“Nouvelle Vague” is how the editor in chief of Architecture d’Aujourd’hui describes the new binome of water and cities. In our interview I express how the re-use of traditional practices can place water as a design agent of place-making.
“I think we are living at a turning point, where for the first time since Modernism the word heritage is on the agenda. We gave up a lot in the name of technology, and it’s not about being nostalgic about the past, but we have a lot to learn from traditional practices. Using water as a design catalyst for urban planning is necessarily a window on the past, as it is obvious that water management was and is the most essential element for survival. We are at a turning point because we have reached this climax where survival is a real question, and water is again at the core. As a design tool, water seems like the most optimum device for the contemporary city. Water knows no boundaries, and therefore penetrates the fragmented archipelagoes, linking dislocated and isolated entities. Water is transversal to everything it crosses. It’s a connective matter that has the capability of defining new unities. And then of course there is the ecological factor, and the idea that we need to invent a new urban water cycle that is based on on-site recycling. We can no longer just use and throw out, we need to re-use and re-cycle.
The word “resilience” re-questions the very essence of urban planning. Resilience means to absorb, adapt and grow. In essence it means to have the capacity to mutate. To be alive. Traditional urban planning is based on a formal approach that is impossible to pursue today. The advent of the digital network has created acceleration and complexities that make uncertainty the new constant. Furthermore, a new world is emerging beyond fossil fuel driven capitalism, out of a human necessity to connect on a deeper more spiritual level than what the rationalization of Modernity imposed. The spiritual connection is inevitably associated to Nature. By 2050 seventy percent of the population will be urban. Although formal planning is obsolete, informal growth is not desired either. Therefore we are at a new interface of formal and informal urbanism, where the parameters of design are going to be natural dynamics such as wind corridors, aquifers, biomass. These parameters will draw figures, or “field conditions” as defined by Stan Allen “
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