Turning Point. Radical Stances for a Changing World
We live in a world that’s in a constant state of mutation. Whether through political conflict, social inequalities or ecological disasters, the planet and humanity itself are continuously changing and moving closer and closer to total collapse. Our world is globalised and interconnected, both digitally and physically, and the day-to-day acts we perform in our immediate environment have a dramatic impact in other parts of the world, a “butterfly effect” where small changes can have unforeseen consequences in different places and at different times. Our daily behaviour not only affects the people and things around us but also has an indirect impact in other countries and environments.
In February this year, The Guardian published a series of articles which examined the environmental impact of cement, the principal material employed in construction. Cement is the second most consumed material in the world after water, and the cause of 8% of global CO2 emissions. Considering that the construction sector accounts for 23% of air pollution, 40% of potable water contamination and 50% of dumped waste, the situation is critical. We are now at a moment of extreme urgency in which natural resources are inexorably dwindling, and we need to consider and put into perspective architecture’s impact both on society and on our planet: a planet where we need to create habitats for a world population that will increase by 25% over the next 30 years. But how are architecture and architects addressing these problems at local and global level?
The 1960s and 1970s were turbulent decades of political chaos and social unrest. From the building of the Berlin Wall to the antinuclear movement, the protests against the Vietnam War and the student riots of May ’68, this was a pivotal period in our recent history. Injustices were openly talked about and radical philosophies emerged which questioned the status quo and the conventions and practices governing different spheres of life, including architecture. We are now in an equally critical period, directly comparable to the 60s and 70s but with 50 years less to find solutions.
It’s time for us to acquire a holistic understanding of architecture’s impact and to come up with bold, radically innovative designs capable of changing the way we interact with our environment. We need to work on a collaborative basis, treating the architect’s work as part of a complex network – like our planet itself – with a continuous flow of knowledge and action, defining new action formats to renegotiate human relationships both with other humans and with our environment. We need to understand how we ourselves interrelate before we can learn how to cultivate a more empathic relationship with other species and with our environment.
It’s no longer sufficient merely to act correctly. We can’t go on acting the same way. We need to generate a turning point, to introduce changes in the way we think, in our agenda and in our practice, to raise awareness and show society how architecture can transform and repair our environments. We need to develop projects and strategies that will allow us radically to transform our impact on the planet and restore our relationship with our social, political and environmental milieu.
Arquia’s Próxima competition has as its objective to seek out bold strategies, reflections and works which question the status quo, challenge pre-conceived ideas and offer solutions that will allow radical change in contemporary architectural practice. The projects chosen will act as a kind of time capsule, an image of the agenda guiding today’s architects that will summarise how they are using critical, innovative formats to address social, political, economic and environmental change. The competition is an opportunity collectively to explore and discuss issues that are crucial for our society and our planet, and to highlight bold, innovative responses to local and international changes, thereby forging a new, radical approach to architecture.
The competition rules can be consulted HERE.