By Postgraduate Master Emergency & Resilience
University of Venice
IUAV + University of Sassari UNISS
Tomás Saraceno installation at SFMoMA in San Francisco, 2017
Photo: Justin Paul Ware
Through this text, teachers and students of the Master Emergency + Resilience at the Università IUAV di Venezia search for a common understanding of the health crisis that is currently facing our planet. At this moment, the fields of Architecture and Planning should contribute their collective voice to mitigating the next pandemic and increasing urban resilience. However, we cannot forget that everything on this planet is interconnected. This pandemic must be considered at a global dimension, with direct connections to the Climate Crisis and human behavior. This holistic approach invites us to imagine a new social order, one with a better balance between nature and society, one with renewed ethical principles and moral values. Architecture and Planning should participate in the construction of this new social order.
We believe that the academic and professional worlds of Architecture and Planning have an ethical responsibility to address this current pandemic. In response, the postgraduate Master Emergency + Resilience at the Università IUAV di Venezia created an international workgroup of teachers and students to establish questions and gather experiences to frame our investigation. The goal is to develop ideas that support mitigation of this current health crisis and strengthen the resilience of our society in preparation for the next humanitarian emergency. It is clear to us, from our collected experiences during this pandemic, that our cities, spaces, and lifestyles must change in response. So then, how can we, as architects and planners, imagine a future for the anticipated extreme environmental conditions of the Climate Crisis, Pandemics, Social Inequality, and the Neo-Liberal System. During the last one hundred years, our planet has faced four major pandemics, the last one in 2009, plus several epidemics.
- 1918-1920 Spanish Flu (H1N1), which infected around 500 million people worldwide and resulted in around 50 million deaths
- 1957-1958 Asian Flu (H2N2), which resulted in around 1.1 million deaths
- 1968 Hong Kong Flu (H3N2), which resulted in around 1 million deaths
- 2002-2003 SARS epidemic, confirmed 8096 cases and 774 deaths
- 2009-2010 Swine Flu (H1N1), which infected between 700 million and 1.4 billion and resulted in around 201,200 deaths
- 2012 MERS-CoV epidemic
- 2013 Ebola epidemic
Pandemics are one of the four humanitarian emergencies that our society suffers. In the first introductory lecture to the postgraduate Master we discuss these as being:
- Natural/Environmental Emergencies (earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, droughts, etc.)
- Human-Induced Emergencies (armed conflict, political conflict, slums, etc.)
- The Climate Crisis (the result of a combination of human and natural forces)
- Health/Medical Emergencies (pandemics, epidemics, etc.)
In this introduction of the Master, though, we suggested that architects and planners do not have a significant role to play in health emergencies like pandemics, because they are a matter of medicine. Today, experiencing the coronavirus pandemic, we are forced to reconsider that position. This current pandemic is challenging our typical social behavior, severely impacting our citizen organizations, our connection to public space, our right to gather, and our freedom of movement, all principles of a free and open society like pillars of the Western democracy. We deeply believe that it is part of our academic and professional responsibility to contribute serious responses to the new challenges of our society. Coronavirus is one of them.
The quick methodology that we used for this text is:
- Collect data and articles that have appeared in recent weeks
- Develop a series of questions on the topic
- Observe the community’s behavior and response
- Explore and propose some architectural ideas that could become a contribution to mitigation of the next pandemic
(This is work in progress, then we will present only part of this research)
DATA & ARTICLES
Over the past few weeks, hundreds of texts, articles, and scientific documents have appeared across the world to discuss this pandemic. We have selected some of them in relation to the impact that they can have on architectural and planning strategies.
How should Architects and Planners respond to the extreme situation of a global pandemic?
How can we rebuild a new dense urban society that is better protected from these threats which are occurring more frequently? How can we revise our existing cities to better protect their inhabitants? Or, should we abandon urbanism, consider it an unsafe model for human settlement, and return to a more rural or dispersed model of society? Is that even possible with the current population?
How should our schools, hospitals, airports, mass transportation, and other public institutions be reimagined in order to decrease the propagation of a pandemic virus like this one?
