Towards a Digital Transition
In 1884 Karl Marx developed his theory of alienation, establishing four different types: alienation from nature, alienation from other people, alienation from our work and alienation from ourselves. Those four kinds of alienation are extraordinarily relevant in our present situation. They also closely relate to the uncertain future now facing us, a future determined by the numerous ecological, health, social and political crises afflicting our planet.
“We live in a world that’s in a constant state of mutation”. That was the opening sentence in Turning Point. Radical Stances for a Changing World, an article devoted to the central theme of the VII edition of the Arquia Próxima awards. When we launched that competition last year, we couldn’t imagine the changes we’d be facing just a few months later. The COVID-19 pandemic has marked a turning point both for architects and for society in general, inviting reflection and radically redefining the way we interrelate with each other, with our work, and with the world around us.
Domestic space has been a key theme among the 24 finalists in this edition of the awards, with more than half of the works presented being residential projects. The pandemic has made us observe, analyse and appreciate domestic space, and realise how important it is to live in quality dwellings capable of adapting to the changing circumstances in our lives: spaces where the boundaries between the public and private domains, between personal and work environments, have become even more blurred. Kitchens, living rooms and bedrooms have become settings where we carry out all our daily activities, do sport, attend work meetings, or socialise with family and friends virtually, by internet. Virtual platforms have allowed new forms of interaction, generating alternative micro- and macro-policies which are once again redefining the meaning, and the limits, of our homes.
And just as fast as virtual communications platforms have progressed over the last few months, there’s also been a boom in new formats of cultural dissemination. Such new opportunities have inevitably revitalised debate forums, making them more accessible, more democratic, and more sustainable. We believe the next Arquia Próxima festival should faithfully reflect the changes we’re experiencing and do justice to the theme of this Turning Point edition. We’re therefore creating a virtual platform that will offer a global space for debate, accessible from any home or office in any part of the world. The transition from a physical to a virtual format will allow selected works to be presented in both the Arquia/Próxima and Arquia/Grants programmes. It will also reduce the festival’s carbon footprint and environmental impact, avoiding dozens of journeys by participants and attendees.
This first virtual festival will be inspired by the city of Barcelona, a metropolis of countless architectural contrasts, and hosted on a virtual platform created by London-based architecture firm Space Popular, run by Spaniard Lara Lesmes and Fredrik Hellberg. The programme will include debates, conversations, and presentations by the selected architects and studios and by guests like Anupama Kundoo, Carme Pinós and Sir Peter Cook. Javier Peña will also host a series of films and interviews offering a more in-depth look at Barcelona’s most radical architecture. We look forward, then to seeing you on 21 and 22 October at the Arquia virtual festival, where you will also have the opportunity to meet this edition’s prize-winners in a special virtual introduction ceremony.
Gonzalo Herrero, July 2020