20 September 2006

artkrush 41 / boeri

Check out the new issue of Artkrush (their third architecture issue) - there's an interesting interview with Stefano Boeri (of Boeri Studio, Multiplicity, and editor of Domus) in which the Italian architect talks about some of his myriad research endeavors throughout the globe. I've always had a few misgivings about Boeri's methodology -- which essentially consists of obsessive and exhaustive documentation of super-local conditions -- as it walks the fine line between studied observation and sensationalist exploitation (dare I say exoticization). While I know that Boeri's intentions are of course not to exoticize or exploit, and I appreciate his rigorous explorations of emergent urban conditions, there is always a certain ambiguity in my mind about who is actually benefitting or profiting from the research.

Regardless -- the interview is pretty interesting. In relation to my own concerns, I found this excerpt on Boeri's intentions particularly compelling:

I believe that the act of observing, describing, and interpreting the built environment helps us understand the community we inhabit. And I believe that the landscape — the territory continually defined by our movements, reinvented by our desires, punctuated by what we build — is an excellent metaphor for our society. The local is a treasure chest rich in details and clues that tell us about the forces that permeate our daily lives, forces that at times are manifest in the space that surrounds us, perhaps just for a few instants, like footsteps in the snow. Architecture's political dimension is not to be found in the labels we attach to our projects, nor in our magniloquent political declarations; rather, it lies in the production of useful and critical knowledge about the world that surrounds us — knowledge that is useful because it is critical.
I also am intrigued by Boeri's interpretation of borders and boundaries as potential sites for intervention and action: "I try to conceive of boundaries as the sensors of contemporary world dynamics — dynamic 'devices,' which vibrate with the energy and resistance that drive current history." Since it seems that the world we live in is increasingly defined by different degrees of boundaries and "devices" of separation, it makes sense to pursue architectural strategies that subvert and redirect these divisive phenomena towards a more productive purpose. The question is: how?

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