I passionately believe in the need for a theory and approach for a building to “grow”, adapt and develop in time and space as fast as society and technology does.
I am continuously investigating the extent of oblivion and remembrance needed to foster sustainable urban, architectural and cultural progress.
In the following I trace a first train of thought – one of time and space, building and rebuilding and the meaning of doing so. It is a poetic study of architecture and building in time. Thereby I seek to learn the extend of the problematic and to express it with words and examples.
“The word ‘building’ contains the double reality – both the verb and the noun. And where architecture strives to be permanent, a building is always building and rebuilding”
– excerpt from “How buildings learn” by Steward Brand
The value of a visible trace of history in a building is the living proof and example that architecture is an art of storytelling and as such, one of its most important features is a timeline and a qualitative change of state trough time.
Historical buildings in a city help establish a local cultural identity and set a starting point and a direction for further growth and development. When after World War II in bigger parts of Europe the new laws for protection and preservation of architectural monuments kicked in, it resulted into much needed care and restoration of many historical buildings and neighborhoods. Almost 80 years later we are happy to have such places as the Jordaan district in Amsterdam, the Belgian town of Brygge or central Vienna and connect to the past. But as beautiful and nostalgic as these places are, despite the efforts of town legislation and administration, these places are changing. Once vibrant centers of exchange and hustle of everyday life, many european cities are turning into giant museums of themselves, serving not the residents of their own town, but profitable causes such as tourism and merchandise. Residential function slowly but definitely moves out of the historic neighbourhoods to give place to the most temporary function of all – retail.
The Death of an almost eternal city comes with its recognition for UNESCO – or so say its inhabitants. The city of Split was founded in 305 AD when Roman emperor Diocletian built there a fortress for his retirement years. Ever since the inhabitants of the area have found shelter within the walls of the fortification and continuously changed it. Walking around the town today, visible scars of every generation are carved in the white stones of the building, and there is something poetic and beautiful about it. But all poetry ends in recent years when the city is discovered by mass tourism as a trip highlight. Since then the city is flooded with exterior air conditioners hanging from the walls, plastic chairs on every free spot and huge and shiny shopping windows. Residents have since all moved to a different part of town, often with regret and despair.
The director of Venice Biennale Paolo Baratta once said “We live with our memories, but survive thanks to oblivion”.
A historical city is not a mere wonderous backdrop for life in any century to happen. The place defines the people and the people define the place. Architecture needs to be lived, needs interaction, change and care to exist. We don’t need more static monuments of the past, we need to actively learn and improve our surroundings.