E13. Strategic Projects for Waste Architectural Contemporaries

Academic, Articles

E13. Strategic Projects for Waste Architectural Contemporaries

Europan 13. Strategic Projects for Waste Architectural Contemporaries

Blanca Lleó

One of the most horrifying images I keep in my memory is the ghostly vision of the streets of Detroit. It’s been more than ten years , road came to this big city hoping to find modernity and progress . But what appeared before my eyes was the opposite : from the first moment I was overcome its alarming state of decay . Throughout endless streets you could see that more than half of its buildings were in ruins or abandoned and not a few had been burned and still smoking . In this atmosphere so degraded beings wandered lonely and ragged dragging their huge bodies of Negroes, as the city ‘s inhabitants survive seemed comatose. It was so unreal and so far from our idyllic imaginary modern North American city view, all these years I doubted if what I had dreamed or seen in some apocalyptic movie. Until this summer has jumped to the news media and have noted that my memories correspond to the terrible reality : the city of Detroit declares bankruptcy . From the dramatic announcement , have appeared in the press, on television and especially on the internet, a lot of stories and photographs of its nearly 80,000 abandoned buildings, their yards and streets overgrown with weeds , their vehicles and facilities converted into junk , illustrating the total collapse of this huge city cradle of the world automotive industry that not long ago was considered by its architecture Paris Midwestern .


Buildings such as cities and empires have an expiration date . All that is solid melts into air , announcing the industrial revolution. But their rigid structures fell last century gave way to the ethereal new technologies. And now, as noted philosopher Jose Luis Pardo pointing an idea of ​​Zygmunt Bauman , we find that ” the duration of human life has become the ultimate reference and as all other human things , because none of them has already guaranteed a higher permanence . Neither marriage nor businesses , nor the ministries and professions, neither governments nor families , nor buildings nor the tools , neither the churches nor dressed , neither banks nor the States have now why take more than lasts , on average, a human life , and more often than not , over those lives , mortals go see ( this ) erode and fall. ( … ) If the term industrial revolution with book and postindustrial with books , who will these non- recyclable ? Lives. ”


When it loses consistency we ask: how to re- think from the architectural concepts of continuity and permanence , duration, memory, even transcendence ?


Moreover we face a pressing dilemma. In the midst of that city waste is now Detroit , you can hear a silent scream that alerts us to the big mistake is to base the fate of societies that exponential growth does not stop to reflect on what the direction of this growth .


Unfortunately in Spain know of irrational growth . In recent times we have lived throughout our territory, in cities, suburbs, coastal and countryside -the madness of unbridled speculative process and subsequent sharp slowdown in the economy. The unfortunate outcome of this unsustainable development has left thousands of works everywhere half built as architectural corpses abandoned. They are the lasting physical effects of a collective failure.


The concern , interest and anger, these events and their dire consequences have awakened citizens and professionals in both Spanish and European , have been reflected in many papers and reports . An example is the book ” Modern Ruins , a topography of profit” of the German architect based in Barcelona Julia Schulz- Dornburg , compiling a photographic inventory abandoned speculative construction in Spain . Another more political work is the report on “the impact of extensive urbanization in Spain on individual rights of European citizens , the environment and the application of Community law ” Danish Marguete Auken MEP in the European Parliament adopted in March 2012 and reveals the atrocities committed in the Spanish territory of generating irreparable damage.


For our part and from the field of research at the University , we have addressed this issue to reflect new project strategies capable of posing a sustainable future. And in particular, the last course teach in the Master of Advanced Architectural Design ETSAM at the Polytechnic University of Madrid, an international seminar entitled ” Building lifeless. As confront contemporary architectural corpses. ”


A hundred years ago , around 1912 , in a convulsive crisis and uncertainty antebellum period, silos and other buildings of the Industrial Revolution inspired the architects in their search for the spirit of the times. Throughout the twentieth century , the meaning of industrial structures evolved and remained a leader in positioning both critical and renewed approaches and architectures that brought modern development and modernization project .

Without denying the controversy, these ruins of the industrial revolution still emerge in the collective imagination as symbols of progress and productive engine general welfare. At the same time, from just five years ago and in our immediate environment , have appeared other contemporary ruins that are the result of the most sterile and frenzied speculation. These recent unfinished projects , leaving shattered landscapes and architectural waste mountains symbolize the failure of the predatory economy of our time, but can also be triggered new attitudes critical to rethink the future .


As mourners bodies , these modern ruins promptly demand innovative ideas and project strategies able to retrieve the identity of the place and promote consistency with the environment through poetic practice an economy of scarcity. The pain arose in the course of biological evolution as a system of alarm signals that warn the animal of the potential damage that threaten you . Well throughout the territory , both the “natural” environment and urban , injuries and malformations caused by the desire to develop and build wildly and in record time , are the warning signs that we must now interpret for heal a wounded body and stalked by threats ; architectural corpses that remain are the record of a failed system and a lurking danger : how to build, live, think – to be a man on earth, our environment must be rethought urgently .


The problem exists , it is urgent and demand solutions. We propose contemplate positive as an excellent opportunity to involve construction companies , public and private agencies, professionals from multiple fields and groups of citizens willing or affected. Supposed to solve a recent waste material as a serious problem that future societies will inherit , so undoubtedly young architects are particularly interested in offering , with its look of future ideas and policy proposals . These substantial remains of the housing bubble are severely affecting the economies of both the public administration and to companies and individuals. And the usual way of solving the problem based on ” more growth ” , has already demonstrated its utter inefficiency. It is therefore the first task to stop and think we should do with the corpses scattered everywhere after the battle. That is, the reflection is essential , proposing ideas and strategies that lead to actions for damages , recycling , review, restructuring , revitalization , resignation, reuse, etc. . able to assume and assimilate the failed attempts and never inhabited unfinished works, which have become after the crisis in architectural ruins lifeless and memory.


Distributed by centers and urban neighborhoods , the towns and the coast , in nearby and remote locations not only in Spain but in many other parts of Europe ( from Iceland to Greece, Italy or Ireland to Russia ) , these contemporary architectural waste are unfortunately a negative expression of our time. Projects on these undesirable works are able to cope and perform blunt but symptomatic of a new time , and open up avenues for progress nowadays architecture more in keeping with the limited material resources , respect for the environment and safeguarding harmony in the lives of people.

  • E13 Blanca Lleo 01