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Louisiana Manifesto - Architecture Transcends Life
Dina Mehta, 28 Jun 05

louisianamanifesto.jpgI was in Denmark earlier this month for Reboot 7 and I got the opportunity to visit the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk. Jean Nouvel's Louisiana Manifesto is on view until September. Arcspace has a neat write-up on it, reflecting my feelings as I walked around the exhibition :

"Conceived as a manifesto of Nouvel’s thoughts and ideas about architecture, the exhibition challenges our sensory responses in order to understand how the fundamental architectural principle of a strong dialogue with the spirit and specific character of a place forms the point of departure for all his project...

The museum is a stunning piece of architecture, using natural surroundings and sunlight so effectively. But I was most taken by the Louisiana Manifesto (pdf file) which I felt is truly Worldchanging.

It is a manifesto crafted for architecture, but I feel it is much more - its a manifesto worth embracing by humanity and breathing in for life.

... The Manifesto Room takes the form of a purely textual space where the walls carry a whole succession of the statements, with related quotes, that make up the manifesto. On the floor are large stacks of the exhibition catalogue in the form of a free newspaper and a poster, a visual atlas of a number of striking Nouvel projects, put together and edited by French writer and architecture critic Olivier Boissière."


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Some of the more powerful thoughts in the Manifesto :

It is an expansion of our world at a time when that world is getting smaller.

At a time when we rush across the world faster and faster,
when we listen to and watch the same global networks, share feelings
about the same disasters,
when we dance to the same hits, watch the same matches,
when they flood us with the same films, in which the star is global,
when the president of one country wants to rule the world,
when we shop in cloned shopping centres, work behind the same
eternal curtain walls ...
and when whatever good might come of this forms no part of global
priorities ...

Why, for instance, shouldn’t education eradicate illiteracy more quickly and
surely?

Why don’t the medicines that save the victims of pandemics get to them in time?

Architecture is by no means spared these new conditions of an efficient,
profitable world increasingly marked by an ideology delivered as the baggage
of the economy.

The global economy is accentuating the effects of the dominant architecture,
the type that claims “we don’t need context”.

And yet debate on this galloping frenzy does not exist: architectural criticism,
invoking the limits of the discipline, is content with aesthetic and stylistic
reflections devoid of any analysis of the real, and ignores the crucial historical
clash that – more insistently every day – sets a global architecture against an
architecture of situations, generic architecture against an architecture of
specificity.

Is our modernity today simply the direct descendant of the modernity of the 20th century, devoid of any spirit of criticism?

Does it consist simply of parachuting solitary objects on to the face of the planet?

Shouldn’t it rather be looking for reasons, correspondences, harmonies,
differences in order to propose an ad-hoc architecture, here and now?

And another portion :

From now on, let architecture rediscover its aura in the inexpressible, in the cloudy. In the imperfection of what is invented! The architect is not aware of having come to the end of his work until he slips and slides from creation to modification, from assertion to allusion, from building-up to filling-in, from construction to infiltration, from imposition to superimposition, from the neat to the nebulous, from addition to deviation, from calligraphy to etching, to erasure ...

Instead of the archaic architectural goal of domination, of making a permanent mark, today we should prefer to seek the pleasure of living somewhere.

Let us remember that architecture can also be an instrument of oppression, a tool for conditioning behaviour.

Let us never permit anyone to censure this pursuit of pleasure, especially in the domain of the familiar and intimate that is so necessary to our wellbeing.

Let us identify ourselves.

Everyone bears a potential world within himself or herself.

Let us be aware of our potential, which is equal to that of any human being – largely unexplored, often poetic, therefore disquieting.

No more corsets, no more ready-to-wear lives!
No more architecture-by-numbers that turns us into numbers!
No more cloned cities, global offices, pre-occupied homes!
We want to be able to keep on travelling,
to listen to spontaneous music,
to live in landscapes as inhabited as a personality,
to meet men and women who invent their own culture,
to discover unknown colours.

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