If we follow the thesis of the Italian architect Eleonora Carrano and the Korean-born German philosopher Byung-Chul Han, then humanitarian emergencies will occur each time more frequently and will become a part of our everyday life in the very near future. If true, will we begin to acclimate to a kind of permanent state of emergency, will this become our new normal, the new status quo? How would the cities and spaces in this kind of a society be designed and built? What kind of new social order would this permanent state of emergency require?
Could (and should) we imagine a dense urban society that is able to rapidly subdivide into small isolated human groups or urban clusters with a high level of self-sufficiency and a high level of dependence on global communication networks? Could we imagine a model like this that would be acceptable or even preferable to our current one?
How can Architecture and Planning defend democracy while supporting the ability to quickly and effectively subdivide into small isolated social groups in times of emergency?
Can a building help to protect its inhabitants from illness, epidemics, and pandemics? Is this an issue of materials, space planning, heating, cooling, and ventilation, or…?
How can we, as a society, protect people without homes, the homeless, migrants, and displaced persons during this kind of an emergency?
How can a middle-class family with two kids living in a 50m2 social housing unit respond to a month (or more) of social isolation in a time of high anxiety and stress? This new model of domestic life is one dramatically different from that which most are accustomed to. We have read that domestic abuse has dramatically increased in several countries, such as Spain and Italy.
How will people that live alone react to the social isolation required to combat this health emergency? In some countries such as Sweden or Denmark, this includes more than a third of the population. What risks are associated with this kind of isolation and what can be done to mitigate those risks?
Will this pandemic support the ideas of a kind of ‘pure’ society, afraid of difference, divided into homogenous clusters, and celebrating the advantages of a segmented and closed society? Will it lead to an increase in hate crimes, racism, nativism, and anti-immigrant violence and rhetoric? Will political parties that represent and champion these views see a rise in strength and popularity? Will this emergency challenge or promote the more conservative models of Western democracy which promote extreme individualism, privacy, and isolationism?
Will we allow a powerful state to control and define our movements, social relations, freedom of speech, and more if it means we will be better prepared to respond to future emergencies?
What strengths and weaknesses of each political system are exposed by an emergency like this? Are authoritarian regimes able to act faster and more effectively than traditional democracies in response to an emergency of this kind?
Should free and open societies accept and even enable a quick suspension of some freedoms without consent to be applied in extreme situations such as pandemics? Should a kind of “exception state” be created for this purpose? Would this kind of an exception be compatible with Western values? If so, where should the line be drawn? Could a similar suspension be justified to respond to a climate crisis, a social conflict, or some other unforeseen emergency?
If such suspensions are acceptable, can we have a temporary democracy, which can shift to become a kind of “authoritarian democracy” on behalf of our survival? What kinds of checks could be implemented in advance to protect citizens and democracy itself from the abuse of this kind of expansive power? Is the trade-off worth the risk?
Is the closure of national borders an effective way to fight the spread of a pandemic virus, especially in our globalized society? Or is a methodology that relies more heavily on information and technology more effective, as, it could be argued, has been demonstrated by a number of Asian countries? Did the European Union fail by keeping the borders of the
Schengen Area open during this emergency? What could justify the temporary closure of such borders?
In nations where private healthcare is the primary (or preferred) option, should the private system be able to be made public during a major health emergency? In some countries, such as Chile, the health system is mainly private due to political beliefs, but in a time of pandemic is the state which rescue and support the population. Does such an emergency call into question a reliance on private healthcare systems more broadly?
What will happen when the pandemic spreads to lesser developed regions? Will the traditional international cooperation aid structure remain in place to support those impacted? Will it have the capacity, especially as wealthier nations struggle to meet their own needs?
If we trust in human capacity to learn and adapt quickly, maybe we can look to places like Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and even South Korea for a possible example and lessons to be learned. The high level of preparedness and ability to quickly and effectively respond to this pandemic may be connected to recent experience with the 2002-2003 SARS outbreak.
Should we rethink the function and role of “the public” passing from the national state to a kind global political scale supranational, as the only guarantee to defend the population, nature, and planet?
