After carefully reading the contributions from Korea and Montenegro, we arrived at some questions:
- what could be a common ground that could join us? In a more specific way, what are the most basic problems in the contemporary world that affects all of us indistinctly?
- bringing the problem to our specific field: how do these problems affect and transform architecture? Or, in other words, how can we be responsive and responsible in professional and human means? How architecture could address such problems? Do we have the necessary tools to deal with them?
In the late 90’s, a professor at the University where some of us were raised as architects used to define the architect as “the destroyer of the natural environment”. We still have some suspicious that we – architects, around the world – are, in different levels, still tracking that route.
Each of us would have a different narrative about the history of destruction that the conjunction of economic growth, demographic explosion, colonization, migration, agribusiness and urban development created in each country, in different moments.
We are probably at the edge of an epistème change, when ideas of growth, development, construction, technology, nations, future ... are under extreme suspicion. How these doubts could inform a radical shift in architectural practice? Or some radical shifts, in plural ways?
Could we argue that architecture and the city planning, as we know, as we were raised, as we practice, could be under suspicion as well?
Maybe the possible answers to these and other questions will not come in a form of a manifesto, but could be designed by millions of architects and urban planners around the world in the next years. It is a hope. Maybe our main role as a collective can be to put some precise questions to the world.
A local tale to contextualize our anguishes
Brasil, as other developing countries, faced in the second half of 20th Century a huge demographic explosion that forced migration to urban centers, concomitantly to a very unequal and unsustainable industrial development based on cement, asphalt and fossil fuel. Modern architecture responded to this pressure and built the majority of the main larger cities in the country, that exploded in unplanned outskirts, reinforcing inequalities of all orders.
Now Brasil is an urban country. The main cities present almost the same vacancy rates as the housing deficits. A vigorous proccess of desindustrialization is paralel to the uncontrolled extension of agribusiness over the natural environment. In 2040 Brazilian population will start decreasing. The real estate stock produced under the development process at the central areas of the cities are facing obsolescence.
We are about to say that we don’t need more construction, we don’t need urban growth. But we need urgently more architecture and better urban conditions. With more generous approaches concerning the reduction of inequalities in social and environmental terms. In a more delicate way, as Ailton Krenak, a historic leadership of the indigenous movement in Brasil, teaches us:
“The thought that inspires me most is what has been passed down from generation to generation, over a long time, to people who want to continue living on Earth - having the earth not as a platform, but as an extension of our breathing, of our presence. A living organism that exudes, respects, inspires and gives meaning to our lives.”
Bruno Santa Cecilia, Carlos Alberto Maciel, and the Brazilian Team, November 30, 2020