Let's Call the Whole Thing Off
What does it mean to be contemporary? Obvious answer: every architect is contemporary to his own time. Leon Battista Alberti, Mies van der Rohe, Ippodamo da Mileto and Aldo Rossi are all synchronous with the culture of the times in which they have lived. How couldn’t it be? It is tautological: we are all contemporary to our own time because we live in it.
Maybe, one could be non-contemporary if he or she designed in the same manner as it was done in the past. This one would not be our contemporary, nor a contemporary of the ones he is referring to. Nonetheless, we know that some architects have tried to refer to pasts’ ideologies as alternative forms of contemporaneity in their own time, one example being William Morris. Is William Morris a contemporary of Gustave Eiffel or not? Most likely yes. As we see, then, the question of the “contemporary” is a difficult one; one that needs a complex answer.
Last chapter in this discussion is an essay recently published by Mario Carpo, entitled “Post-Digital “Quitters”: Why the Shift Toward Collage Is Worrying”. In this text, Carpo seems to be arguing that contemporary architecture should be the expression of the era we are all living in; namely, the digital one. In an inexcusable gesture of reduction, Carpo’s argument can be described as follows: architects shouldn’t “quit” the “digital”, but rather keep on working on its agenda, avoiding any temptation of going towards the so-called “post-digital”. Furthermore, in rebutting the need of discussing the use of technology in architectural design, Carpo – as usual – provides us a truly important issue that we need to keep in mind: “Architects cannot do without technology, but technology can do without them.”
Still, while recognizing the consistency of Carpo’s argument, it shouldn’t be necessary to accept the fact that one should be “digital” in order to produce valuable architectural contents....[Continue Reading]