Meet Your Neighbors (Again)

Marcos Parga

These are extraordinarily uncertain times.

As 2021 progresses, we must assume that we are inevitably moving towards a new scenario that, in many respects, has yet to be precisely defined and could mark the beginning of a new era.

In addition to an increasing list of pressing social and environmental issues, the past few months have shown us how all aspects of our lives were severely impacted and potentially transformed by the COVID-19 pandemic. As one of the first reactions, the world of neoliberal governmentality and ethics is once again being scrutinized and questioned. The consequences of globalization have been quarantined.

In an attempt to catch up, our discipline reacted by questioning itself (again) through a dizzying increase in essays, articles, posts, publications, course syllabi, ZOOM interviews, ZOOM seminars, ZOOM workshops, ZOOM lectures, and panel discussions about how we, as architects, should respond to and fit into a post-vaccine era, if only to offer old innovative (always relevant) answers to new recurring (always needed) questions.

But if we narrow the scope of our predictions and look into the new routines that affect us all, we realize how deeply the global lock-down has turned our domestic receptacles into the only physical environment verily available. This accelerates an already prevalent mode of experiencing the world while living indoors – a willful and questionable closure enhanced by communication technologies,[1] forcing a new perspective on familiar and personal interactions.

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[1] See Lydia Kallipoliti, “Zoom In, Zoom Out.” At the Border, e-flux Architecture, https://www.e-flux.com/architecture/at-the-border/325754/zoom-in-zoom-out/
[2] See Markus Miessen, The Nightmare of Participation (Crossbench Praxis as a Mode of Criticality). (Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2011).
[3] See Michael McKeon, The Secret History of Domesticity: Public and Private Division of Knowledge. (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 2005).
[4] See Jürgen Habermas, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society. (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1989).
[5] See Pier Vittorio Aureli, Martino Tattara, “Production/Reproduction: Housing beyond the Family.” Harvard Design Magazine, No. 41, F/W 2015.
[6] See Robin Evans, “Figures, Doors and Passages,” in Translations from Drawing to Building and Other Essays (London: Architectural Association, 2003), 55-91.
[7] See Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984).
[8] “Modern Architecture died in St. Louis, Missouri on July 15, 1972 at 3.32 p.m. (or thereabouts) when the infamous Pruitt-Igoe scheme, or rather several of its slab blocks, were given the final coup de grâce by dynamite.” See Charles Jenks, The Language of Post-Modern Architecture. (New York: Rizzoli, 1977).
[9] According to Roland Barthes, idiorrhythmy has always denoted a particular manner to make one’s life flow as opposed to a regulated and imposed one. See Roland Barthes, How to Live Together: Novelistic Simulations of Some Everyday Spaces. (Paris: Seuil/Imec, 2002. Translation Edition, New York: Columbia University Press, 2012).
[10] See Niklas Maak, “The Dispersal of Architecture”, e-flux journal #66, October 2015.