Once upon a time there was a society marked by the revival of ideologies, where occasionally there was the (re)valorization of attitudes other than the prevailing... Individuals who dared to face the conformed world where they lived in and, yearning a change in the architectural paradigm, fought strongly for their ideals. Architecture — the art required to transform the world. Architecture is the mean by which everything around us changes, shaping up progressively to the spirit of the time. Given this mission which entails so many responsibilities, shouldn't architects, the creator beings, assume themselves as more interventionist members in an apathy scenario? Shouldn’t they also, them in particular, find alternative ways, new fields of action leading us to the so much desired transformation of the paradigm? The Fantasized Architecture arises precisely from that will!
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The Fantasized Architecture, the protagonist of this story, calls for a more sensitive, creative and communicative practice. Above all, it calls for a figurative transcendence, exalting the imagination as the main and most important tool at the service of the whole process of creation. Without any intention of creating a new playing field, this attitude will rather come as a contribution to an already existing one, though slighted and usually absent from the orthodox academic speech. Thus, with a view to finding new directions, the Fantasized Architecture develops itself from an interdisciplinary methodology (this being one of its most powerful assets), seeking to integrate in its essence what other areas have as most enriching.
“Architects have to stop thinking in terms of buildings only. (...) A true architecture of our time will have to redefine itself and to expand its means. Many areas outside traditional building will enter the realm of architecture, as architecture and “architects” will have to enter new fields. All are architects. Everything is architecture.” Hans Hollein, Bau jornal, 1968
Architecture is a versatile discipline, providing their apprentices with a very wide range of knowledge in various areas. It is therefore believed that architects are in possession of numerous different ways to reinvent themselves and to expand their horizons by discovering new fields of work, building a positive vision of the future. In a time when their traditional function is in disruption, saturated, having been brought almost to exhaustion, it is necessary to engage in other paths. In this search process, it is fundamental to assimilate the wise command of Hans Hollein, because, in fact, everything is architecture, one just has to imagine.
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The Fantasized architecture, the protagonist of this story, looks for a precise, intentional and reasoned distancing, in respect to a prosaic and reductionist practice — the Silent Architecture, the enemy character. This is, in turn, a posture that gradually became dominant in our current architectural scene, trivializing it. Its abstract creations convey nothing to the individual — are cold, austere, poor, silent. “Currently, there is a gap between architecture and the rest of the world. Architects have lost their centrality in the society. (...) By retreating in self-absorption, architecture has lost its ability to send universal messages, to represent culture in its time, and to address issues that are those of the general public.” Blank Space Project, Fairy Tales Brief, 2014
On a widespread basis, architecture no longer contains in its essence aspects of figurative nature. This greatly contributes to its increasing transformation into an area of difficult understanding, lacking communication, subsisting around its disciplinary strictly ideals, becoming, therefore, more and more distant from society, from the inhabitant. We are faced today with a standardized architectural heritage of easy replication, thanks to the emergence of a trend aiming to create a so-called "minimalist" architecture, which is a stance characterized by the reduction of the form to a purely elementary geometry.
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"Objects capable of instantaneous cognition are this way obtained, in relation to either their presence in the landscape and the internal reading of the cubage of the spaces. Supports for the quotidian are hence also obtained, the quality of which is judged to boil down to its smoothness." José Capela, in Laura crítica, 2005, p.18
This is a practice considered to constitute a demonstration of regression, a model that, also in past times, proved its failure and left all of its weaknesses uncovered. This formal depuration, which produces exemplars lacking eloquence, is an exhausted practice and therefore does not constitute a solution to the current contingencies.
Yet, currently, at a time when the "minimalist" trend is no longer seen as protagonist, other prevailing attitudes continue themselves to contribute to the creation of abstract forms too — the phenomenological integration of the building in the landscape, the great emblematic sculptures of the star system, the parametric architecture produced through a computer language — giving rise to a silent architecture that will not certainly constitute the desired alternative in the search for a new creative field. The Fantasized Architecture, the protagonist of this story, will thus try to defeat its enemy, the Silent Architecture, seeking to challenge its advance and all the triviality it is known for.
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So, inevitably a question must be put: how to produce a Fantasized Architecture? The answer to this question will next be found in a formula in which all new architectural ingredients will be specified and analysed.
The formula is finished and all the ingredients needed to achieve it are specified! Aiming to distance itself from a prosaic and simplistic approach, towards a more sensitive and communicative practice, closer to the individual, Fantasized Architecture will include new ingredients in its expression, through which it will intend to impose itself as a reinvented discipline. Thus, it will be thanks to the transcendent nature of fantasy that Fantasized Architecture will seek to overcome all that is vulgar, creating and inventing new scenarios. It will be through the narrative resulting from storytelling that it may convey more effectively the desired message and shape the complex reality, using captivating stories that clarify it. And finally, it will be in fairy tales, the most sparkling existing reality, that it will be able to find an endless source of inspiration so as to, through them, be able to incorporate human desire in its creations.
