This volume explores architecture and work committed to fostering cultures.
How to return to a cultural dimension where dialogue and differences regain that core value of mutual growth, which has proven, time and again, throughout history, to be a natural antidote against intolerance and totalitarianism?
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Today it seems that everything must be defined exclusively in economic terms, but what value does culture have?
In so-called “Western” countries, little or none. Continuous and repeated cuts in education – at every level – have contributed to creating not one, but several generations who fail to receive an education worthy of the name; this is fertile ground for an administrative and political army whose morale is on a par with that of the conquistadores. The tendency to view the world, and its expressions, solely from a “revenue” – or debt – point of view, is not only destroying tens of thousands of years of culture, but is threatening us and the planet.
The challenge is to promote the process of circulation, development and protection of cultures: all cultures, in their diversity, individuality and complexity are a well-structured, fragile heritage that can significantly contribute to visualising and pursuing a model of society that is freer and genuinely more democratic than the current one.
Architecture plays a key role in determining cultural landscapes. Architecture shapes – from the vernacular to international and modern style, from -isms to the latest avant-garde – the places assigned to development and research, as well as the most ordinary places in everyday life, such as housing, roads, squares and places for meeting and entertainment, or shopping centres and offices. It is precisely in these ordinary places, the most popular and frequented by the vast majority of the population, that culture needs to be defended the most; it is the everyday places, where 99% of the population live, that are the most fragile.
The environment which has been built around us can support the development and preservation of cultures, or it can reject, demean and degrade them. This is the case with a large number of buildings built with very little planning care or using shoddy, and sometimes polluting materials.
It is not easy to get rid of bad architecture; planting a few trees to cover up its social and cultural effects is not enough. The problem has to be dealt with in-depth, primarily, by identifying the features and causes.
Nowadays, a vast number of places bear the embryos of a new, experimental, innovative, inclusive and collaborative architectural culture that manages to overcome cultural, political, economic and social boundaries, subsequently renewing the affirmation of inviolable human rights such as dignity, equality, freedom and the aspiration to peace. Many of the people behind these projects are young, sometimes very young, and this is no coincidence. What would a world be like where these young people are, maybe not helped, but at least not hindered to the point that sometimes they give up their social commitment in favour of choices dictated by need?
Article 3 of the Italian Constitution states the principle that economic and social obstacles that restrict the freedom and equality of citizens, preventing them from maximum achievement, must be removed.
Utopia? Nowadays, quite a few people believe it is feasible, and they are not just dreamers. Perhaps we just need to get to know them better.
With projects and texts by:
Ateliermob + Colectivo Warehouse, Marco Casagrande, Barbara Cole, Colectivo Arquitectura Expandida, Kéré Architecture, Folke Köbberling & Martin Kaltwasser, Marta Maccaglia & Paulo Afonso, Rozana Montiel, Orkidstudio, The Oslo School of Architecture, Recetas Urbanas, Robust Architecture Workshop, The Scarcity and Creativity Studio, Taller Espacios Abiertos + Bruno Sève, Riccardo Vannucci_FAREstudio
Boundaries is a quarterly magazine on sustainable, socially engaged and humanitarian architecture. Each issue is monographic, with full texts in English and Italian (facing), and all articles are accompanied by notes and a bibliography for further reading. ISSN 2239-0332.