Aliens

In many places, architecture does not really make any sense. I say that in terms of buildings not being suitable for the environment they’re built in. This trend is even more noticeable in developing countries in Latin America, Asia and Middle East. But this does not only happen in such places; it is reasonable to say that a big amount of modern buildings are being conceived as spacial suits, i.e. completely removed and independent from the surrounding world. Complete aliens, disregarding the magical things of a diverse planet.

It seems that our current society simply disregards the lessons that ancient peoples have to teach. We are no longer interested in practical solutions to problems specific to where we live. Instead, we are willing to replicate building typologies just for the sake of it. Buildings have become alienated from the environment; a direct consequence of being designed by alienated people. Architecture mirrors the aspirations of a society, it tells a story. I could ramble about the motives that led to this scenario, but this is not important at this moment.

What interests me is the level of discrepancy that is very much noticeable today.  There a huge gap between the « ideal » design (one that takes into account the local attributes of a place) and the existing design, dictated by the standards of real state marker, society et cetera. We have no longer a strong connection to the place. Place has lost is power.

This discrepancy is true in multiple scales. Disregarding the cellular level, I’ll say the most basic one is the individual scale. How do you, as an individual perceive the world you’re in? How to create a sense of place in a world that has an enormous ammount of non-places and common-places? The second scale is, as I have already discussed, the building scale. I’ll stop at the third one which is the city scale. Our cities are problematic.  We have a hard time to understand cities as ecosystems. Newman and Jennings in the essay « cities as sustainable ecosystems »  argue that cities should be self renewing. This is a very difficult thing to achieve, especially in a world that wastes so much energy.

What has been happening to our world? Why do so many buildings and whole cities seem like spaceships that landed on Earth from outer space? And the most important, what can be done to change this scenario? The answer is as complex as the question.

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