Re-assessing Local Identity
Re-assessing Local Identity in the Context of Global Architecture_Angelos Psilopoulos
There is a wide gap between building and architecture, a kind of distance that the latter needs to cover in order to justify itself against the trivial. Most people mistake it for mannerism, projecting aesthetic quality as the foremost indicator of architecture’s point of exclamation. Architects usually claim an interpretative stance against a given situation, the latter usually being a precedent in building form or program, or the contextual depository of the very land it occupies; it almost appears as if the principal requirement architecture has to meet is to elevate its practice away from the commonplace.
The cases we review here are set against a background. Anything but indifferent to their context, they propose the terms by which their defining elements relate to a situated condition. This is not the sort of overwhelming architecture your academic modernism would herald, nor does it necessarily classify under what Frampton1 coins as “Critical Regionalism”, namely “regional “schools” whose primary aim is to reflect and serve the limited constituencies in which they are grounded”2. What’s most intriguing about these cases is that their “regionality” does not necessarily entail locality for the place of origin of the architects responsible: these are global architectures, in place with a local condition.
Persistent and Evolving Traditions
Persistent and Evolving Traditions_Paula Melâneo
The growth of the globalization phenomenon and the generalized urban expansion resulted, during the recent years, in an increasing concern about retrieving the local cultural aspects that can somehow define an Identity. This could not be seen as a condition of exclusion but, on the contrary, of plurality and as an enriching experience.
In architecture this quest for that forgotten Identity can mean to look back to the vernacular architecture and learn how it can contribute today to the contemporary needs of each society.
This process is surely easier in smaller scale projects, like in the private dwelling design, where the big investments group corporations are out of the game. This guarantees that the personal interests and affections are taken into account over economic interests or market strategies.
The presented projects are all located in Asia, from the Middle East, Central, East and Southeast Asia. They are examples of the diverse approaches and results that such distinct local traditions can induce to the contemporary architecture project. Those numerous variables run from the differentiated life experiences developed by each culture, going through the answers to specific climate characteristics, the use of local materials and construction methods, to the way of dealing with cultural and historical legacies.