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Miguel Angel Alonso del Val, Director de la School of Architecture

Why Architecture?


Sun, 04 Oct 2015 20:46:00 +0000 Published in Navarra Newspaper

THIS week, which we begin by celebrating tomorrow, October 5, the world day of the Architectureand in which COAVN and COAVN have jointly organized the the Schoolthe week of ArchitectureIt makes sense to remember, today as yesterday, the social necessity of architecture not only because it is a historical human need, but also because it is the art of our collective report ; an art that, above and beyond buildings, creates cities.

No other art has the capacity to transmit to later generations the reality of the society in which it is built. If culture means the cultivation and transmission of knowledge and meanings associated with a certain time and built in a certain space, architecture is capable of transmitting to us, beyond the aesthetic principles and artistic values of an era, a file of the forms of public or private life, of political or economic institutions, as well as a record of its technological and material developments.

If architecture is the best witness of its time, to consider it as a mere question of formal boast or to value it according to the media impact of its authors, means to degrade the meaning of an art that should never have submitted to the urgent dictates of virtual consumption, but should have remained as the result of a patient search that tries to build form and space under an order. A vital and technical support that architecture describes with the instruments of art, knowing that its ultimate reason is not to create objects but to establish an environment of relationships with the environment where it arises and a framework where the traces of the inhabited reality are imprinted.

An environment and a framework whose landscape is the city. A city that, like today's architecture, must respond to three ideas that are also written with ce: the ce of compactness, the ce of complexity and the ce of connectivity. Therefore, the question of the need for architecture today refers to the defense of a compact city as opposed to a dispersed city, to the need to build the city as a "meeting machine", as a great cultural mechanism that favors
the meeting of the different, where the different learn to coexist and to be community. Also, compactness favors pedestrian or cyclist displacements, reduces energy consumption and promotes the mixture of uses as much as the citizen crossbreeding, which are source of cultural richness and complexity.

Complexity not only facilitates the meeting of diversity but is also the fundamental support of a structure of citizen security. The city is safer the more compact and the more complex it is, the more it is lived and shared, because the meeting between different people produces safety. This is the great bequest of European cities, which are so attractive and safe precisely because they are dense cities, interlocking cities and composite cities.

Complexity also means incorporating into architecture and the city the productive uses of the third industrial revolution, based on communication. A city is all the more creative the more it favors meeting among its citizens through its urban structure and technological infrastructure. Thus, connectivity should not only be thought of in terms of transportation, but also in terms of accessibility to energy or information networks, to the mechanisms of creation of knowledge in the new century.

Architecture must also be part of a complex speech that does not translate directly into formal dispersion, but rather into respect for the character of its program and its urban position; that is in favor of complexity and the mixture of uses; and that, at the same time, favors not only connectivity between private and public spaces, but also accessibility to its infrastructures. Thus, architecture financial aid to create relationships that are part of a whole, of an inter-acting organism where, more and more every day, institutions and companies must learn to cooperate and contribute to the definition and identification of the city of the future, the city of the three Cs, which also spell culture, coexistence and knowledge.

At the beginning of the 21st century, society, like architecture, need to overcome the avalanche of forms coated with media informalism that seem like the technified repetition of that other Modernism, of floral craftsmanship, which, a hundred years ago, invaded the West with a supposed "Art Nouveau", and which disappeared dramatically in the face of the contradictions that reality projected on an Ancien Régime that was being devoured by the Great War. These are questions that this century has not yet asked itself and whose answer will undoubtedly come from solutions where Architecture continues to be written with A for Art and City with C for Culture.