Climax Change!

Page 24

9. One Thousand Pathways

Climax Change!

Pedro Gadanho

If you usually surf the news of the day you have already captured the scent of the latest and truly urban trend. Be it in the first, the second, or the third world, eco-autarchic towers are being devised for the thousands, and sections of cities themselves are being developed as huge private condos for the hundreds of thousands. There they are: efficient huge buildings and whole city slices growing one after the other, from the deserts of Dubai to the dense grids of Western and Eastern metropolises — as if suddenly stepping out of forgotten futuristic scenarios onto the dirty realism of a gritty, homogenised worldscape. Even amidst apparent financial arrest, pieces of a technological utopia are rising around us to enter the imagination of the everyday banal. What had been once restricted to specialised visionaries is now the subject of Guinness World Records and a matter of gospel TV. Emphatic documentaries feed us with the amazing features and the heroic characters behind accomplishments in height, dimension and efficiency. But as skyscrapers bloom and new instant cities flourish, one may sometimes wonder what will be the ultimate destiny of these again immensely fashionable mega-structures. If you are prone to dystopian tendencies you can’t but start imagining these constructions like last resorts for the chosen few, as the dejected many riot and turn suburbia and feral city centres into the announced urban slums of the near future. In a fictional mix of Buñuel and Ballard, we could easily picture these enclosed, autonomous structures soon being cut off from the surrounding debris. It’s almost as if, knowingly, technology has indeed been thoroughly orientated to create this specific building autonomy for the world to come. Architecture’s aesthetic autonomy may have been many times criticised as the perpetrator of a social divide. But this is really nothing, if compared to the message enclosed in the possibility of real physical autonomy. What we read today as the optimistic promises of ecological efficiency may as well provide tomorrow the perverse solution for the ultimate social segregation between rich and poor. The harvesting of rainwater and humidity, the workings of superlative solar and kinetic energy recycling systems, the agricultural


One Thousand Pathways

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