The challenge of the significance | Miquel Lacasta

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This suggestive title Joaquim Español gives it in the chapter 13 of Forma y consistencia.1 The book thinks brings over of a double distortion. On the one hand in many contemporary architectures still late the old phrase of Mies Van der Rohe we reject to recognize problems of form. That is to say, the architecture must be understood like it exempts of form while only it must answer to a moral condition that comes legitimized by the constructive logic, perhaps with certain instrumentalización compositiva. This positioning that transforms the idea of form, and subsidiarily the idea of geometry, into pure architectural instrumentalidad, can reseguirse in current projects, which reject the reflection on the form and his immediate relation of consistency with the geometry, as if it was possible to do architecture with a non-form

Another distortion, evidently more showy and popular, has been the formalization of so many people and so many projects of last decades, excessive forms lacking in reasoning and sense, but worse still, lacking in the most minimal intelligence in the use of the form. Ways of using and throwing, without the minimal respect for the content that the significance could bring to the memory. Untied forms, riddled with intentional stutters that end up by turning the idea of form into something dirty and puerile. Seeing some of these finished projects, the sensation gives that rather the form has been forced up to the satiety as if about a sexual slave it was treating itself. It is not necessary to say any more.

Both by default and by excess, the result is the disparagement of all the significant load that contains any form, including the forms of amnesia or the forms of the phase shift.

In architecture, everything is form.

The reflection to which Spanish tries to give form2, is explicit in the question thrown to the air, that as an introduction to the book, is printed on the back cover,

Are architects allowed to forget about responsibilities versus form?

The form as a result is the product of a condition of consistency, as the author says.

The consistency, the cohesion between particles of a mass, can be understood as the interlocking of the elements of a set that gives it the attribute of stability. The connection implies relationship. The consistency of a form is given when there are perceivable relationships in it. Then we can say that it has internal structure.

Only by this initial reflection, the non-form in architecture is impossible.

If there is something consubstantial to the architecture, this is its form and its capacity to build a meaningful body. That is to say, every form, primary or complex, that the architecture can adopt involves a relationship between the physical structure and a significant structure. When we despise the vulgarity of the forms of the suburban paired houses that populate our territory, we are criticizing the lack of consistency between the physical formal reality and its lack of significance. We are lamenting the lost opportunity to not have proposed a significant body of value, which integrated into the geometry of the form, would be providing a possible reading of the fact of living in the periphery, or the way an object is able to establish an explicit dialogue in relation to the landscape that surrounds it, to give some examples.

That is why formal rejoicing by itself is equally as absurd as meaningful muteness. The indolence as some architectures are loaded with empty meanings, dissonant, extremes in their absurd spectacularization, by contrast with the previous example, we could say that shrill by definition, causes the same reaction of disappointment and criticism.

The focus of the discussion proposed by Español is precisely what this article calls the challenge of meaning, the enriched journey between physical form and its possible meanings, in short, the discussion of the way in which the discussion about the relationship between reality and perception, between the physical and what metaphorically speaking we call the chemical, the empathic, the capacity for the narrative construction of a story.

In order not to be a servant of a language of forms, we must be experts in the metalanguage of forms.

The challenge, the challenge of all architecture, is to give consistency to a meaningful story, which in principle must be strongly linked to society and the time it serves. That is why in rare cases the significant burden of a project is valid when it refers to archetypes of the past, or hides behind styles imported from other latitudes or other times. The relevance of the significant load of an architecture must be judged by its capacity to relate to the territory and the individuals who inhabit it, understanding that it must interpret in the best possible way the individual and collective aspirations of a society in which architecture settle And all this, in addition, without losing the emotion of the presence that every architectural object induces. That is, without losing the intuitive, the visceral and the phenomenological.

The challenge of the significance of architecture is both objective and subjective, or rather, it is essentially intersubjective, relational, exaggerating, I would say that it is viral. Therefore, it is subject to systematization logics, and without being contradictory, to limit logics.

Josep Llinás said that architecture can be done from the system or architecture from the limit, I believe that being true the previous, architecture must be done from the system and from the limit at the same time. The systemic is essentially the codified, the previously structured and translated into a behavior of predictable signs. The border, many more suggestive, is the border, the space from which to advance, the position that allows to expand even more the field of the possible. Undoubtedly tipping between the systemic and the borderline is enormously complex and the overcoming of the structuralism proposed by Claude Lévi-Strauss, understood as an attempt to systematize the meanings, and therefore to erase the limits, testifies that the challenge of the significance of the Architecture is still on the table.

Miquel Lacasta. PhD architect
Barcelona, april 2013


ESPAÑOL, Joaquim, Form and consistency; The construction of the form in architecture,, Fundación Caja de Arquitectos, Barcelona 2007.

I apologize for not being able to resist the use of this cacophony.nía.

Es cofundador en ARCHIKUBIK y también en @kubik – espacio multidisciplinario. Obtuvo un Ph.D. con honores (cum laude) en ESARQ Universitat Internacional de Catalunya UIC y también fue galardonado con el premio especial Ph.D (UIC 2012), M.arch en ESARQ Universitat Internacional de Catalunya, y se graduó como arquitecto en ETSAB Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya . Miquel es profesor asociado en ESARQ desde 1996. Anteriormente, fue profesor en Elisava y Escola LAI, y también en programas de postgrado en ETSAB y La Salle. Fue arquitecto en la oficina de Manuel Brullet desde 1989 desde 1995.


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