Materia #18: The Open Project
August 14, 2019
Jose Mayoral Moratilla has been chosen to edit a well know Chilean architecture journal “Revista Materia.” This issue of Materia Arquitectura assesses the notion of an open project. A notion that understands obsolescence as an integral part or function and accepts the possibility of transformation as an element of its own nature. The six essays in this issue offer varied perspectives on the open project: the programmatic undefinition, the technology of automatization, the obsolescence of the periphery, and the open logics of urban projects. This number includes an interview with Lacaton and Vassal and contributions from Pier Vittorio Aureli, Federico Soriano and Marina Otero, among others. Below is the introduction to the journal.
“Society lives under constant uncertainty because of the relentless changes that affect the factors that condition what philosopher Zygmunt Bauman posed as, the contemporary “liquid life”. Since the beginning of modernity, architects’ field of work has become a social and cultural context that tends, increasingly, towards transformation. This condition, as well as modernity’s own acceleration, places all architectural spaces against a future, practically inevitable, obsolescence, due to the external parameters to which architectural and urban reality is subjected: new programs, technological breakthroughs, alterations of context, demands of climate, and urban trends. The architectural project will not stand unchanged, on the contrary, it will be forced to constantly face new circumstances.
Considering these factors, as well as accepting the need to understand the project as an open process that can incorporate the undetermined and unpredictable parameters that the future may present, this issue of Materia Arquitectura assesses the notion of an open project. A notion that understands obsolescence as an integral part or function and accepts the possibility of transformation as an element of its own nature. The six essays in this issue offer varied perspectives on the open project: the programmatic undefinition, the technology of automatization, the obsolescence of the periphery, and the open logics of urban projects.
Federico Soriano and Dolores Palacios reflect on the open project from within its programmatic condition through the actions of de-specializing and de-programming. The first action demonstrates the need to integrate spaces without a single function and with a less defined nature. The second, in turn, invites us to disengage from the systems of order that we use when designing to increase the possibilities of programming in the process of composition.
The challenge of program is also addressed by José Luis Bezos, who studies the adaptability of the house for future uses and situations through a series of examples that incorporate the “equipotential space”: the organization of the house as a gameboard with no hierarchy or directionality, allowing multiple appropriations.
María Langarita and Víctor Navarro show us the ‘other’ life of the Farnsworth house, that of its first client and promoter of the project. These authors reflect on obsolescence as the coexistence of various lives: the life of the Mies’ house and that of the Farnsworth’s house, both coexisting thanks to the soft, organic, and mutable strategies of its first tenant.
For her part, Marina Otero problematizes automation, a world perhaps unknown to many and one that is not typically present in architectural reality. Using regions in the Netherlands and China as examples, the obsolescence of human tasks and spaces of production is questioned, leading us to think about new models of work and spaces for these activities.
After a bibliographic review of production by academics interested in open logics and an exploration of ecological strategies that have the potential to provide answers for the contemporary city, Jeannette Sordi studies four landscape projects developed throughout the last decade with the purpose of reflecting on the open project within urban design.
Pier Vittorio Aureli and Martino Tattara study the Limburg province, located within the Belgian region of Flanders, to show the obsolescent character in urban European suburbs. After an analysis of the reasons that led to the occupation of this territory and recent domestic transformations, they reimagine the dialogue between spaces of work and the domestic realm in these territories through a gradual proposal that allows for a vast array of possibilities.
These contributions invite us to expand our understanding on the inevitable obsolescence of the architectural and urban reality. How does the discipline respond to liquid modernity? What are the strategies deployed to face obsolescence of the contemporary world? The answers to these questions reveal how modernity has forced architects to explore new paths, among them, that of the open project.”