Turning points, visionary thoughts and personal stories
In the spring-time of 2009 numerous towns and villages in the region of Abruzzo, Italy, were destroyed by a horrible earthquake. To this day, the residents are picking up the pieces of their existence. By losing their homes they lost the center of their personal life. There is possibly no other event where the meaning of housing as an existential human need is more radically shown than in a devastation of these epic proportions. This earthquake became an impulse and pivotal point for mediart01 to begin a very personal search for the nature of housing and to find out its existentialistic meaning both for the individual and our modern society. “The Wounded Brick” tells about characteristic turning points, visionary thoughts and personal stories during this search - from the point of views of architects, sociologists and urban planners but especially from the perspectives of those who have been affected: people in the earthquake region who had to experience the loss of their houses.
Housing on the edge of emergency
What does housing mean for a human being and for our modern society? The demographical, sociological, and economical upheavals in the modern world compel us to put this term radically in question. Our societal system is fragmenting. The migration and their following consequences in the local societies, the rapid increase of mobility, the experience of the limitations of our natural resources, and the uncontrolled growth of cities, are some of the major challenges to the topic of today’s housing. Whomever brings up cultural differences and the interplay of individual architectural practice and social development and wants to discuss this in terms of sustainable social responsibility, will hardly find a more current and descriptive subject.
A Life Long Search for the Meaning of housing
We meet three international renowned architects, the Doyens respective countries and two accredited sociologists and urban planners. Despite of their - partly -extremely advanced age, they still work creatively: Pritzker Prize Award winner Gottfried Böhm in Cologne, Vittorio Gregotti in Milan, Harry Glück in Vienna, Hartmut Häußermann in Berlin and Vezio de Lucia in Rome. Their stories about the hard assignment of designing housing mix with their professional biographies. And they mix with the upheavals and dynamic developments of the social and cultural situations in their country and with the problems that thereby arise for the topic of housing (e.g. the division of Germany and the social protest movement of the 60’s and 70’s). They talk about architectural concepts, urban design strategies, and their own personal visions in which they tried in the past few decades to explore the essence of housing not only in order to design homes that meet the people’s real existential needs, but also in order to try to make society more humane. Their words are an intimate insight into their world of thoughts and they are a fascinating historical testimony.
On April 6, 2009, a shocking earthquake destroyed the region around L’Aquila in the Italian Abruzzi. L’Aquila is the main social, economical, and cultural center of the whole region. Not only the medieval town center, the renaissance palaces and many of the houses and apartments are damaged or destroyed, but also many of the historically important villages in the surrounding area are badly mutilated and their existence is threatened. Suddenly they all became ghost towns.The degree of the destruction not only affects the individuals, but also the collective memories of places, their identities, their histories and traditions. Today the 50,000 homeless people are now mostly housed in quickly built satellite cities. There is no economic interest in the rebuilding of their lost villages and towns, which were the birthplaces of their original identity and culture. The victims retell the stories of their homeland, their lives, their culture, and their homes. They painfully summarize that, even with the new homes, they still feel, that the hole that the earthquake left is not being filled in. Although many families from the old villages find their new homes more luxurious and larger now, they are still unhappy, feel alienated and feel like they are in exile. Their biggest wish is to return to their old homes.
On the Path to the Future
What are the visions for the future of housing? How do architects respond to the problems of rapidly growing cities, the issues with diversification of life forms and styles and arising issues of economy and ecology? Is it possible to respond to the social realities and demographic changes with visionary architectural experiments? Four renowned and innovative architects talk about their exciting search for possible concepts for the future: Friedrich von Borries in Berlin, Stalker/Osservatorio Nomade in Rome, Stefano Boeri in Milan und PAUHOF Architects in Vienna. Their ideas go from building a new city over the existing one, radically recapturing nature into the city” to the concepts of occupying the city through its residents. The architects ideas seem risky, radical and experimental but uncompromisingly, they put the people at the center of their thinking about a humane vision of housing.