Tuesday, April 4, 2017

#6 reorientation

Keywords: points of departure / consolidation / transcendence
Literature: I would prefer not to, Iñaki Ábalos
Lectures: Marianne Lucie Skuncke, Nothing is for ever / everything is
   Tone Megrunn Berge, A sunny day at Fredriksberg

Reorientation is the act of figuring out again where you are in relationship to your environment, or changing direction. If you're lost in the woods, a compass and map are good for reorientation.
Reorientation is often related to location: figuring out where you are and pointing yourself in the right direction. (…) But reorientation is also about rethinking, and maybe changing, the way you approach something, like an idea or a project (Vocabulary.com Dictionary)

Reorientation is a new start or an opportunity to make things different – make it better based on new or deeper understanding and knowledge, or because new situations or changes require other solutions. It is also a moment of consolidation and a recognition that everything is in continuous transition to something else. The moment of presence is so ephemeral that in reality planning always deals with temporality, transformation and continuation, more than conclusion and culmination. This means that everything we do is time fragments with limited durability.

This is an attitude towards architecture that is liberating, and stimulates to see architecture as means to accomplish what is desirable. This requires not only knowledge and professional ability, but more important; a standard that does not compromise to achieve goals beyond architecture. Under the assignment of vulnerability, Herman Melville’s scrivener Bartleby was introduced as a personality opposing the expected. I would prefer not to was Bartleby’s unlikely answer when asked to perform a certain job for his employer at the office where he worked, on Wall street. Bartleby challenged the authority of his employer and balanced his right to choose his tasks and make his own judgments about the relevance and importance of the given tasks – to great indignation from his employer, but; [a]s days passed on, I [the employer] became considerably reconciled to Bartleby. His steadiness, his freedom from all dissipation, his incessant industry (..), his great stillness, his unalterableness of demeanor under all circumstances, made him a valuable acquisition. One prime thing was this,—he was always there;—first in the morning, continually through the day, and the last at night. I had a singular confidence in his honesty (Melville 1858).

Bartleby’s stubbornness is a reminder that we need to develop a critical consciousness about why we do architecture, for whom we work, on what basis we work, and certainly for the impact of our work. In this studio, Layered Landscapes Lofoten, we have studied the landscape from many angles and through a wide spectre of concepts. We have walked the landscape and encountered different practices enfolding in the landscape. We have dug into the historical shifts and natural conditions for the habitation of Lofoten, and we have confronted new challenges and forces that are at stake, both from within and from outside.

It is now time to analyze the experiences we have had and the awareness achieved, and to use our deepest knowledge with the humbleness, respect and critical distance we have learnt. We must approach with the openness that is described by Richard Sennett as a bottom up view giving places that belong to the people. He is stating the contrast between the closed (city) as; over-determined, balanced, integrated, linear - and the open (city) as; incomplete, errant, conflictual, non-linear, and he is clear on what we need to do; to challenge unthinking assumptions now made about urban life, assumptions which favor closure. (Sennett 2013: 14). It is a point of departure that requires less re-assuring, more febrile ideas of living together, those stimulations of differences, both visual and social, which produce openness (IBID).

Herman Melville, Bartleby, the Scrivener, 1853.
Richard Sennett, The Open City, talk at the Univerità degli Studio Milano-Biocca, 2013

Tudela Culip restoration project in Cap de Creus

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