective of this procedure is to obtain a transmutation of the part (architecture) into the whole (landscape). More than a mere blurring of perception, the envelope leads to a sort of vanishing of the building, to its gradual disappearance. Whatever motives justify its construction, whether to delimit, protect or isolate, the wall creates separation – the forbidden.

Once fully aware of this limitation, the challenge consists of transfiguring the object that separates in order to substitute it with something that links, binds and creates interrelation and exchange; of imagining walls that are more than themselves, that is to say to create places of transition between the outside and the inside, between the public and the private, between the urban magma and the intimate sphere; of substituting the wall with an “in between”, a new kind of pace, one that stimulates the curiosity of users, strikes their emotional being and, circumventing the filter of the intellect, directly touches their brain.

*Publicado en: Il giornale dell'Architettura. Torino, 01 de Julio, 2008.

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