“Evolution is the infinite movement of all that exists, the constant transformation of the universe and all its parts, from its eternal origins and during infinite time.” Eliseo Reclus.
As an architect, I find it almost impossible to read a sentence as beautiful as this one and not try to find its potential applications on architecture. In my attempt, I walk along the lines, dismember them, analyze each word independently, especially those that jump to the eye, shining down on her partners and sisters. So, I read: evolution; and continue: movement; still looking: infinite, transformation, eternal, time. These words stand out among the rest, beautify the lines and give them greatness.
Then, my head starts to fly. I dream of comparisons. In my mind, I walk through whole cities while looking for answers. Until I finally get it… Everything evolves, architecture evolves, art evolves, clothing evolves, trends evolve! Here is my answer.
(Side note: The word trend always makes me hesitant before putting it in writing. In this essay, I have decided to strip myself of my doubts and use it several occasions)
I start with a mental image of the world and its history; some sort of infographics on the evolution of human society. Through it, I notice the similarities between human beings and buildings; that is, between human beings and architecture. Something similar to the story that says dogs look like their owners, but applied to architecture.
I decide to go on a journey through time to prove my theory. I am surprised to discover, in each and every one of the human societies, from the Egyptians and their pyramids, the Greeks and the Agora, the Romans and the Aqueducts, to our current men and buildings, very obvious similarities. Then, I compare the two things that first appear in my memory: buildings and human clothing. I begin with the Egyptians, who wore robes with very linear designs, similar to their constructions; nothing more linear than a Pyramid.
Then the Greeks: they used loose and poetic garments; poetic as their buildings.
When analyzing the Romans, we can appreciate more hardness, both in their clothes and in their buildings. And I could go on forever.
Instead, I choose to jump ahead thousands of years and move forward to our time to analyze current society. I walk through the streets, enter the buildings, talk to the people. It is then when I realize that I am not surprised of finding a large amount of noisy buildings, that clash in our cities; buildings screaming instead of whispering, hitting instead of stroking.
This is simply a reflection of what is happening to us all. It is sort of a defense mechanism against our reality. Day by day, the world becomes more complicated and stressful. We have entered a period in time in which individualism controls us. We do not want to listen to others, much less understand or support. We are closing in on ourselves; confining ourselves in islands in an eternal quest for a place where we can disconnect from the chaos.
I stop then, in my little island to go in search of possible comparisons between clothing and architecture in our chaotic times. A strong image comes to mind (or two). I cannot stop thinking of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao and Lady Gaga. What better comparison than that? Both are a reflection of the individualism and chaos in which we are immersed. Both are main characters of their own story and neither of them is looking for accomplices; they do not need to. They themselves are a story full of characters and sub-stories.
This small revelation makes me understand that individualism has made us superficial, and we reflect this shallowness through the importance we place on the outside, on the shell, on the image. Hence the large number of buildings where the most important, what jumps to the eye (often even jump on us) is the facade, sometimes even leaving out the program, which is the life of a building. In this case, it does not matter if we decide to talk about clothes or buildings. The same applies to both. Most times, we do not see beyond the image, the facade, the clothes, perhaps because we do not strive to get into the depths, but in many cases, is for the simple fact that there are too many items in this shell catching our attention and keeping us there, trapped forever.
I continue in my search, and another possible comparison comes to my mind, also from our current time, but very different: the minimalist trend, which has invaded all genres, not just high fashion and architecture. Here, in contrast to what we see in the above comparison, we find a trend that seeks to go against chaos. One that focuses on the use of a few elements, guided by the Miesian precept “less is more”. In this case, the goal is clear: Simplify to survive.
It is then that I realize the obvious; when considering these comparisons, I understand that human beings are just trying to adapt. The trends, in this case through clothing and buildings, are telling the story of what is happening in the world. We are in an endless search for answers to the many questions that continues to send the universe and, in the meantime, we improvise as best as possible.
And there, in my own treasure hunt at the end of the rainbow, I find another phrase; and once again, I get answers:
“I must reassert that we have come to the point in biological history where we are now responsible for our own evolution. We have become self-evolvers. Evolution implies selecting and therefore, choosing and deciding, and this means valuing.” Abraham Maslow.
Our legacy, now, should be greater; we must leave a unique gift to future generations; a token of our capacity for self-evolvement.
Then I think: it is time to select, choose and decide, so we can start valuing.
As architects, we must think before acting and not just be a reflection of what humanity is living and feeling. When designing, we must make our ideas clear before putting them into writing. We must think about feelings and emotions, not only about images. We must not let chaos paralyze us; we must not stop; we must not hide ourselves in our empty islands. So, to summarize it in one sentence:
Let´s continue the infinite moving, during infinite time.
Image credits: egyptian clothing, egyptian construction, greek clothing, greek construction, roman clothing, roman construction, lady gaga 1, guggenheim 1, lady gaga 2, guggenheim 2, lady gaga 3, guggenheim 3, minimal architecture 1, minimal fashion 1, minimal architecture 2, minimal fashion 2.