Should we create a more agile and flexible society that can quickly and easily move from open urbanism to closed urbanism? From democracy to restricted and temporary but functional authoritarianism? From community to individualism? From collectivism to isolationism? And then back again?
In strange and challenging times like this one, we are forced to move in opposition to our beliefs for a relatively short period of time in order to preserve life and our society as a whole in the long term. In this moment then, could typically antagonistic concepts to democracy like isolationism, individualism, and segregation come to represent the highest expression of collectivism?
If a social system allows pollution, starvation, and violence to take place and to spread, should we keep it? If maintaining that system is in conflict with stopping the spread of a pandemic, as we are witnessing now, is it not a flawed system? If these conditions are the result of the ways in which that society shares its resources, production, labor, and distribution, should we not question the merits of that approach? In truth, to doubt the system on these characteristics is to doubt the system at its core, which is economics. In consequence, could we dare to question this Neo-Liberal system and its humanist values?
We can suggest small or big changes for the public and domestic spaces, and we can assume that people and societies will adapt. However, these might be only temporary changes until the next unknown disaster takes place and asks for a different change. Could we allow ourselves to re-think the model of our societies and their structure? Could temporary
changes to solve the structural problems of our modern society persist beyond the crisis? Could we achieve a new human focus, with a new socio-economical model that is more healthy, resilient, and equal?
The way that governments and politicians seem to be addressing this pandemic resembles the approach that many of these same leaders have taken in their response to the Climate Crisis. Governments blame individuals and neighbors blame each other for breaking rules or not doing enough to combat each crisis. Governments and corporations, who possess the power to have a greater impact, consistently shirk all responsibility and make every effort to place that responsibility on citizens who, at an individual scale, have very little power to address these emergencies alone. It is strange when we are made to feel guilty for the actions taken against our personal beliefs, for participating in a system that most of us did not create and many do not support. Every day we are made to feel guilty when we purchase anything made of plastic, and yet everything is covered in plastic, it is nearly unavoidable. We are told that if we stop buying plastic then they will stop making it. Perhaps this is true, but it places the responsibility on the individual alone. Why do the supporters of the neoliberal order not feel guilty?
IDEAS FROM ARCHITECTURE AND PLANNING FOR THE NEXT PANDEMIC
ELASTIC CITY. We could create a kind of “elastic city,” one that would respond to these phenomena. On one hand, a city that is able to open its borders to everyone in moments of peace and prosperity. On the other hand, that same city should be able to close its borders and fragment itself into small isolated self-dependent clusters during the time of a health emergency, civil war, or climate conflict.
DISTRIBUTED URBANISM. We could propose a kind of “distributed urbanism,” where, through measures of planning, the city is distributed between its inhabitants across both time and space. This concept of ‘distributed’ is loosely adapted from Paul Baran’s 1962 “On Distributed Communications Networks.” Areas of the city are made to be accessible only to certain people at certain times of the day, and on certain days of the week or month. It could also distribute people across clusters of our “elastic city.” In this way, we could work to alleviate some of the everyday challenges of rush hour traffic or mass transit congestion, crowded grocery stores after office hours end, or long lines at lunch counters in central business districts. More importantly, though, this kind of distribution could drastically improve a city’s resilience during a pandemic by reducing contact and interaction to slow spread or contamination.
The “elastic city” is concerned with distribution and closeness of space. But it also suggests a flexibility for that closeness to shift to respond to conditions. “distributed urbanism” is concerned more specifically with time, and the division of the city across available hours for different social or demographic clusters.
URBAN CLUSTERS. If we divide the city into watertight, self-dependent clusters, could we not have contaminated clusters directly beside uncontaminated clusters? Each cluster’s area may be closed to enter or exit, but inside of each, life could continue as close to normal.
Social life could be maintained. There could be different levels of urban cluster according to the cultural characteristics of each city.
