8 luglio 2013

architecture and landscape

architettura e paesaggio

Can I lead you on the shores of a mountain lake? The sky is blue, water is green and all is deep peace. The mountains and the clouds reflects themselves in the lake, as well as the houses, the courtyards and the chapels. They seem to be there as if they had not been created by the hand of the man. Like they were outputs from the workshop of God, as the mountains and the trees, the clouds and the blue sky. And everything breathes peace and beauty...
But what is there? A false note creeps in this peace. As a useless screeching. Between the peasants' houses, which were made not by them, but by God, there is a villa. The work of a good or a bad architect? I do not know. I only know that peace, quiet and beauty are already gone.
[...] And then I wonder: why all architects, good or bad, they end up spoiling the lake?
[...] The architect, like almost every inhabitant of the city, has no civilization. He lacks the security of the farmer, who has instead its civilization. The inhabitant of the city is a rootless.
(Adolf Loos, Architecture, 1910 from Words in vacuum)

I think that Josep Pla is right when he says that human intervention is what excites him more of a landscape; a vegetable garden well evened out, with a containing wall and a water canal system touches us definitely much more than  the Grand Canyon of the Colorado. He says that the Grand Canyon scares  him, but doesn’t excites him. An architect has the obligation not to appreciate too much nature as it is, because otherwise what’s the point of our profession? When I see some glimpse of unspoiled nature, the first thing that comes to my mind is what I could do to make it more welcoming or more beautiful. 

Probably in this remote dialogue between two architects of different centuries, we can find one of the most important dilemmas of our profession, especially now that it seems to return strongly a new sensitivity towards nature and landscape.
The importance of the relationship between architecture and landscape, especially the ability of buildings to integrate themselves with the natural environment that  hosts them, is one of the things that strike and  interest me more in recent times.
About the landscape, I think there is nothing more suitable of the train to admiring and appreciating it and the ticket is valid, as well as for transportation, even for a beautiful spectacle that is constantly changing with the light and the perspective. I do not think it's a coincidence the rediscovery of this ancient form of transportation almost all over the world, especially in those sections remained off the beaten track.

A few summers ago traveling in Sweden, a country not very urbanized and with a rather "intrusive" landscape, I came to conclusions strikingly similar to those of Tusquets, basically not so distant even from those of Loos, because I realized that often some buildings, although apparently with no particular character and beauty, make undoubtedly the landscape more beautiful than before.

From that moment I realized that the secret of the architecture, the good one, it's all in his ability to fit into the landscape, which is the natural or that of the city, finding the scale, the shape, the lines and the colors that suit the context.
Actually it is a thought classical, as old as the world, which should be achieved for everyone, but it would seem instead that contemporary architecture already since some years and in many of its expressions is going in the opposite direction.