It seems you are particularly interested in the relationship between architectural forms and the way they are materially produced. In your opinion what is the biggest consequence that recent shifts in modes of production have had on construction and the evolution of form? How do they manifest themselves in the Triennale?
The practice of architecture has always been about bridging culture with technical translation. In the last 50 years – and especially since the advent of digital culture – architecture has become just one field amongst a constellation of highly specialised players in the construction sector, to the point where the architect is even being regarded as surplus. In fact the architect is someone who deals with this wide range of specialists and who makes decisions about many crucial aspects: from the financial to the political to the technical. Out of all this though, the architect is only actually expected to “give form” to the project – whatever that means.
At this year’s Lisbon Triennale we are interested in discussing the predominance of form as a cultural and technical attribute, understanding form as a device for synthesis and not as a specialised discipline. The three main exhibitions of the Triennale, The Form of Form, The Building Site and The World in Our Eyes, will establish a triangular relationship that will relate the authorial side of architecture (that is, where architects are effecting synthesis) with its more technical side and then also with the wider representation of cities.
Our profession needs to reclaim its authority as an open activity that has use for the cultural, social and technical ambitions of society. This Triennale is an attempt to reconstruct the idea that architecture can have a predominant role in the organisation of our society.
One of the main themes of The Form of Form exhibition is the permanence of form, over many eras and across different cultures; how does this deal with the effects of the evolution of society? How it is possible that form survives through the epochs?
The answer comes from the fact that we are still human. A sense of scale in relation to the human body – a material’s weight, the force of gravity – is still the same as it has been for millennia. Similarly, from a cultural perspective, many of us have been raised in societies that take a visually-led approach to architecture and form, whether we are architects or not. These are some of the reasons for the spatial and temporal affinities between cultures that are very distant from one another yet come out with similar forms, such as with Mayan and Egyptian temples, structures created by societies separated by 2,000 years.