Going through my old books, I came across one in particular that I have not seen in a while: the beautiful “Inventory” by Mario Benedetti. While reviewing its pages, I remembered that this master of poetry was once called by many el arquitecto de la palabra (the architect of the words), then, an idea echoed in my mind to the point that I stopped thinking about anything else: the relationship between poetry and architecture.

Yes, I know that I am not the first one to write about such a blurred topic, and I probably won´t be the last; Aristotle, using the concepts of mimesis (imitation) and poiesis (creative process) addressed this issue thousands of years ago, but what surprised me was that, even though I am an architect in love with poetry, I never thought to write about this relationship before.

The first thing that pops up in my memory is a name: Joseph Muntañola and his “Architecture and Poetry”, he said: “Imitation of action is not another action but a fable, which gives cohesion to the characters that act”… “The architect is the poet of forms, because he/she knows how to “build them” (“frame them”) poetically, by stringing the elements (characters) within a whole, myth or fable.” By this he meant that by mimicking forms we do not copy them but fable them, that is, turn them into poetry.

He also referred to three terms that were easily located both in poetry and in architecture: poetics, rhetoric and semiotics, of which he said: “The poetics define the terms under which the aesthetic meaning is produced, rhetoric offers us the arguments with which architecture becomes credible and persuade, semiotics, finally, shows us the structure of the built, that is, the way that architecture has taken in different cultures as mimesis between building, inhabiting and thinking.”

I could begin to list authors who have raised this issue, but I start to ramble and my internet browser keeps giving me options. Then I feel that my head is so full of ideas thought by others, that it begins to be little room in it for my own.

So, with the words echoing in my head… poetry… architecture… I shift to my word processor trying to figure out what that relationship means to me.

I remember that, in spite of thinkers like Joseph Muntañola, who was able to find many common areas between poetry and architecture, many people restrict this relationship to the aesthetic area; they speak of the poetics of a building when referring to the aesthetics of it.

To me, labeling a building as poetic just because someone calls it beautiful is like looking at an entire city through a magnifying glass. There are many more elements that can separate a simple construction of a poetic building, but the most important thing that a poetic building should have is a soul, an essence, which can be felt by any person who visit a building that has it, and for whose creation there is no formula or recipe.

A poetic building is the one capable of producing emotions that we did not know we had inside us; capable of making us vibrate as we pass through its halls; capable of making us fall in love with their spaces as the most passionate lover would do.

We can find poetry in a small house by a lake or in a large residence in the city, in a large office tower or in an old abandoned factory.

Perhaps its existence depends on the state of mind we had when we were designing,

perhaps on the place where the building is located,

perhaps on both and more. The point is that if we focus only in the image of it, we will not be able to discover the magic that hides behind its walls.

When we design, we create a story, or at least the beginning of a story. Through our work, we laid the groundwork for future inhabitants to add characters and plot and take ownership of it. To the extent that we move forward in this adventure, more possibilities of being poetic will have our work.

It all depends on how far we are able to take our story…

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