martedì 3 aprile 2012

Twelve points for an architecture of the 21st century

1- the aim of architecture

'Architecture' is the name we give to all the physical and mental feelings we have for being in a man-made place.
Nevertheless architecture is an art which expresses itself through the practice of building. We say 'architecture' when a building moves our emotions: we feel touched and impressed. For this reason it's not form or the daring of the architectural work that engage us more, but the ability of architecture to create a place with a strong identity, to house our lives in beauty, in the most proper and most apt atmosphere for our gestures. This is the aim of architecture and In this way architecture is the art of life. A complete art (not just visual) that expresses itself through light, forms and materials reinforcing our deepest feelings and gestures and giving them a home. An art which enhances our awareness of the present moment and of our actions.

2- the relationship with history

The magnificence and grace of ancient buildings never stop to amaze us. The patina that time and use give them is a priceless richness. It's not possible to replicate forms and proportions of buildings of the past to reproduce the feelings they generate. Good contemporary architecture expresses itself and the values and needs of nowadays man. It can have a good dialogue with ancient architecture making itself authonomous and therefore authentic. An architecture for the 21st century has to be able to include the architectural themes of history, comprehending the basis of its values, but transcending them linguistically at the same time. I see a good approach to design in starting from scratch each time, beginning from the archetypes of building reasoning and working on their primary meaning, and taking strenght from it.

3- Consciousness of the material building

One of the things that can make us fond of a place is a feeling of 'well-done', something that conveys completeness, order, which evokes the real reason of things. It's like when we look at a small object well built that shows both a comprehension of the nature of materials and the crafting ability of man.
I think about a piece of furniture, a leather jacket, a pair of fashion shoes. Good built architecture gives us the same feeling: we find things where we think they are, spaces and light are right, materials go along with us with their fragrances and tactility. Everything seems complete.

4- Hapticity – multisensoriality.

Good architecture addresses to all the senses and human perception simultaneously. Recent neurobiology studies have showed that human senses are a multiplicity and are always elaborated together by the brain, in a way that is not actually separable. The value of a space deeply depends on its tactile qualities too, on its warmth, on the way sounds and words reverberate, on the way we perceive it with our feet, on how it shakes our hands whilst we get in or touch it. It depends on how it's related with our sensibility and corporeity of complex human beings.

5- Detail

The attention to detail strongly determines the final quality of a building. Even the best project loses its strenght and substance without care for details. As Le Corbusier used to say it's from details that one can discern between good and bad architects. A difference of five centimetres in a cornice may determine its grace or heavyness.
I like to make a parallel with games. What distingushes a game from another are rules. A forward pass is the soul of American Football but prohibited in Rugby. A difference of five centimetres may decide for good or bad, again.
The rule of architecture is detail because it's through it that the building expresses itself in the parts it is made of. To obtain a successful detail it's necessary to understand what is its role within the entire building, to understand what the detail must express in that particular point of the building. This is a good way to take care of construction.

6- Relationship with landscape

Architecture is always related to a specific site, it is born in a place and is in relationship with an environment, with other buildings, with the landscape. A good and simple rule is to enhance the quality of a place with the new building. Like all simple rules it's difficult to put in practice. Being able to put himself in discussion, being patient and perseverant in design research are essential qualities for a good architect.

7- Urban and civic values

Both the words city and civilization originate from the latin word civitas. Is it really possible to separate the civic values of a community from the urban quality of the cities where it lives? Or the two things are inextricably bound and inter-dependant? One of the roles of architecture is to build and reinvigorate the civic values of human life through a strong influence on the quality of the spaces where human actions take place. Good architecture has to try to integrate with the exixting city, to build it, to connect and phisically interrelate with it. The epoch of urban iconic/spectacular and isolated buildings has to be left behind.

8- Critical Regionalism

The relationship between architecture and place is not just about perception and social interactions but also cultural. A good building must be able to measure with local culture. A correct approach to the use of materials, the critical re-invention of typologies, development and enhancement of ancient building tecniques in a contemporary way are elements which add deepness to a new building and that radicate it more in the cultural fabric where it is located. Critical approach guarantees to avoid mimic or copy of ancient forms and buildings.

9- Sustainability

Historians have begun to define the epoch we have just left behind as the 'oil parentesis'. Modern architecture has actually been possible more thanks to the huge availability of fossil fuels then to the invention of reinforced concrete and construction steel.
To transmit a culture to the next generations essentially means to transmit them all we know about what it means to be human. It is therefore not possible to think to give them a know-how and a culture unless this is sustainable, for present and future times.
The years we are living in and the next ones will be crucial for a radical re-thinking of an approach to architectural design which has to be sustainable.
And not just in terms of energy efficiency, but also of re-usability of materials, low production impact, durability and life-cycle.
A regional and critical approach gives the great potential of an architecture that can be a true cultural basis on which to develop human life, thought as all the relationships with nature and community.
To fall in love with the place we live in is a necessary condition to desire that this place endures in the future.

10- Aging and time perception

A good building grows with the people that inhabits it, it gets enriched by their habits, their objects and contributes. A good building welcomes the life of its inhabitants and don't dictate unwanted rules. It is even enriched by small scratches, by the consumption of handrails and staircases. It silently tells the stories of the people that live there and from these it gets deepness and complexity.

11- The importance of revelation

Authentic architecture always gives us a new and unexpected emotion. What we actually find is a state of mind as possibility. A possibility that was already within ourselves but that we didn't know or we didn't know we had. When architecture is well conceived it positively influences our lives giving us some freedoms and parts of ourselves we didn't knew yet. A gift of unexpected beauty is a gift of freedom, that once it is discovered can remain with us.

12- Cultural role of architecture

In these ephemeral years the role of architecture can be a role of resistance. Good architecture has still the possibility to tell the importance of durability and of mantaining a value. Good medieval buildings, or of the reinassance, of the XIX century, post-bellic or contemporary will remain such forever.

True architecture never goes out of fashion and never cares for fashion.

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