Ingredient nº 1 — Fantasy It is through fantasy that we accede to the act of creation, to invention. Fantasy gives us the ability and the right to conceive and legitimize new realities, to idealize all kinds of possibilities, having the limit of individual imagination as the only obstacle. Fantasy allows to exceed the limits of what we consider conventional — fantasy is transcendent. The history of architecture has always been marked by fanciful moments. Moments that have been devalued and camouflaged by the more pragmatic currents that relegated them to a secondary level. Moments to which due importance was not given, although they were an important stimulus for the evolution of architectural practice, "(...) impulses of architectural fantasy were branded as freaks. At best, they were called individualistic or different — because they did not "fit"." (Ulrich Conrads; Hans Sperlich, The Architecture of Fantasy: Utopian Buildings and Planning in Modern Times, p. 6) Being fantasy something that allows us to push the limits of common sense, it is believed that a generous dose of this ingredient added to architecture will provide it with a different kind of language that will bring an opportunity for renewal. When projecting places using a fictional methodology, a chance to reconsider all that can be an architectural space in its many possibilities is given. People are confronted with places that although compelling the conventional boundaries, arouse their curiosity or some kind of feeling. Thus, different ways to experience spaces emerge and, when fantasized, they provide the demystification of barriers in the understanding of the architecture, easily making it understandable by everyone’s imagination. Ingredient nº 2 – Narrative "Storytelling is one of the most beautiful human occupations (...) All other human occupations tend more or less to explore men; only storytelling is lovingly dedicated to entertain them, which often is the same as comforting them." Besides to being the most effective way to convey a message, storytelling is a practice that is also intrinsically linked to the ability to fantasize and imagine. Indeed, it can even be said that it depends on it. The need to create narratives around our everyday experiences is something inherent to the human being, let alone the fact that this art is one of the oldest practices in society. Stories are therefore a very precious good — they convey knowledge, they are a legacy that passes from one generation to another, they are an inexhaustible source of wisdom, of memories. “Storytelling is architecture made with words. Architecture made with stories is a super-story.” It is therefore considered that the architectural speech may be decoded if disseminated through the narration of a story, another ingredient to be added to this alternative way of thinking architecture. One story that will make it more understandable, more captivating, without never missing its complexity, though. Ingredient nº 3 - Fairy Tales “If you eliminate the fairy tale from reality I’m against you. It’s the most sparkling reality there is.” Fairy tales have a very special place among all stories. They are narratives that have a unique ability to communicate profound ideas, through simple means that never lose their fantastic component. It is through them that we will gradually understand the real world and its difficulties as we age and, without noticing it, fairy tales are our first challenge of logic and creativity. Louis Kahn believed that every architectural work should be understood as a fairy tale, since in it, as in these stories, human desire should be implicit. He considered that the narratives in question were the most actual content of our reality, being a source of wonder thanks to its powerful inspiring role. According to Kahn fairy tales were a valuable resource for architects, something they could incorporate in their work as a stimulus to the creation process.
5 Louis Kahn, in Conversations with Architects, p.192 Eça de Queirós, Correspondência,1981 Velimir Khlebnikov
The Fantasized Architecture, the female heroine of this story, is a discipline reinvented through fantasy, narrative and fairy tales.
“(...) go into the buildings, endow them with fairy tales of color, engrave your ideas onto their naked walls — and build in fantasy without regard for technical difficulties. To have the gift of imagination is more important than all technology, which always adapts itself to man's creative will.” Incorporating marks of fairy tales in buildings, constructing in fantasy — this was the advice left by Walter Gropius, at a time when he (still) fantasized. The ideals underlying the statement above transcribed served as a motto for the birth of this argumentation and speculation experience around the idea of Fantasized Architecture, constituting its structural pillar, its philosophy. The Fantasized Architecture, the female heroine of this story, emerges therefore in order to generate creations that arouse sublime effects on individuals, getting them emotional. Its methodology will aim, above all, to praise the imagination — it must assume its leading role and free itself from the clutches of rationality that limit it, thus allowing the architect to fantasize freely. “Let us consciously be “imaginary architects!” We believe that only a complete revolution can guide us in our task.” Here is the true mission of the architectural practice advocated herein, this being the real purpose in this story — to guide architecture by the hand of fantasy, showing it new directions, new possibilities. And then it will be possible that architecture and individuals may, they too, live happily ever after...
Walter Gropius, Pamphlet about the Exhibition of Unknown Architects, Berlin, 1919 Bruno Taut, Circular letter of November 24,1919
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Image references 1. Different point of view, author's collage. Main elements: Cigarette Ash Landscape, Yang Yongliang; Victor Nizovtsev's illustrations. 2. Sister Houses, Daniel Merriam. 3. Free architectural ideas, author's collage. Main elements: Architecture Supermarket, Sophie Van Den Fonteyne's installation. 4. Fairies & Villains Vs Le Corbusier, author's collage. 5. New architectural ingredients, author's collage. 6. Imaginary architects, author's collage. Main elements: Through a hole in the mountain, Pip & Pop; Crystal Castle in the Sea, Wenzel Hablik; Daniel Merriam's illustration.
Bibliography BETTELHEIM, Bruno; The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales, Vintage Books Edition, United States of America, 2010. COLEMAN, Nathaniel; Utopias and Architecture, Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2005. CONRADS, Ultrich; SPERLICH, Hans G.; The Architecture of Fantasy: Utopian Building and Planning in Modern Times, Frederick A. Praeger Publisher, New York, 1962. GADANHO, Pedro; OLIVEIRA, Susana (eds.); Once Upon a Place – Architecture & Fiction; Caleidoscópio, Edição e Artes Gráficas, Lisboa, 2013.