When I first arrived in Switzerland I had a group of friends who were also trainees in the same office as me and we used to drive around the country, visiting four precious masterworks of the history of architecture a day, making fun at all the effort and dutilness we saw in those buildings. We were so restless and informed that none of those things impressed us. If the guide we’d bought pointed at the spired cathedral we would look at the bus stop instead. We were masters at finding the “real masterpieces”. Once, as we were sitting in the café of a museum we had just metaphysically teared apart, one of us comes up with a strange idea: architecture, in a sense, doesn’t need us. Caves, as long as they have the proper dimensions, are basically dwellings. A crevice in a meteorite heading towards the Earth can be architecture; just no one has seen it yet.
Architecture without us.
Of course, this isn’t big news.
But thinking about a building as something that meets a visual or geometrical criterion rather than something that is built purposefully for inhabitation broadens our sense of our surroundings. We become space-hunters rather than space-makers.
Next Up: Architecture Without Us #2 – The Revenge of The Mold
All images credited to Kai Fagerström for National Geographic Magazine