architecture : theory and strategy

in.dur.ben / 7ply

object article 'archictetural remedies for urban symptoms' subject analysis and proposal for strategic urban development date january 2007 words 10.000 pages 84 author christiaan weiler thanks to my hernia that enabled me to dedicate some time


hybrid identities
the notion of identity in a design context can be either explained superficially, as an applied image, or more precisely as an equilibrium between inherent and supposed characteristics. following the latter principle, a building’s inherent characteristics (its physical specifications), and its supposed characteristics (its intended or evaluated design) need to find an equilibrium for it to acquire identity. this needs time, and when a building is supposed to last for some time, we speak of sustainability. a building that lasts all the time necessary will come across third test, and that is to be able to adapt to the changes in time. finding the equilibrium between complex regulations and a rapidly changing society, is a central issue for the future of architecture.

according to this reasoning it becomes clear that acquiring identity requires sustainability, and sustainability in its turn requires adaptability, so in the end identity requires adaptability, paradoxically. an answer to the puzzle can be found in what is called ‘hybrid identities’. this new demanded hybridity calls for a new type of architecture, an architecture without typologie. however, in order to maintain a spatial diversity in the public landscape that was once made by building types, an architecture has to be devised that defines adaptability without falling to a one-size-fits-all mentality. when programme becomes generic that needen’t mean that architecture becomes generic.

urban inertia
with the population growing and society changing at the speed they do, it is increasingly difficult to manage all aspects of society in one integrated model. models of management are reaching their limits. the same is true for urbanism, it can hardly keep up with the changes taking place. the city has a certain resistance against big and sudden changes, such as present day demography. this inertia can be explained by four symptoms: complex management, long evaluation terms, accelerated settlement dynamics and invisible physical systems. these symptoms can be translated into goals for architecture. architecture should concentrate on playing a complementary and strategic role in urbanism. urbanism plays top-down, architecture plays bottom-up.

the items on the agenda for architecture should remind the city on how to act and react to contemporary changes; changes that will only intensify. it means that architecture should react on short term to urban needs, without too much historical ballast, and with a notion of social and technical performance. it also means that architecture must consciously take part in the demographic dynamics and the consquential urban activities. architecture can deliver an inductive urban enhancement to the city.

the new agenda for architecture needs to be specified with a design approach. the main goal of this approach is to find specific design without typology, to anticipate adaptation to unexpected changes and to acquire identity through user-related development. to facilitate this i’ve decribed seven ‘product scales’, each with their specific life cycles, and their specific user-environment-relation. the resulting building composition will have stable and dynamic features and be able to adapt to its dynamic environment. learning to approach architectural design as an open ended project that transcends the designers intentions, requires a designers anticipations. 7ply makes the complexity of the task compatible to the creative urge of the designer. the imaginative force of design is paramount to the perpetual development of the quality of life. it needs new tools to face new challenges, if only to make new beginnings that have a chance of succes.

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