SMALL MOBILE HOSPITALS. During a pandemic, our existing healthcare infrastructure is strained beyond capacity. In large centralized hospitals it may also be difficult to contain the spread of the virus. Perhaps, for situations like this, smaller medical facilities distributed around the city, or even mobile facilities, may be more appropriate. In densely populated urban areas, could we imagine a healthcare system that runs in train cars on tracks parallel to our underground subway systems? Would it make more sense to have modular care units that are easily transported and deployed to areas of need? These could be deployed in a centralized configuration during certain more focused emergencies or deployed more sporadically, as might be more appropriate during a pandemic emergency. In Denmark, for example, should we now question the strategy of reducing the number of small hospitals to concentrate the healthcare system into a few large facilities?
In the United States, there are currently two 1,000 bed military hospital ships, one on each coast, that are being deployed to New York and California to help support the overburdened healthcare systems. With tourism on hold, could we use a few of the empty cruise ships with thousands of empty beds in a similar manner? How quickly and easily could a cruise ship be adapted to serve as a floating hospital that could be dispatched to wherever needed?
PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS + SERVICES. In many places, such as New York City, there is a major dilemma in closing some of the more vital public elements of our civil society in order to slow the spread of the virus. One important example is the public schools. In many places, public schools provide critical free daycare so parents who work away from the home can do so without worrying about daycare. For many, public schools also provide meals that might not otherwise be available. For many homeless children, public schools may be the only place they have to bathe. Without daycare, meals, or a place to bathe, countless of society’s most vulnerable children are put at great risk when public schools are closed. As countless schools and universities transition to virtual learning models and online classes, it is also the most vulnerable students, often without access to the internet at home, who are most likely to be deprived of access to education.
In many cases, healthcare workers who are also parents, must choose between staying home to care for their children who are out of school or seek alternative daycare options, which may simply not be available during a pandemic. This may force some healthcare workers to step away from providing their critical services in our time of need. In many places, the public transportation systems must continue to run in order to provide these same healthcare and medical workers transportation to their place of work. This can endanger those who keep these transportation systems running, but it also calls into question our urban conditions that often require commuting great distances, where a subway or bus ride cannot easily be replaced by a walk or a bicycle ride.
So, what can be done? As is often the case, this is a question of redistributing burdens, supply and demand economics. Across the world we have countless people working from home, because they can do their jobs on a laptop with an internet connection and a phone. So, why could the burden of childcare not be redistributed to neighbors, friends, families? Obviously, it is not that simple. Who can stay home? Majority white collar workers with a higher income, living in wealthier neighborhoods, with fewer children. Who still needs to work? Healthcare workers, workers who are not able to work from home, workers who would lose their jobs if they do not continue to show up, those without paid sick leave, etc. In other words, those already most vulnerable to a decrease in wages or a lost job, those with limited savings.
Tomás Saraceno, In Orbit, 2013, permanent installation in Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, K21 Ständehaus, Düsseldorf, photo Line Kjær.
“Pandemics prey on this relentlessly. They are anti-urban. They exploit our impulse to congregate. And our response so far — social distancing — not only runs up against our fundamental desires to interact, but also against the way we have built our cities and plazas, subways and skyscrapers. They are all designed to be occupied and animated collectively. For many urban systems to work properly, density is the goal, not the enemy.”
NYTimes / Can City Life Survive Coronavirus?
In many ways, pandemics are in conflict with so much of our way of life and our social structure. They are anti-urban, anti-democratic, anti-social, and anti-global. They require us to completely go against our instincts and our conditioning in order to survive and to protect our communities. Will this collective global experience of the pandemic drastically impact our trend toward urbanization? Will it push us ever faster and deeper into our obsession with and our reliance on technology? Will we become a less social people in the traditional sense as our social lives transition away from the physical and toward the virtual? Though humanity will, of course, survive this pandemic, will our current way of life?
From a spatial perspective, this pandemic acts in the opposite way to other humanitarian emergencies where we are more likely to respond by setting up shelters or collective distribution centers. Here, it is the opposite. To respond by “centralizing,” is to endanger ourselves and put more people at risk. After a hurricane or a flood, we might take over a sports arena and lay out thousands of beds to provide those temporarily displaced with a place to sleep. In New York City, it has been discussed that for many, one of the last emergencies in memory is 9/11. How strange it is that we cannot respond in the way we are accustomed to after a crisis like that. Then the instinct is to rally together, to lean on the community, to gather in churches and bars and living rooms to remember who we are, to grieve and to process. In these types of emergencies, there is the uniting sentiment to carry on. “If we stop everything, then we are defeated.” Here, in the case of a pandemic, if we DON’T stop everything, then the virus will win.
