Researching about Domestic Architecture, changing Housing from a Noun into a Verb.

by Carlos Pedro Sant'Ana
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NEW EXPRESSION On Housing 2 Following the research started on our first issue, On Housing 2 focus on the limits of domestic architecture, where we publish experiments and prototypes by artists and architects, working on subjects like Open Source, Flexible Systems, Shared Logics and others.

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All animals have a strong exploratory urge, but for some it is more crucial than others. It depends on how specialized they have become during the course of evolution. If they have put all their effort into the perfection of one survival trick, they do not bother so much with the general complexities of the world around them. So long as the ant eater has its ants and the koala bear is gum leaves, then they are satisfied and the living is easy. The non-specialists, however, the opportunists of the animal world, can never afford to relax. They are never sure where their next meal is coming from, and they have to know every nook and cranny, test every possibility and keep a sharp lookout for the lucky chance. They must explore and keep on exploring. They must investigate and keep on rechecking. They must have a constant high level of curiosity.”

The Naked Ape, Desmond Morris

 In 1969, Warren Chalk from Archigram wrote an article with the title “Owing to lack of interest, tomorrow has been cancelled”, a suggestive and provoking heading, contextualizing their ideas with Desmond Morris citation. Together with Peter Cook, Ron Herron, Dennis Crompton, Michael Webb and David Greene he had formed a group of innovative and creative architectural thought, searching for non conventional solutions to social and urban problematic, questioning the role of the architect and of the city planner in the contemporary society and pondering on the incoherence and vicissitudes of the time. A professional life made with more questions than answers, marking a new position of thought and reflection on the city and architecture.

More than forty years passed over this article and we can say with some certainty that everything changed but remaining too much the same. Although the problems and conditionings are different, with the planet suffering alterations radically fast, the differences between the global and the local are defined as the result of our space-time positioning relative to the city, to the society and to the architecture. 

Architects have become specialists and simultaneously obsolets when renounced from their functions of critical thinkers. Between Climate Change and Economical Crisis, society is facing a great dilemma: should we be conservative and blindly follow political, social and economical protocols as we did so far, or should we move on and start acting creatively, searching for new game rules that allow for a different set of guidelines? 

Our ideas need to change faster than society and specially faster than technology in order to antecipate scenarios, to design the future, to make questions, to provide answers and with all this, to regain our role on the development of ideas, of concepts, of opportunities to create out-of-the-box solutions and generate new ideas with potencial to become archetypes. Open Source, Flexible Systems, Shared Logics, Parametric Strategies, Architectural Mobility, Material Lightness, and many other un-Architectural concepts must be included and translated into the profession as quickly as possible so that we can continue to be fundamerntal pieces in the design and construction of the future world.

We have to re-manage concepts, to re-contextualize ideas and to re-build our working ground into a positive approach to architecture, when ideas and actions become more important than words.

It is time to become opportunists and to re-establish definitions. The selection of projects presented in this second part of our research on houses is just that. A re-focus from Housing as a Noun into a Verb, from Subject to Action. For us, Housing is now the specific act of creating new environments to live with and to live in. 

Things are moving too fast and a reclaim of our professional potential is necessary: work with the present to design the future. For that we need radical changes, extreme approaches and we have to learn from everyone else. Quoting a famous phrase of Pancho Guedes, “I claim for architects the rights and liberties that painters and poets have held for so long.”