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PARTICIPATORY RESILIENCE ARCHITECTURE

Applying the concept of resilience - of metallurgical origin - to architecture is no longer new following the essay Toward Resilient Architecture by Mehaffy and Saligaros. However, as often happens with terms that take on an exotic character, there is an abuse of the metaphor they underlie. Likewise, the concept of participation and the practices that it would imply in designing has been and still is used and abused. Today, architecture should perhaps resist the rhetorical representations of certain concepts that claim to update it. Architecture, however, if the end is clear, has no need to represent itself with metaphors that justify its existence. The direct experience of two works on the borderlines between planning and participation wants to prove that participatory resilience architecture is not yet another rhetorical figure but one of the many answers that it can still give to the society of the ''endless means'' described by Agamben.

Keywords: public space, infrastructures, art, Librino, Senegal.

PARTICIPATORY RESILIENCE ARCHITECTURE

Sebastiano D’Urso

Department of Civil Engineering and Architecture (DICAr), University of Catania; Catania, Italy

 

 

Participatory Resilience Architecture

An Architecture of Participation is the essay by Giancarlo De Carlo that, almost 50 years ago, put into motion a new way of approaching design (De Carlo, 2013). The user was to participate in the whole design process. Only in this way was it believed that architecture could really be at the service of the community. However, De Carlo himself recognized the risks involved in what he called "a realistic utopia": participation lends itself to mystification and exploitation. Time has shown that De Carlo's reserves were well founded. He was the first to see how participation is a very difficult process to implement. The failure to implement the plan for the new center of Rimini as well as the partial success of Villaggio Matteotti in Terni are emblematic of how participation is a path full of pitfalls. Nevertheless, the fascination of participation has been present throughout the second half of the last century up to the present day. Today, in the age of the digital network, of increasingly fast and widespread connections and new mass media, the paradigm of participation seems to want to be renewed and open to the cybernetic user. Open Source Architecture (OSArc), in addition to being the umpteenth essay-manifesto that intends to revolutionize the way architecture is done, it records the current condition of a part of contemporary society. The remaining part of the society that does not have access to the internet or that does not have the know-how to contribute actively to the design remains excluded from the long-awaited "open design" (Ratti, 2014).

The information metaphor of OSArc attributes, to architecture, the task of being the software of the built reality, which is the hardware. Carlo Ratti himself, however, writes that this is not such an innovative theory, but rather it is only the actualization of the vernacular architecture conducted with IT tools. Is it therefore only a change of instruments and not a paradigm? The means change but the aim of architecture should remain the same: to be that art at the service of society. But the problem is perhaps to be found in the society that in general - as Giorgio Agamben and others have shown - has more and more means at its disposal but seems to have forgotten what they were to serve (Agamben, 2016). If we consider architecture an instrument, as for the rest of the instruments that man has, the problem is not of an architectural, or instrumental nature, but of purpose. Scholars and architects complain, not unjustly, of a growing disinterest in architecture. They ask themselves why this is happening. They look for the problem inside the instrument that for some turns out to be excessively specialized (elitist), for others it is inadequate to the times or inappropriate to the problems to be faced. A tool like any tool, whether it be manual analogical or digital, always depends on how you use it and especially why you use it. The same is true for architecture. Before using it, it is important to understand why, for what purpose. In the age of modernity, what seems to have been lost is precisely the purpose of architecture. Thus, it entailed periodic reinterpretations of the instrument: from participatory architecture to choral architecture, from bio-architecture to resilient architecture, and so on. While each of these attributes has only served to make the promoters of the new version of architecture famous, the latter has increasingly turned into a potential. However, it resists attributes and labels and when it is used as an instrument, it is very effective.

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Ultimo aggiornamento: 19/10/2018 10:11

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