The management of the unpredictable thing | Miguel Ángel Díaz Camacho

Revolution Montreal. Bikes and Lesbian Haircuts | Photo: Meera Margaret Singh

In occasions we have argued on the “program” as a compromising element of the project of architecture. The architects we have presumed to know, even better than the own users, that one that they precisely need, doing of the “reintepretation” of the program one of our more valuable contributions to the order. Nevertheless, the time us is in the habit of snatching the reason and the use that habitually we link to a space often is overcome somehow by the tides of the life. There will not spread out on every project multiple configurations of use generated before the diversity and the changeable needs of the own users? Might it then project the unpredictable thing? Let’s see.

Undoubtedly, one of the qualities fenomenológicas of the current environment is his unpredictable character. A few days ago a polar cold spell without precedents was paralyzing The United States up to the point from which some prisoners, happily escaped, were returning voluntarily to his cells of punishment: the nature still guards secrets that the freedom does not know. Any analysis that we realize on the current world will end up by throwing a dense fog on the future, and maybe this one is a present constant in every moment of the history of the human being: ‘ While the history flows, it is not a history for us. It takes us towards an unknown country, and rarely we can achieve a sparkle of what we have ahead1.

Sin duda, una de las cualidades fenomenológicas del entorno actual es su carácter impredecible. Hace pocos días una ola de frío polar sin precedentes paralizaba Estados Unidos hasta el punto de que algunos presos, felizmente fugados, regresaban voluntariamente a sus celdas de castigo: la naturaleza aún guarda secretos que la libertad desconoce. Cualquier análisis que realicemos sobre el mundo actual acabará arrojando una densa niebla sobre el futuro, y tal vez ésta sea una constante presente en cada momento de la historia del ser humano: ‘Mientras la historia fluye, no es historia para nosotros. Nos lleva hacia un país desconocido, y rara vez podemos lograr un destello de lo que tenemos delante’1. A look towards the past teaches us that the history constructs itself as an uninterrupted sequence of surprises, a roller coaster that takes us from the admiration to the astonishment before to pass ordinarily of her sew. Nevertheless, the management of the unpredictable thing can constitute not only a valuable tool in the architectural project, but an indispensable reference to the construction of the city adhocrática2.

Kazuhiro Kojima counts how the Government of China proposed him the idea of projecting an office block for the Olympics of Beijing (2008) whose later use was defined like unpredictable3. This situation accepted for the sports global ceremonies and universal different exhibitions, can be extrapolated to the set of the architectural production. The case of the housing turns out to be paradigmatic, the fact of living squeezes the most recondite variables of the unpredictable thing: growth or familiar disintegration, rejuvenation or aging, permanency or itinerancia, fortune or bankruptcy4. The use that we do of the architecture always is unpredictable. Even more the public building financed with the common heritage, which must answer with the maximum efficiency and responsibility before his uncertain destination tied of an indissoluble way to the dynamics of the change: the one who was going to say to Don Antonio Palacios that his “Palace of Communications of Madrid” (1919) was going to remain obsolete before the decline of the use of the postal mail? The one who was going to think then that a mayor, with a “clear enough” idea of what means the representation of the Power, was going to install there the headquarters of the Town hall of Madrid?

Alejandro de la Sota was possessing irony how his project for the Provincial Museum of León was establishing itself on the former building of the Bishopric, which had changed to the investor historical building of Post office when these changed in turn to his acquaintance “container” of sheet color León5. Since in an exercise of authentic trilero, the programs were changing glass before Don Alejandro’s crafty look: the architecture like a wild dance in which the only rule (not written) will be the pleasant one, for random, exchange of pairs. The idea comes from distant view and the very same Frank Lloyd Wright in 1939 dared to define as immutable this exciting “mixed up” condition of the architecture:

“The law of the change is an immutable law and is the only law that we have not born in mind. We have tried to detain and contain the tides of the life. […] In the moment in which we have any established or sentimental interest, we believe that we must protect it, to take care of it, to defend it from the enemies, retaining it intact. Our thought, our philosophy, everything what we have, is summarized in ‘having and guarding’. I am sure that they would surprise to see the effective thing that would be to invest the process” 6.

Miguel Ángel Díaz Camacho. Doctor Architect

Madrid. january 2014

1 Friedrich A. Hayek, ‘Camino de servidumbre’, Alianza Editorial, Madrid, 2010.
2 To see “Adhocracia” in the Opened Glossary. The analysis stays for a second post on the management of the unpredictable thing in the public space, transcendental question approached by Anatxu Zabalbeascoa in the article “La calle en venta” (December 20, 2013)
3 Kazuhiro Kojima, “Nexus. Dirección fluida”, Revista 2G, nº43.
4 We remember here Cedric Price’s anecdote in the one that, after long meetings with a client to project a housing for him and his family, and after knowing thoroughly his dynamics and vital situation, after long months of parenthesis for the reflection met again his client and, for his surprise, instead of finding a project of architecture, Price recommended to him openly the divorce: the best “program” that it could find in this case.
5 Alejandro de la Sota, Pronaos, Madrid, 1989.
6 Frank Lloyd Wright, The second party of the conferences in London, 1939, included in Frank Lloyd Wright, ‘ The future of the architecture ‘, Poseidon, Barcelona, 2008.

Miguel Ángel Díaz Camacho

Doctor en Arquitectura, Decano de la Facultad de Tecnología y Ciencia UCJC. Presidente de la Asociación Sostenibilidad y Arquitectura,  perteneciente al Consejo Superior de los Colegios de Arquitectos de España. Director de MADC Arquitectos, estudio profesional con premios en concursos nacionales e internacionales, en la actualidad desarrolla proyectos en España y Noruega. Escritor y crítico de arquitectura, es autor de los libros “Párrafos de Arquitectura. Core(oh)grafías” (2016) y “Arquitectura y Cambio Climático” (2018).

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