Perhaps it is this spark of a spirit that, in hands of a man, turns into a visible object and in this way becomes a part of the Creation, as the Japanese claim. Contemplating all the soulless modern buildings, one gets the impression that this spirit is missing. With each design I try to create good, payable and functional pieces of architecture, no matter if it is a studio apartment or a reconstruction of a baroque manor. If I manage to capture this spark of a spirit, I can say that I have fulfilled my architectural task.
The challenge is to explore, analyze and adapt the technical and social influences of the environment. Like art that develops a filtering, focusing and catalyzing interdependence with the surrounding, the architecture should be influenced by the environment. There is nothing innovatory about the postulate of the avant-garde that emhasises the importance of cross-references, since, in my opinion, cross-references are a precondition. Around 1840 a gardener in Paris developed ferroconcrete. First after 70 years of reaserch, one was able to use steel-concrete structures to build flowing spaces of modern classical style. The importance of sustainable and ecological buildings that counterbalance increasing emission of carbon dioxide (CO2) is widely recognized. Unfortunately, we – architects, are given too little time to meet these conditions.
Modern architecture has become event architecture, created to be quickly consumed and even quicker forgotten. It has become a rowdy architecture that has a form but, because of its meaninglessness, it is very short-lived. The architecture should react on its environment and should be able to get old without seeming to be old. A 500-year-old, well-made building can be healthier and more ecological than a newly built “thermos flask” equipped with the latest technical achievements.
At the same time, the hostility towards progress is definitely an inappropriate way to tackle these problems. It will be a task of the next generations to decide whether we, “the mechanized”, have chosen the right direction during the last century or whether we have simply become happier because of the use of technology and resulting from this comfort. The spirits of the progress that we have let out of the bottle are definitely present. Therefore, the solution to the problems of our mechanized society can only be found in a far more technically developed universe. The same applies to the architecture which is inextricably dependent on the technological development. The strive to produce energy without carbon footprint that is cheap and available in sufficient quantity allows to look optimistically in the future. This kind of discovery would enable to create architecture that does not require to justify artistic triviality by references to current legal regulations (e.g. sa/vol or WSVO – ordinance on thermal insulation).
Taking a walk in metropolises of Europe and throwing glances at the buildings, one gets an impression that modern architecture is incapable to answer questions regarding urban development of the 21st century. On the one hand, one can find façades forced into a line. On the other hand, an overwhelming cry for reconstructed coziness is so far-fetched, e.g. by unnecessary use of plastic elements and other modern materials, that one cannot tell what is represented neither by the original nor by the reconstruction.
We, architects, have to find our place in this society. We may notice things that others might not see, but it is not enough to recognize mistakes and demands. Giving sustainable solutions is unequally more important and far more difficult, since one can fail while facing self-established demands. Nonetheless: A building itself is the best answer to all questions and the only indicator of the correctness of a chosen path. That is why I would like to conclude my reflection of architecture by quoting Lewis Carroll (1832 – 1898):
One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. “Which road do I take?” she asked. “Where do you want to go?” was his response. “I don’t know”, Alice answered. “Then,” said the cat, “it doesn’t matter.”