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?
“[…] for the clock is not merely a means of keeping track of the hours, but of synchronizing the actions of men.”
We are equipped with many senses in order to interact with our environment and survive and adapt to even severe conditions. We can measure temperature with our skin, luminosity with our eyes and sound with our ears. Time however is something a human cannot detect or measure purely with his body, despite his life being ultimately dependant on it. Through the ages we have come up with various methods and mechanisms to rationalize and measure time. In his infamous book “Technics and Civilization” Lewis Mumford argues that it was the invention and utilization of the Clock that started the first technological revolution. The conceptual separation of a day into abstract bits that therefore separate another abstract entity – work, into sizable units, allowed for rationalization of days and enabled processes such as planning or measuring efficiency. This kicked off a series of decisive inventions and progress was accelerated.
One of the most peculiar and mysterious features of a city has to be the way it collects, stores and shares its memories. Memories of big and small events, moments of personal drama or of national upheaval, someones and everyone’s stories seem to intertwine in the curious fabric we call a city’s identity.
A city’s memory can be its greatest charm. Walls soaked up in love and romance smell of perfume and lure lovers century after century. Memory of power empowers and memory of courage inspires. Other times this memory might be the one poison slowly draining the life out of a city until it remains all but a memory itself. Some city’s strong and glorious past prevent them jealously from having a future while others, heavy under the weight of their history seek for a different tomorrow of forgetfulness and hope, thus risking their identity and purpose. And then there is the third type – the cities with artificially induced memory. Those cities which were built to represent something they are not. They stay frozen in time as in a never ending coma and leave their visitors with a sense of unease and confusion – for even a beautiful lie remains a lie and it is very difficult to built a future upon an unsteady ground.
Studying cities I am studying the ways a past can define a present or how it can forbid it. How something so temporary as a feeling can become something as eternal as a city and how it is the small stories that contribute to the big history of us.
Buildings denote space. They give it meaning and fill it with function and life. Interestingly though, sometimes buildings come to describe not only space, but also time. They become symbolic for the people and the events they lived through. Breathing in history firsthand, buildings sometimes mean so much more than their function and design. This story is a part of a series, dedicated to such buildings and the fascinating way in which they remember, inspire and describe us.
In a 2010 TED Talk on passion and creativity David Byrne draws an interesting connection between architecture and music. Through the ages, he argues, it was the change in architectural style that induced progress in composing music and stimulated the birth of new genres and musical structures. Each new space has different acoustics and therefore needs a different sound. This direct connection between the two arts, which seemingly have nothing in common, made me wonder if this connection works the other way around as well. Has music influenced and inspired the development of architecture in history? We do know that of all the arts, architecture is the one, which develops the slowest, so whenever a new movement in philosophy, painting or music arises, buildings are the last to catch up and therefore receive heavy influences by all other arts. But music… how?
The Cosmicomics bt Italo Calvino are a collection of beautiful stories flowing through the pages with a witty view on science fiction and jokingly deep philosophical insights. The stories flow, but one thing about them stuck with me, teasing my mind and imagination. Doubtlessly that would be the deliberate choice of the autor to give utterly unpronoucable names to all his characters. Qfwfq, Xlthlx, Vhd Vhd, G’d(w)n, Bb’b and Mr Hnw – just to “name” a few.
“It is getting harder on me lately. The hardest thing is the loneliness. Once I used to stand tall, taller than anything on this big square and the bigger the square was getting, the prouder I was. Now I feel like I am disappearing into a pit in the middle of this endlessly big square that keeps me away from everything that could pull me back to life. A pit as deep as my memories and as grave as my sorrow. I weep not for the times that have gone by never to return, but the times that are to come, which I will see, but never really live. Looking forward to a brighter future is what makes a present so exciting. Looking forward to my future… I become desperate.
This is a story about the everyday lives of every street’s buildings. The happiness and worries of those most prominent residents, who don’t even have a name, but we sweetly call them home.
One of the main reasons why we love cities is because in their royal slowness, they are also so dynamic. Every city changes with its residents, new neighbourhoods pop up, old ones change and so on. One of Europe’s (and not only!) most charming move is the transformation of previously poor and downtrodden areas by artists. As the story goes – a district on the lower end of the spectrum catches the attention of local artists and young people for its low rent prices. The new life in the area inspires many new activities and soon it is the hip place to be.With people on the move, the entire districts changes, but it is only the architecture that remains the same. All the way from Oslo’s Grünerløkka to Berlin’s Kreuzberg, we all know about the social policies that changed their status and the economical aspect to it. This time, we’re looking into the architectural side of the question to see what do buildings have to say about that shift. The following is a conversation we happened to overhear at a street in de Jordaan – Amsterdam’s hippest district, which almost got demolished after WWII for the bad smells of its canals, but now is a blossoming tulip in the capitals garden with property prices sky rocketing.
In today’s conversation we have invited two distinct guests, one based in Spain and another in Austria. The two share a similar intention at their conception and a common start in life, however although both largely succesful now, they occupy a very different status today. In the following quite existential talk between Casa Batllo from Barcelona and Hundertwasserhaus from Vienna, they discuss topics such as concept display, meaning of existence and ways to connect to the public.