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The Typology of Tomorrow

Metropolis. Fritz Lang, Germany, 1927.

It’s naive to affirm that “the world is constantly changing.” What makes this affirmation ignoble is that with it, we redeem ourselves to the feeling of the future that resides within itself, and for that we convert ourselves into more suppressed beings, turning our back to all that is absurd (going against the current that has always been an enriching detour from the history of architecture) and to the hand of a certain democratic relativism of architectural and social models relating to life and housing.

Between the speculative euphoria that guides our decade and the recent scene of crisis in architecture that has been felt throughout all of Europe, all of a sudden, we act as slaves that want to associate themselves with the “Star System” at all costs,  overwhelmed with regulations that control everything but the crisis of social values and speculative capitalism. On the other hand, we sometimes ignore the anguish that time provokes in us. This means that in a less figurative sense, we end up as amnesiacs when it comes to the legend of these thousands of years of architectural history and city history, and that we are doing little to safeguard it’s normal course – from the paradigmatic changes in use, to the obtuse anthropological questions regarding standard spaces and the architectonic policy, as well are urban politics without architects, which we grab on to vehemently.

It is evident that we are facing a major moment of mutation, and that in the future buildings will need to be different. At the root of the changing climate, of new cultural and religious habits, of new security necessities and common defense, of new technologies, of the changes in mobility, of changing community habits and of living situations, we are before the glimmer of new housing, new equipment, and new urban landscapes.

The intrinsic relationship between the use (program) and building (form) is the origin of the constitution of a typology. Progressive architecture will be in knowing how to act with respect towards recognizing the typology of the future in three axes – those which end, those which adapt themselves, and those which begin.

Submerging oneself in obsolete typology – those which do not serve us – will mean that we are before those that are necessarily destined to ruins (when their inactivity makes way for the abandonment of that which is already built) or to sacralization (when their existence is based on the pertinence of leaving a present memory of a program that stopped making sense). What should be done with gas stations, glorified by our cities, the day that petroleum stops existing and that the vehicles in which we transport ourselves can circulate auto-sufficiently?

On the same line of reflection, we can refer to buildings that missionaries of a principally formal characteristic, alter their original typology and take on a new program – as will be the case of many churches that have transformed from being a place of worship to serving the tertiary sector, just as is already being observed in some northern European countries.

The typologies emerge in a second dimension when they are tangent to the mutation. These are considered those that are intrinsically related to human necessity – man will continue needing a house, even if this need stops being as we know it today. What is the way to redesign and design collective housing and individual familiar units in a day and age when we can customize the time of human habits in relation to the proposal of the formalization of space?

Finally, new typologies that will emerge continuously and more exponentially are being talked about. It wasn’t a long time ago that the first modern museum arose (17th century); and that the concept of a “shopping mall” as a building typology and characteristic of the suburbs proliferated (at the end of the 20th century); and that in an even more recent plan, we attend the dissemination of crematoriums throughout all of Europe (beginnings of the 21st century).

The necessity to be attentive to alterations and to the emergence of these new typologies will supply us with tools of reflection regarding the buildings that will give form to new cities, allowing an architect the possibility to mold the future based on his or her anticipation.

Text translated by Kaitlyn P. Delaney
Fundadora do atelier Andreia Garcia Architectural Affairs, tem-se especializado na disseminação da arquitetura através da prática curatorial. Doutorada pela FAUL, recebeu o Prémio Professor Manuel Tainha. É cofundadora da Galeria de Arquitectura.

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