Jury President: Critical Discourses | Sarah Robinson (USA/ITA)

The 3rd edition of the Bucharest Triennale East Centric Architecture will take place in October, 7th-20th, 2019. The Triennale is organised by the Arhitext Design Foundation, editor of the Arhitext magazine, in partnership with the

The 3rd edition of the Bucharest Triennale East Centric Architecture will take place in October, 7th-20th, 2019. The Triennale is organised by the Arhitext Design Foundation, editor of the Arhitext magazine, in partnership with the Romanian Order of Architects, the Ion Mincu University of Architecture and Urbanism, the Union of Romanian Architects and the Brâncovan Palaces Cultural Center of Mogoșoaia. The main topic of this edition, HOME|any|more|?, proposes an interrogative approach of the possibility of being at home in today’s world.

The Jury President of the Critical Discourses Essay contest, Sarah Robinson, the author of Nesting: Body, Dwelling, Mind, is one of the main speakers of the Bucharest Triennale. We invite you to read her thoughts about home below: 

 

Whether forced from home or having left it freely, never in the history of the world have so many people lived outside of their birth country as they do now. Displacement is now commonplace. Yet not so long ago, people were known by their roots – before being named after our fathers we were named after our place of birth – that place was so important in forming your identity that it named you. The mutuality between person and place was so self-evident as not be questioned.

Now we can be wherever, and practically live wherever we want. Our freedom is justifiably one of our greatest sources of pride. Yet this sense of freedom conflicts with our equally deep need for refuge and for the ties that bind us to certain places, to those sacred places we can call home.

Even freedom has its limits—“Each living being can become healthy, strong and fertile within a horizon,” as Nietzsche reminds us. Yet this boundary, the reality of the limit, is something we cannot quite square with. Born of matter, we forever yearn to transcend it; our frontier is always on the move—we are species, after all, who seriously considers colonizing outer space.

Our architecture concretizes this sense of yearning, yet too often our buildings and cities rather than fostering a sense of belonging, serve to reinforce our sense of alienation and dysfunction. Rootlessness may be our paradigmatic modern condition, but homesickness and homelessness are its most accurate portrait. Every animal has a home, a habitat on which its very life depends. Animal and habitat are understood together as an extended organism dwelling together in interdependence. What makes us think we human animals are somehow exempt from this existential mandate?

Home speaks to our vulnerability, our nascent interdependence, threatens our sense of indomitability and separateness. Home is a knot of deep-seated oppositions – causing us to question the importance of roots versus freedom, the local versus universal, tradition versus innovation, continuity versus change, feminine versus masculine, the social versus the personal, nature versus culture, prospect versus refuge, the wide open window versus the sheltering walls. Exploring the meaning of home is an opportunity to consider these concerns not as irreconcilable oppositions but as energizing polarities, enriching our understanding of how architecture can nurture a sense of belonging and create places that truly deserve to be called home.

 

 

Sarah Robinson is an architect practicing in San Francisco and Italy. She holds degrees in Philosophy with honors from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of Fribourg in Switzerland and an M.Arch from Taliesin, the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, where she served as the founding president of the Board of Trustees. She has written Nesting: Body, Dwelling, Mind in Architecture: Neuroscience, Embodiment and the Future of Design, with Juhani Pallasmaa and the forthcoming book, Home is Love, in addition to numerous literary and critical essays. She cofounded and edits the journal Intertwining and teaches in the NAAD program at IUAV in Venice.   

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