L'Arca International N° 132

September 2016

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What about the home?

 

We are living in a very unusual age in which reviled globalisation is mainly being expressed in economic terms that generate unexpected and dangerous geopolitical tension. This can be sensed in all nations, as they seek
to make cultural and civil progress, and architecture in particular, which can no longer find its own national identity, is reverting to just a few spectacular types of constructions that will never lead to the founding of any school or, better still, positive line of thinking.
In this kind of situation architecture is increasingly losing its ideal vocation of providing innovation aimed at exciting and protecting human life while simultaneously making it more comfortable, despite people’s perhaps genetic tendency to accumulate wealth and overwhelm their fellow man, even by violent means.

 

Over the last few years in particular, with the political-economic world in such an agitated state and lacking in positive prospects, it would seem that nobody is willing to invest resources and intelligence in designing man’s home for the third millennium. Even the very best architectural minds are almost always being asked to invent new highly aesthetic constructions, particularly in our cities, aimed at providing valid support for the smooth-running of public life and generating of wealth.

 

The very best architects are mainly being called upon to design either simple or complex new buildings (not usually to be inhabited) that are always highly innovative on the level of structural-stylistic appearance and improbability. It would seem that old metaphysical thoughts are gaining ground by proposing visually unstable structures, unnecessary forms of transparency and visual softness/ lightness through forms made of tough and rigid materials. I must, however, acknowledge that the results from an anaesthetic, innovative and professional viewpoint are surprising, as are the emotions they conjure up in all of us when we get the chance to visit them or work inside them. I cannot help but wonder whether the time has come for political and administrative “power” to take advantage
of this long period of experimentation carried out solely
for the purposes of public or private utility and apply it
for the designing of “homes” and “cities”. Projects that have always been based on old-fashioned regulations
and experiments, deliberately never modified despite the fact that technological-scientific progress has completely transformed all our lives.

 

It is incredible to think that cities keep on expanding (creating more and more suburban areas designed based on rules and regulations that are now absolutely meaningless) and residential buildings continue to be just agglomerations of standard houses, all the same, multiplied endlessly and set out as if all families are exactly the same. This is the same principle governing projects for public car parks, where cars, like members of the general public, do not complain for fear of being left out of doors.

 

All we need to do is encourage the launching of design competitions and public-private investment to come
up with cutting-edge ideas that apply the same kind of attention and enthusiasm to investments in property as is normally given to the design of an airport, theatre, hotel or official building, thereby changing market parameters so that economic values are determined by beauty, efficiency and practicality and not just the number of square or cubic metres.

 

Cesare Maria Casati

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