How will migration influence architecture and the city?
from the portfolio Letters from Home, 2004
Portfolio of eight woodblocks and metalcuts printed in black on handmade Kozo paper and mounted on Somerset paper
Edition of 20
Image size: 12 x 9 inches (30.5 x 22.9 cm)
Sheet size: 22 1/4 x 15 inches (56.5 x 38.1 cm)
TODAY - TOMORROW IT WILL BE DIFFERENT
What are we looking for?
-We're looking for the better.
(Two or three years ago, some emigrants from Syria, when they found out that they had crossed the border illegally into Romania, they started to cry. Not of happiness. They were looking for Germany. They were looking better.)
What are we waiting to find there?
-Something better than home. But we expect it to be a better home. A home.
(We, the Romanians, felt something "similar" (!?) after the regime change in 1989. We expected the "western" promise to be a better home. At first it was a huge joy. A moderate disappointment followed. Then another harder one. The frustrations have come. We settled in. We reset. I think it was much easier because we were still at home. We had not changed the place, we had not changed the language, we had not changed the house. It was still home. Now, after the "revolution", we have other forms of political and economic organization, other hierarchies, other priorities. Maybe other social relationships.)
I believe that the main problem when we change places is how we manage to relate to ourselves as an identity continuity.
We change the place.
But do we keep the difference that / what differentiates us? Faith? Culture? Language? The mentality? Habits? Dowry? Parental home? Inheritance? (we leave the ethnic identity in parentheses).
What do we do with all this luggage-from-home when we leave and where do we put it when we arrive in a place full of the luggage-of that place?
To emigrate or to immigrate?
Of course, immigration would be that momentary solution that will allow you to pass the "hop" without losing your identity-heritage-place.
What about emigration?
Integrate and assimilate?
How did the Indian red skins assimilate in America?
How will Roma integrate in Romania?
The Roma from Romania, who had an identity for hundreds of years, were a people, gypsies - now Roma citizens, a new people, with a new name; they had a nomadic culture, now they live in apartment buildings; for others their names seemed strange, but they were specific to their own kind, now they are called -escu or Ion; they spoke an oral language permanently enriched with elements of everyday language, now, fewer and fewer will study at school their dead language or taken to mortification; great-grandchildren and great-grandparents lived in large families together, now they will live like the others in single-couple families, father-mother and a child; they were genuine anti-system, now they go to school and learn to respect the system. They were picturesquely dressed, now they wear jeans and a t-shirt; they went with shovel carts and lived in camps on the outskirts of the city, now they drive 4x4 cars and make palaces where they do not live but are surrogates compensating for the loss of identity. As such, have they integrated, replaced the family and the clan with the systemic society, but are they still authentic Roma-gypsies?
By what will their descendants of tomorrow identify with the ancestors of 50 years ago?
Is this process in their favor or only in the favor of the unifying society? Is it a tribute paid to assimilation-integration? Is it worth paying for?
I had finished writing the article, it was a sunny day, Saturday afternoon, in Bucharest Unirii Square, I had left Starbucks with the glass of eco wax paper in my hand (it was a pandemic, there were no tables inside), in front of me on the sidewalk three gypsies, ageless - between 30 and 50 years old, dressed in long flowered and flared skirts, one of them with a yellow "jacket" in golden scales, the moving body language does not denote any stress, more a certain "je m'en fous ”, it was a joy for me but also for these beings enjoying their authenticity. All three enterd the Nike store.
Isn't the ideology of the undifferentiated man hypocritical? Doesn't the idea love itself? more than the one to whom it wants to do good to?
Giving up that something of one's own, will be the passport to the becoming world.
In the near or distant future will we speak the same language ?; will we believe in the same God ?; will we live in identical houses ?; will we use the same colors? Will we wear the same clothes?
Will emigration ultimately mean integration or will it be a halfway immigration?
That is, to benefit from a friendlier natural environment and a better built artificial environment? Of a functional economy. Of a secure income.
But what about the rest?
Ancestor faith. National culture. Parental language. The collective mentality. The customs there. Dowry from home. Grandparent's house.
We will ask human beings who have occupied a natural environment and built an artificial environment to share it with us now. And we will share with them: our ancestral faith, our national culture, our native language, our collective mentality, our customs where we come from, our dowry from home, our grandparents' house. How will this be done: through assimilation or integration?
While museums are full of local identities, archaeologists are making constant efforts to bring to light new evidence of the cultural endowment of the "blood" ancestors of those lands, about how beautiful and smart the people who left them were. These legacies gave them authenticity in the world concert of mankind.
We will make two baskets, the emigrants (a category that includes both the regionals and the cohabiting populations) and the majority natives, a basket in which we will put together, in common, the smallest common multiple of our endowments and a garbage can where we will throw away what we believe exceeds the power of assimilation on both sides. Yes, we will lose the extreme peculiarities and we will gain a mixture of culturally, behaviorally digestible elements on both sides, etc. We will choose the common place, often the least interesting and significant but we will be happy together.
Today, immigration is a matter of survival. Emigration has always been and will be a desire for the better. At the end of the road: integration or assimilation.
Integration is an option.
Assimilation is a matter of ideology.
Service ideologues will have to find / invent other concepts and other terms.
But until then I think that even after that we will rotate in a circle because the Earth is round but not perfect. The artificially built environment, the architecture, the urbanism, are even more imperfect because they “dress” according to the constantly changing society; tell me what the city looks like so I know where you live ...
And until then, and hopefully even after that, architecture will not have to choose between the solution for survival or the other for assimilation but will have to solve them individually without falling into the trap of ideologies. Practically a forgivable operable global non-globalizing process.
How will we, the architects, face this challenge?
I think that in this increasingly technological and computerized world (algorithmized), we, architects, should rely and operate with conscious algorithms (consciousness, intuition) and not on / with the unconscious (logic-mathematics, ideology, politics), and maybe we will keep our place and role in the world (and maybe we will make a more authentic architecture than the one that could be made by machine-artificial).
Emigrants, after a long road full of dangers and sacrifices, the place you will end up may not suit you, but neither may the locals, because the horizon is looming: Procrustian architecture and urbanism!
The legend that reinvents itself:
Procrustes (Greek: Προκρούστης Prokroustes) is a character from Greek mythology. He enticed travelers and offered them the hospitality of his home. Once they were in his house, Procrustes forced them to sleep on a copper bed. When the traveler was shorter than the bed, Procrustes stretched his body, pulling his hands and feet until he lay exactly on the bed. If the guest was longer than the bed, Procrustes cut off his head or legs. Obviously, in any case the outcome was the death of the unlucky traveler. The hero Theseus put an end to Procrustes's sadistic life and practices, subjecting him to the same treatments he had reserved for his "guests." Metaphorically, the " Procrustean bed" has become a symbol of abusive practices of framing people, their thinking and feelings, in certain predetermined patterns. " (wikipedia- This article or section has several problems. You can help solve them or comment on the talk page. For help, see the guidelines page. Sic!)
Led by Shefali Balwani and Robert Verrijt, Architecture BRIO engages actively in the creation of contextually appropriate, sustainable design solutions within an increasingly changing world. The work of the studio addresses new ways of understanding the often contradictory interrelations between the city, architecture, landscape, and the world of interiors. There is a growing need for our built environment to re-establish healthy relationships with the natural world. Similarly there is an urgency to address the never before seen growth in urban and rural areas in India and globally. Within this context, the work searches for a delicate balance between architecture as the act of disappearance, and creating characterful, responsive and experiential environments.