Mangado y Asociados
Vuelta del Castillo, 5 Ático, 31007 Pamplona, Spagna
Telefono +34 948 276202
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Thinking about context is the essence, the distinctive feature of the architectural project. The consideration of context lies behind the final sense of an architectural ethic that is unhappily not so frequent in today’s most ‘flashy’ works. Architecture must turn the idea of service into its main objective; unlike ‘submission’, the concept of service entails an act of transgression, of giving more, understanding context as something with which it is worth to engage in dialogue, even if the ultimate aim is to deny it. This relationship, because it is problematic and intense, is also extraordinarily fruitful and must be dominated by intelligence and sensitivity rather than by invention or imagination.
Of architecture’s essential elements, the material is probably the only unquestionable one. The material and physical condition of building is not only object of discussion and reflection, but it is also tangible, can be visualized and touched: it is something that can be checked, independently from the ideological position. There have never been as many proposals and as much research as today. Material and program are the two objects of research that have given more interesting and rigorous results over the last years. In the context of an ‘ethical’ architecture, one which demands a greater commitment with the environment, the reflection about materials also acquires a key value. The new proposals in the field of materials shape the formal concepts – enriching and transforming them – and are thus substantial in the sense that architecture is in the end form and content, contrasting with merely graphic or calligraphic approaches.
When the site’s topography is a previous condition, it becomes one of the most useful and fruitful allies of the project. Our retina records images of buildings that are especially interesting because of the way in which they have dealt with topography. From those intuitively topographical, whose form addresses the physical strengths, the direct stresses of the terrain, to the programmatic or artificially topographical ones, as those that turn the idea of platform or plinth into a basic argument, or those that are in essence topography, as is the case of Villa Malaparte. All of them help to understand the importance of this concept not only as a natural determining factor, but also as a rational starting point, fundamental in the design of the building from the outset.
Architecture can be understood as reason’s attempt to go beyond the immediate and oppressive boundaries imposed by nature. These days the rational process has exceeded the limit of the essential principle of respect for nature, and as a result we are living a period of distrust of reason in general, and of architecture in particular, with working methods and buildings that try to dissolve and to blend with nature, revealing a ‘meek’ position that questions whether architecture may be able to offer positive options, able to deliver more and generate a reciprocal relationship with the natural context. This occurs, regardless of their expressive capacity, with those architectures that are shaped only as a direct reflection of mineral crystallographic processes, or with the blobs, curved and twisted ad infinitum as if they were made out of clay.
The capacity to represent architecture should not be confused with the capacity to amaze or attract attention. Very often the most published and widely known architecture is not the one with the greatest capacity to give answers, propose or research, but rather the one with the greatest capacity to generate spectacle. But spectacle is, by definition, momentary: it does not involve continuity. Representation, however, entails the need for contents, value judgements and ideas. It demands an interpretation in terms of meaning, which refers to a key material in architecture, which is time. Only the passage of time gives the word ‘meaning’ all its content, and only the judgement of time can truly show which buildings are able to represent a society or a specific time. An architecture that emerges as a temporary solution with no intention to endure in the future, or one that is stems from material criteria with no cultural or ideological implication do not, in the end, seem credible.