I start by returning to Vitruvius and to the attributes he saw as being necessary in order to define an object as architecture: firmitas, venustas, and utilitas. Contemplating on the subject of this issue, it is interesting to take a closer look at the signification of these attributes and the relations to which they point. We observe that the first is a physical, objective one – the house must «stand». The other two relate to beauty, as it is being appreciated by the human viewer, and to function, to the way the house responds to certain human needs.
At present, architecture goes through a period of uncertainties (or rather, as Blaga used to say, the feeling of uncertainty is a permanent one and the accentuation of a situation / identity supposes the exit from frame wherein it takes place, and is therefore possible only post-factum). Already looking at the history of the past years we can make a few connections that could help us become aware of a situation. Architecture competitions become prospective undertakings, they no longer reveal «correct» projects, projects that satisfy the Vitruvian triad, but projects that bring problems into discussion, that launch new challenges and which are not based strictly on solving the object but rather on the integrated functioning of a system. Recent events that deal with architecture try to rediscuss the attributes / principles / goals of architecture. I will only concentrate on one event that is worth considering in relation to the three attributes mentioned above: the 2011 UIA Congress from Tokyo. The theme, Design 2050, proposed three sub-themes: environment, life, and culture, each one being detailed in its turned (global environment, sustainability, natural disasters, water, agriculture, population, aging, artificial life, biodiversity, information, economy, etc.). The event tries to some extent to reconsider the profession of architect and does this by also bringing the non-human factor into discussion among others: global environment, artificial life or biodiversity, etc…
In order to understand these aspects we must only seek for their «manifestations». We can associate biodiversity and the global environment on the one hand, and landscape on the other. The landscape tends to be perceived as an industrial object that can be managed, guided, and subjected to control. This perception comes after, for hundreds of years, the agriculture, infrastructure, etc. have shaped and changed the face of Europe. The current moment is one that belongs to paradox: while magazines feature articles carrying titles such as «Planning the Delta» (Scape, 2/2007), we are trying by means of various improvements to satisfy ourselves a biophilic need that’s deeply rooted in our cultural heritage, that is to create something spectacular carrying an image as natural as possible. Humanity now holds the means to operate on a large scale, as the impact of the actions is a proportional one, with architecture, understood in a broader sense, being one of the drivers of these changes.
The rest of the article can be found in issue no 6/2011 of Arhitext.