Cli­mate, ar­chi­tec­ture and phi­los­o­phy

The cli­mate is driv­ing a new di­a­logue be­tween ar­chi­tec­ture and the hu­man sci­ences

Domus - - CONTENTS - Edited by Philippe Rahm

Even when cer­tain ar­chi­tects prac­tise it un­know­ingly, all ar­chi­tec­tural works are part of a more gen­eral in­tel­lec­tual de­bate that takes place in con­junc­tion with other dis­ci­plines: phi­los­o­phy, so­ci­ol­ogy, an­thro­pol­ogy, eco­nom­ics and pol­i­tics. The ex­change is two-way. The hu­man sci­ences in­flu­ence ar­chi­tec­ture as much as it in­flu­ences them. At cer­tain en­light­ened mo­ments in his­tory, the links be­tween ar­chi­tec­ture and other dis­ci­plines be­come more fruit­ful and closer, gen­er­at­ing a ver­i­ta­ble rev­o­lu­tion of ideas that en­gen­ders a new style, a new stage in the his­tory of ar­chi­tec­ture. This was the case in the 1960s when ar­chi­tects such as Man­fredo Ta­furi in­te­grated the crit­i­cal think­ing of Roland Barthes and Michel Fou­cault into the ar­chi­tec­tural de­bate against moder­nity, end­ing with Post-Mod­ernism. It was the case when Peter Eisen­man and Bernard Tschumi en­gaged in con­ver­sa­tion with the French philoso­pher Jac­ques Der­rida, to­gether in­vent­ing De­con­struc­tivist Ar­chi­tec­ture. To­day, a new stage in the in­tel­lec­tual de­bate be­tween ar­chi­tec­ture and phi­los­o­phy has be­gun, driven by the prob­lems of cli­mate change. The pi­o­neers are cer­tainly the Amer­i­can an­thro­pol­o­gist Jared Di­a­mond and the Ger­man philoso­pher Peter Slo­ter­dijk. The for­mer, with his book Guns, Germs, and Steel, pub­lished in 1997, rein­tro­duced the phys­i­cal

world, cli­mate and viruses as es­sen­tial pa­ram­e­ters ex­plain­ing the course of hu­man his­tory, pre­vi­ously stud­ied only via so­cial, po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic is­sues. The lat­ter with his Spheres tril­ogy, writ­ten be­tween 1998 and 2004, in­tro­duced the at­mos­phere and its de­sign as one of the ma­jor is­sues of hu­man­ity. The French an­thro­pol­o­gist Bruno La­tour played a cru­cial role in 2004 with his ar­ti­cle Why Has Cri­tique Run Out of Steam?, re-eval­u­at­ing the no­tion of sci­en­tific ob­jec­tiv­ity and truth ver­sus con­spir­acy the­o­ries com­ing from the crit­i­cal think­ing that cast doubt on the re­al­ity of the global warm­ing phe­nom­e­non. To­day, philoso­phers such as Mau­r­izio Fer­raris, with his 2012 Man­i­festo of New Re­al­ism, par­tic­i­pate in the growth of a new trend in the dis­ci­pline, some­times called Post-Crit­i­cal Re­al­ism, New or Neo Ma­te­ri­al­ism (The Rise of Re­al­ism 2017 by Manuel De­landa) or the Non­hu­man Turn (Richard Grusin, 2015) that in­crease the role of the non­hu­man world (ge­ol­ogy, cli­mate, an­i­mal, virus) in the course of hu­man his­tory. Gillen D’Arcy Wood ex­plain­ing how the ex­plo­sion of a vol­cano in 1815 in­flu­enced the ur­ban plan­ning of the 19th cen­tury and Emanuele Coc­cia in his 2016 book La vie des plantes, de­scrib­ing how hu­mans have ne­glected plants, are re­con­nect­ing the hu­man and phys­i­cal sci­ences. The di­a­logue be­tween ar­chi­tec­ture and these new hu­man sci­ences should be fruit­ful in the com­ing years in a move­ment defin­ing the man­ners of ex­is­tence and con­struc­tion in the An­thro­pocene epoch while to­gether we find so­lu­tions for the fu­ture.

These pages: the cov­ers of the books men­tioned by Philippe Rahm. Top, from left: Bub­bles by Peter Slo­ter­dijk (Semio­texte); La vie des plants by Emanuele Coc­cia (Payot&Ri­vages, soon to be pub­lished in English by Polity Press); Les délices du feu by Olivier Jan­dot (Édi­tions Champ Val­lon); The Rise of Re­al­ism by Manuel De­landa and Gra­ham Har­man (Polity Press). Op­po­site page, from left: The Year With­out Sum­mer: 1816 by Wil­liam K. Klinga­man and Ni­cholas P. Klinga­man (St. Martin’s Press); Fac­ing Gaia by Bruno La­tour (Polity Press); In­tro­duc­tion to new re­al­ism by Mau­r­izio Fer­raris (Blooms­bury)

Philippe Rahm (Pully, 1967) is a Swiss ar­chi­tect based in Paris. His most re­cent project is the Cen­tral Park in Taichung, Tai­wan, that will open to the pub­lic in Au­gust 2018.

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