In so many ways, we are being deprived of the community connections that we typically rely on to help us to heal, recover, and proceed. So, we have to pause everything, we have to separate and isolate. And in architecture, as in society, this is the opposite of what we are used to doing in our responses to major emergencies.
“The Childhood of Ivan” by Andrei Tarkovski 1962. Drawing by Jorge Lobos 1998
PHYSICAL DISTANCING. We have identified a major issue with the term “social distancing,” which has quickly become a way of life for a majority of the planet’s inhabitants in a very short time. There is nothing about what this condition requires that feels “social.” Perhaps it could be “physical distancing,” or something else, but to call this distancing social feels unnatural. During this challenging time, we should do everything we can to preserve and foster our social lives. This distancing, that the pandemic requires of us, is a spatial condition and a physical act. If it is a social act, it is an anti-social one.
In the Master Emergency + Resilience, we say that a humanitarian disaster is a kind of forced urban test for the society where the catastrophe breaks the tacit rules of a city and a citizenship. We can observe what works and what does not work in order to be prepared for the next emergency. This pandemic could actually be seen as a kind of ‘rehearsal,’ on a global scale, for the next emergency that will affect almost every country around the world. For us, the next global crisis has already begun and will inevitably last for much longer and claim many more lives. Now we are, of course, speaking about the Climate Crisis.
As a global community, we are still not quite seeing it as one singular and urgent issue in the way we are able to see the pandemic due to its speed and the clarity of a binary medical test. For now, we are experiencing the effects of climate change in a more ‘siloed’ way. A flood occurs here, a wildfire spreads there, a hurricane or cyclone makes landfall over there, desertification spreads somewhere else. For the pandemic, we have charts and maps and graphs that we are seeing across every major news publication everyday quantifying the impact of the virus with extreme (if somewhat illusory) precision. Now imagine if we did the same to track the impact of the Climate Crisis. Already the numbers would be so much greater than those of the pandemic and yet we rarely compile them in this way.
SPATIAL IMPLICATIONS. A way to rethink the city is to study how much empty space we have per hour, and how much we could do if we were to replan the use of those spaces. For instance, in the moment of a humanitarian emergency we have very different needs for space than we do typically. Understanding what we have and what can be easily reassigned could be incredibly useful. As we discussed in relation to hospitals, we have thousands of empty beds across cruise ships. In a time of crisis, tourism is one of the first industries to be reduced. Hotels could also become hospitals, quarantine centers, or shelters. Restaurants could become community kitchens and food distribution centers, as has been demonstrated by celebrity chef José Andrés in Washington, DC during this pandemic, and in Puerto Rico after Hurricane María. What about the countless offices across our cities that are lying vacant?
There are already numerous examples of this logic being applied in the tourism sector and the sharing economy. Before Airbnb, apartments were left empty when owners or renters went on holiday, now they are a source of income for families. Before companies like Spacious and Kettlespace, many restaurants sat vacant until dinnertime. Now they provide beautiful informal office spaces throughout the day for freelancers and the transient workforce.
Using spaces more efficiently is not only a more environmentally responsible thing to do, it is more cost effective for the occupants. This strategy requires a more flexible approach to space planning, and ownership, but offers limitless opportunities. We have so much space available that is used relatively infrequently. Especially in wealthier countries, maybe we do not need to continue building additional square meters of interior space to fuel an active economy, maybe we should decrease our building capacity and reuse the empty buildings we already have and explore assigning the vacant hours in the buildings that are underutilized. It is a way to protect our planet.
