UIA CONGRESS: THE ATMOSPHERE
In quantitative terms the UIA-Barcelona Congress was a great success. The organisers expected 6000 visitors at the highest. But, in fact, more than 12'000 persons had come from all over the world to attend the event.
- This shows clearly that there is a great interest in the professional field for new informations!
Many speakers at the conference characterized the present situation of architecture and urbanism as a "time of great changes".
- But the consequences of this statement were not realised,
- namely, that there ARE problems and that these problems have to be openly discussed.
This manifesto is based on general impressions about the congress and attendance of one very good section "Semiotics and Architecture: Topogentics" (but this will not be dealt with here) and another less stimulating section "Architecture and Communication".
ARCHITECTURE AND ITS SYSTEM OF INFO-DIFFUSION
The program of this session (see also 'report') showed interesting headers which promised intense discussions and debates about the state of the arts and how the architectural production is represented and interpreted in architectural magazines and journals.
Personal feeling: Any impressions that there could be factual problems in contemporary architecture and urbanism were carefully avoided. Certainly, some speakers hinted to problematic domains. But most of these indications had hardly any more weight than a momentary impression, an idea, an opinion, not really something worth to be debated about in depth.
- However, "Architecture and Communication" was rather a nicely spotlighted performance on stage with a rather simple choreography.
- Information was essentially vertical. The auditors were apriori conceived to be students (or spectators), not visitors of a congress, who come with their own professional backgrounds. There was very little horizontal discussion.
- Glimpses were given into various editorial offices with friendly speaking peoples who are discussing rather harmless things.
- Remark of an auditor: I am astonished that ONLY GOOD NEWS ARE DISCUSSED HERE. ARE THERE NO BAD NEWS IN ARCHITECTURE. SHOULD WE NOT DISCUSS BAD NEWS TOO?
Note that these magazines in fact function as 'the media' of architecture and urbanism, providing communication among architects worldwide and, to some extent also between the world of architecture and the laic public.
- If this impression is generalized: the largest world congress of architects and urbanists gives the public the impression that the architects' and the urbanists' world is "the best of all worlds possible!"
- While the problems are raging outside!
BUT, THERE ARE PROBLEMS
Open debate is part of cognition and progress. Architects and urbanists can only fulfill their social responsabilities if they open the discussion on their professional problems:
Urbanisation - unlike e.g. an epidemy - is a "sneaking process". Its negative impacts do only become visible with a certain density of urban transformation.
- only this will lead to progress and ameliorisation of present conditions.
Open discussion of problems is an 'early warning system'(-> Pruitt-Igoe)
- When e.g. Mies van der Rohe (together with Philip Johnson) realised his first 'curtain wall' high-rise slab, the Seagram building in New York (1955-58), this was only a local topological landmark.
- But, through the schools related to Mies van der Rohe's doctrines and through publication of such works and their diligent imitation by many other architets, his 'curtain-wall type' invaded many city centres of the world.
- As a mass product glassy curtain wall skyscrapers started to wipe out traditional urban textures and their humane scale all over the world and thus spread a frightening and disorienting feeling of rationalistic gigantomania into the vital environments of the laic population.
Next chapter: 20 PROBLEMS
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