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Just don’t ask me to work a computer. Unfortunately, computers have become an objective in themselves. I tell students that it’s not a good thing to work out a project from the PC, I prefer that they think with the pencil first, and then draw things out on the screen.
I try to learn something from everything: from all of the new points of reference as well. But sociology, physics, fluids etc applied to architecture - all of those diffuse inter-disciplinary exercises - make me feel a little uneasy and generate quite a lot of doubt. I cannot quite see the intermediary stages that generate the project through all of this. These are discussions that are of interest on an intellectual level, like a curiosity, but the feeling I have is that there is too big a jump between the origin and the results and that, therefore, they are just so much added value. I don’t know, they’re like additives, an essential business card in a world today so dominated by the media.
I believe that there are more sincere debates about serious research. If we were to think about all that a structured revision implies, we would need to revise how people live, how certain types of homes are organised in terms of functional new systems or materials, think about how a family might be affected… what is an airport for example? Or think about the train station you have built in Zaragoza* – what that really means, going beyond just a simple platform and converting it into an urban, public, social ‘mega centre’.
I think that this type of reflection -a consequence of the society, institutions or economy that we serve, of the times that we live in- plays an enormous tangible influence on our work.
I would say the same thing about materials. Today we have overcome or transgressed the concepts and uses of materials, which we might call traditional. It is obvious that as well as a building function, they also have, in many cases, a kind of media or symbolic function. We are perhaps suffering from too much ‘hot air’, which would imply a loss in consistency in the intensity and density of the answers. Just look at the number of superimposed signatures on buildings –it’s enormous! And the worst effects of this are produced in the schools of architecture.
It all has a lot to do with the consumer society: the society of the grand spectacle, where the most important thing is appearances, where ideologies and the fundamentals are being gradually replaced by image and price. Logically, architecture is influenced by all of this.
It seems to us to be an innovative attitude, but really it is a very conservative one. Producing one hundred thousand images –any kid can churn that out on Photoshop or 3D studio, but where’s the content? Talking of the concept of style, François Lyotard affirmed that “it is the megapolis’ reply to the anguish felt over the absence of the object”. Are we living in a society that consists only of style, representation and image? Talking of anguish, where has that object disappeared to? To be honest, I would prefer to discuss research and not speculation.
(*) Zaragoza AVE Train station, competition design by Carlos Ferrater, Félix Arranz, JM Valero, architects.
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