Since the middle ages the human perception of space has changed as dramatically as merely everything else. Improved transportation and technology have been widening the horizon of mankind since the invention of the wheel in faster and faster paces. Today the digital domain causes a rapid shift in that perception and takes a progressing larger role in our lives. More and more often people describe themselves as cosmopolitan or global citizens and seem not to be bound by geographic locations. So is the connection of humans to their places expiring?
It is difficult to realize the value of something until you lose it. In his movie “Architecture at war”, Robert Bevan tells a story of the targeted erasing of memory by the deliberate erasing of a place. In time of war, when the domination over a group of people is the goal, the destruction of their culture and their memories becomes a powerful tool and architecture, as a definite physical mark of a community, becomes a victim.
When on the 9th of November 1993, the 16th century bridge in Mostar was destroyed, people came out from their hiding places to see in awe the wreck. Many people lost their lives in the war and there are always casualties and collateral damage. But when a building of such historical and cultural significance is deliberately destroyed, it is a huge blow to the moral of a community. At wartime, one expects that people will die. But that bridge was supposed to be there for the future generations. People are temporary, but culture is supposed to last and so its physical manifestations.
“The city itself is the collective memory of its people, and like memory it is associated with objects and places” – Aldo Rossi
People are people within a place. A place gives them identity, history and security. The place for people is their past, their present and their future. We might not be bound by the locations of our origin anymore geographically, but culturally. Our cities are as fascinating as they are for they are the place for all and we all leave our marks on them continuously.
“The Destruction of Memory : Architecture at War”, Robert Bevan