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Global Architecture Platform

Architecture, Next

by Josep Lluís Mateo

Reflecting on the future from the tough situation in which we currently find ourselves, could set us off on all kinds of unattractive paths.
In an extreme form, politically correct moralism or the reduced horizons of rediscovered localism.

I shall try to avoid them.

A first and obvious argument is reflection on the development of globalization.

And imagining the (naive?) possibility that the free movement of capital were controlled socially and had a positive influence on the general quality of life of human beings and did not, as has been the case, represent the widening of the wealth gap and, with profit as the sole objective, the disappearance of the quality of things and life.

Also that it was possible to imagine an interconnected world, where we could all fit together, rather than attending the familiar spectacle of the construction of walls and fortresses that separate and isolate us.

Some arguments that are closer to architecture:

1. Faced with the emergence of digital technologies that we experience and use, remember that architecture, our destiny, has the mission of building the real, physical world. The world of sensations, of space, of light, of matter. Increasingly necessary and important in a virtual world of pure ephemeral image.
Of particular relevance in the future.

Architecture, our destiny, has the mission of building the real, physical world

2. It was my lot to live through the confinement and lockdown imposed by a pandemic in a remote place, with almost no human presence.
There, as spring arrived, I saw the prodigious unfolding of nature as it bloomed.
Nature, as the first reference point for architecture, an argument put forward at the same time by multiple places (ecology, engineering, sustainability…), will certainly continue to grow.
Our architectural tradition can also proudly show how, at many moments in history, human construction activity has been based on an intelligent, non-predatory relationship with the natural setting. And how, by transforming the environment, it has helped it to develop.
Although it is perhaps a commonplace, the nature-architecture interaction will be—is—a priority argument in the future (to be avoided: political verbalism, economic cynicism, machinist excess).

Nature, as the first reference point for architecture, is an argument that will certainly continue to grow

3. Dominant ideas about the city have been affected by our recent experience.
Both the myths of density and modernity’s delusional growth, and nostalgia for the nineteenth-century historical city are references to be reviewed. As is the mythology of public transport and its other side, the end of the private car…
We have to propose new urban models that, while guaranteeing interconnection and exchange, allow movement and enjoyment of collective space in safe, attractive conditions.
The discussion about new urban models has only just begun.

Dominant ideas about the city have been affected by our recent experience

4. Finally, this recent experience, lockdown, has presented us with the direct experience of the living conditions of our homes. Unquestionably varied, with cultural diversities (such as differences in domestic space between northern and southern Europe), but in my opinion long in need of fresh ideas and proposals for this most important part of the built environment.
Excessively marked by the pure greed of capital and, at the same time, by the mental shutdown and operational rigidity of regulations and public systems of official control.

Lockdown has presented us with the direct experience of the living conditions of our homes

The consequences of this experience will probably be more visible in the mid- to long term than immediately. And they will undoubtedly be the result of social agreements in which architects, as specialists in constructing new realities, have to provide necessary and appropriate syntheses (projects) for transformation.

16.Jul.2020 1499 views
Josep Lluis Mateo Josep Lluís Mateo

Josep Lluís Mateo (Barcelona, 1949). Architect ETSAB (Barcelona High Technical Architectural School). PHD (with honors) at the UPC (Polytechnic University of Catalonia). Professor em. Dr. of Architecture and Design at the ETH-Zürich (Swiss Federal institute of Technology). He has taught and lectured at leading academic and professional institutions. His practice, mateoarquitectura, is globally active and it aims to connect intelligence and artistic ambition with pragmatism and objectivity. It has won many prices and awards; his body of work has been worldwide published and exhibited.

The stopped present could be a good place from which to look at the near past and, most of all, the future.

TRANSFER NEXT aims to invite shared reflections on the new scene that coronavirus will probably usher in.

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