Simon Hjermind Jensen, BIOTOPE, Copenhagen, 2018. Building “climates” with bees and plants. Photo: SHJ Works
BALCONIES. In the context of the pandemic, with strict social-distancing measures in place, balconies can have a very important role in our social lives. In Italy we all see how these spaces, often neglected, have evolved into an essential tool to communicate with the outside world and to create a sense of community while maintaining social distances. They exist in a kind of twilight zone between the private and the social sphere. In both Italy and Spain, organic examples have appeared where citizens are singing and playing music from their balconies, often creating a shared social experience. Across the world, balconies have been used as venues like a stadium for groups of people to gather to cheer and applaud the healthcare workers, first responders, and other essential workers who continue to keep our society running through these difficult times.
On a wider scale, we should give some consideration to leisure and cultural activities for which “passage spaces” are essential. In the days of physical distancing we should maintain these activities in a way that doesn’t necessarily imply a human contact. Relating to the idea of “cultural mobility”, we could project movies on building facades, with people watching from their balconies and windows. The windows of closed shops and businesses could become temporary galleries and exhibition spaces, so that people can admire the works of art while traveling to visit the grocery store or complete other essential activities permitted under isolation.
PARKS. With large cross sections of our societies practicing social-distancing, spending time in the home like never before, there is a built-up need for time in the outdoors, for communion somehow with nature. This very natural and human need has resulted in a common phenomenon in several countries of crowded parks and public spaces, especially on weekends, the time typically associated with such kinds of leisure activities. While governments have moved to lockdown some parks, playgrounds, and other public spaces, the need is not being fulfilled. One solution fits into the concept of “distributed urbanism” previously discussed and proposes a more coordinated sharing of the park, square, or garden according to a schedule of hours and days to avoid any congestion or overcrowding. Another option, which has been explored in New York City involves the closure of some smaller residential streets in the absence of typical automobile traffic in order to expand the available public space.
GREEN ROOFS. Accessible green roofs should be an option in each building to provide a distributed natural space for social life that is primarily protected from the outside. This could help expand the area available to families sharing cramped urban living conditions and could help the psychological life of the people and give a free space for children.
In New York City, a new Green Law went into effect in November 2019 requiring that all new roofs, constructed for new or even existing buildings, receive photovoltaic solar panels or a planted green roof. But we could propose taking this a step further. Every new roof should be accessible and legal to occupy safely as part of our social life requirements. It could be our collective social green space in an emergency, to provide access to the air and space and ‘nature’ that we need and crave to maintain our health and mental well-being. For larger buildings, occupancy of the green roof could be distributed by time in a way to keep contact down. In the case of an emergency like a pandemic, such spaces could become a vital resource.
URBAN TO RURAL REVERSION. It is no longer possible to view a city according to the classic definition and in a binary way, as urban and rural or city/town and country. We are observing a phenomenon that can be understood as the urbanization of the rural through new technological tools, lifestyles, and also physical forms from the art world and urban production, which are moving toward the natural landscape.
In the reverse, the city has initiated a process of ruralization, because part of the society is yearning for insertion of a soft wild presence of nature into the city. We see it through greenhouses, urban agriculture, kitchen gardens, streams, water, green roofs, farmer’s markets, and the potted plants that fill our homes. However, this is often a shallow, if romantic, vision for improving the connection between the city and nature, and it is not enough. It is likely not enough for us, as we are nature being ourselves. But it is certainly not enough for the planet itself. Urgent moments like this remind us of the consequences of our cities’ unbalanced relationships with the natural environment. The looming Climate Crisis, which hits us every time with more frequent humanitarian catastrophes, is a powerful expression of nature’s capacity to transform, will inevitably disrupt these relationships and reshape our cities, and more broadly our society.
Simon Hjermind Jensen, BIOTOPE, Copenhagen, 2018. Photo: SHJ Works “Biotope” is a project in Copenhagen 2018 to 2021. In Greek bios means “life” and topos means “place”. It is an experiment with a microcosm of plants and insects at an exposed and harsh place in the city
IS THIS THE FUTURE THAT WE WANT?
These last words are an epilogue of this text, but for us, this investigation has only just begun. Our world is an open question. At this moment, possibly a majority of the world’s population is united by this shared experience of crisis. And through this shared experience, we are, in a way, taking part in a kind of social experiment at a scale never before conceived. We have seen a glimpse of a possible future and we are never going back from here. The question is, what will we learn from this civilization crisis? And, the most important, is this the future that we would have for ourselves and for our children?
