Architecture When the Time Comes (abstract)
Architecture is poised—uniquely so, and perhaps as never before—to confront the most recalcitrant and pressingly critical issues of our time. Among them, war. The urgency with which it is called upon, both in the course of war and in its aftermath, to respond to the human and material plight that we witness daily and that we suspect is unparalleled in history cannot be understated. What also cannot be understated is the need for architecture to respond not precipitously with the hurried abandon and unrestraint characteristic of postwar reconstructive campaigns, but with deliberation and thoughtful dispatch. Before committing, therefore, to the awesome responsibility and task of reconstructing architectural ecosystems wrecked by protracted political and military conflict, architects must develop viable and culturally sensitive strategies for long-term, postwar reconstruction, and equally viable and culturally sensitive strategies to resolve crises of a more direct nature during the course of war and in its immediate aftermath. I argue that without the prior development and elaboration of open reconstructive strategies, architecture risks re-traumatizing and further bewildering the already traumatized and bewildered. The proposal urges architects to resist falling upon well-worn, materially and culturally unbound forms and practices, or upon invented and stylized ones that bear only the external and foreign signature. Alternatively, it is within material and cultural matrices—under erasure as they may be—that the imperatives, directives, and suggestive potential of responsive design practices and production are to be discovered. It is there that embedded, materially and culturally bound tectonics awaken.