Regionalism and Global Diversity
Local vs. Global _ Aldo Vanini
The overwhelming force of economic and cultural globalization, as the unified model for every contemporary action, produces the disturbing idea that “global” is contemporary and modern, and that “local” is ancient.
The increasing influence of the market on decisions, use of resources and, ultimately, cultural choices, also now commoditized, makes decision makers at every level maintain a conformist attitude that flattens and deadens results. The local community perceives the objects most representative of this formalistic global movement as alien presences, at best useful as landmarks or visitors and tourist attractions.
On the other hand, the reaction to a planetary homologation that ignores roots and references to local cultures and traditions, is likely to lead to a vision, at best conservative, at worst pleased with nostalgic and vernacular quotations. Both scenarios cost us the richness and complexity contained in the answers that architecture could provide in every time for specific climatic and geographical conditions, even developing peculiar building techniques related to the local context.
The contrast between modernity, conceived as adherence to an international repertoire, and local culture of space and building, is a false and ill-posed problem. Regional architectural traditions, only apparently static, are, in any event, the result of an ongoing historical evolution and, for this reason, can and must create their own expression of contemporaneity.
The attention to an architecture generated by local experience, or at least from the confrontation between external experiences and genius loci, is also crucial to overcome the poverty of typological imagination that afflicts the spectacular monuments of global architecture.
New regional approaches to architecture are not nostalgic archeology of folk traditions, but contemporary spatial and anthropological conceptions closely related to the extraordinary richness of local cultures.
Just as the respect of biodiversity ensures the survival and stability of the natural environment, respect for cultural diversity guarantees the survival of an evolutionary architectural thought.
Dwelling in Memory: between rehabilitation and reuse
Dwelling in Memory: between rehabilitation and reuse _ Angelos Psilopoulos
Occupying redundant spaces has long been an option for dwelling. Vernacular architecture teaches us that even the simplest shelters co-exist with if not feed upon– pre-existing structures either natural or man-made. In many cases the juxtaposition between structures of different background or functional requirements can create an interesting mix; not necessarily an articulated division between old and new, but not nearly a consistent evolution of a given form. These structures may emerge out of simple necessity, such as building upon a pre-existing wall in order to save materials. But in an age with a superfluous potential for building, it seems they stem out of the simple aesthetic appreciation for qualities such as memory, time, narrative or fantasy.
Should we take “home” as a place beyond mere functionality to somewhere personal stories are written, our dwellings become a hybrid between the past and a yet-to-be-written future. They are, more or less, a palimpsest; histories told within histories, told upon histories, in a never ending process of constant evolution. Contrary to a singular and universal act of creation, the houses we present emerge out of an already soiled canvas, and the stories they tell are infested with patina. In this context, novelty becomes a question of adaptation: history is not exhausted in a blind academic adherence to authenticity, and ‘contemporary living’ becomes a statement that embraces the allure of the past.
Thus our habitat becomes living in-between. It almost feels as if we enter a warped reality where glimpses of our progress seek out the essences of the past, and time stands suspended between technique, technology and the imagination. Obviously this type of intervention is required to follow a certain set of requirements, rules and preoccupations ranging from legislation to academic inquiry. Yet, it strangely feels as if the primary rule of these buildings’ transformative process pre-exists within their own condition, as if they incubate the terms of their own regeneration. To name it architecture, it requires a gloriously modest act of creation; to inhabit it, we establish – more than a new ecology – a new habitus, a new way of living.