We are experiencing something surreal, even dystopian, that we have used to observe through art, literature, cinema, and other forms of speculative imagining. Today, though, we are living it, if only for some finite period of time. The cinema fantasies of the 20th Century were preoccupied by an imagined collapse of the post-nuclear society. In José Saramago’s 1995 “Essay of Blindness,” he envisioned a world divided into two parallel societies and cities: one of the blind and one of the seeing. Both visions could be closer to what we experience today.
The impending Climate Crisis and the increasing frequency of pandemics and humanitarian emergencies could be reasons for a new social order. These are the contemporary threats for humankind, and we should act in consequence as humans have done throughout their existence. Perhaps we should observe the artist Simon Hiermind Jensen who calls for building climates instead of buildings, or the ‘Biospheres’ of Tomás Saraceno which imagine an undesired future with people in transparent self-sufficient bubbles, where we, the human beings, could develop our isolated hygiene and aseptic lives.
COULD WE DARE TO REDRAW OUR ETHICAL PRINCIPLES AND MORAL VALUES?
Even a minor shift could threaten to disrupt the fragile balance between society and nature and result in complete catastrophe: the collapse of our known social order, as well as our governing moral and ethical principles. Several articles from around the world are taking on this theme in the past weeks. Though there are many, these are a few examples:
“Contre les pandémies, l’écologie” by Sonia Shah for Le Monde Diplomatique
“We’re not going back to normal” by Gideon Lichfield for MIT Technology Review
“Coronavirus: ‘Nature is sending us a message’, says UN environment chief” by Damian Carrington for The Guardian
“La emergencia viral y el mundo de mañana” by Byung-Chul Han in El País
In consequence, we propose to use one of the primary values of Art and Architecture: the capacity to imagine a vision of the future. But, how can architects, artists, and planners respond to a new social order that we still do not know? Perhaps, and with a conviction strengthened by the urgency of this moment, we should have the courage to re-think our social structure and life models to propose a new system that could give us another navigation route through science, philosophy, and human rights like axis of a more delicate balance between nature and society.
Perhaps we should dare to redraw our ethical principles and moral values.
Postgraduate Master Emergency & Resilience
University of Venice IUAV
University of Sassari UNISS
Benno Albretch, Director of Postgraduate school IUAV Italy
Mario Lupano, Director of Postgraduate Master Programs IUAV, Italy
Eleonora Carrano, Critic of architecture, Italy
Marie-Helene Contal, Director Dpt. Cultural Development, Cité de l’Architecture & du Patrimoine, Paris, France
Peder Duelund, former Director Institute of housing & planning KADK Denmark
Peter Kjær, Director of research center COPE University of Copenhagen Denmark
Ciro Pirondi, Brazil, former Director Escola da Cidade Sao Paulo
Mathias Spaliviero, Kenya, Director UN-Habitat Africa
Anne Le Court, Head of asylum Department Red Cross Denmark
Arne Vagen, former Director Department of Emergency Red Cross Denmark
Achim Förster, Germany, Lawyer and Professor Wuerzburg University
Wesam Asali, Syria, architect PhD Cambridge University
Justin Paul Ware, USA, architect
Lemma Al Ghanem, USA-Syria, architect
Paola Faro, Italy, architect
Eirini Grigoriadou, Greece-UK, architect
Nuria Bernal, Spain-England, architect
Selene Angelone, Italy-Kenya, UN- Habitat consulting
Jorge Lobos, Chile, professor UNISS & Founder of “Architecture & Human Rights” ARCH+H.R.
Justin Paul Ware, USA
Tomás Saraceno installation at SFMoMA in San Francisco, 2017
Photo: Justin Paul Ware
Tomás Saraceno, In Orbit, 2013, permanent installation in Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, K21 Ständehaus, Düsseldorf Photo: Line Kjær
Simon Hjermind Jensen, BIOTOPE, Copenhagen, 2018 Photo: SHJ Works
“The Childhood of Ivan” by Andrei Tarkovski 1962 Drawing by Jorge Lobos 1998