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The Question of Place Marina Carretero

Terms such as place or space seem to be a matter of study for different throughout the history of architecture. To dwell, to build, to be. These verbs are key points for Heidegger. Through these –at first sight simple- verbs, he tries to define a relationship between building (architecture) and being. In his essay “Building, Dwelling, Thinking” he is treating these concepts as mere language and relating them to their significance. By relating dwelling and being, through the German term Bauen, -man is insofar as he dwells-, he gets to analyze what a building is, and how we dwell it. For Heidegger a dwelling is not a mere dwelling, and it is not restricted to housing programs, but to “being programs”. As he explains, with nowadays life who can ensure us that dwelling occurs in houses? Every building, -he argues- must serve as man´s dwell. (To build is in itself already to dwell). Heidegger goes further with language and makes an “essential relationship” of these terms (build and dwell), arguing that “dwelling and building are related as end and means”, and defend it through language.

Marina Carretero

After this language analysis in the relationship between building, man and dwell, Heidegger joins it with the concepts of location and space. He now argues that the relationship between man and location lies entirely into buildings through dwelling. He introduces the example of a farmhouse in the Black forest. Through this example it is easy to see how location, man and dwell are one. The farmhouse was built in a hill, a perfect location for its dwelling, its uses and crafts. Everything fitted together in the farmhouse. Then, Heidegger argues, only if we are capable of dwelling, only the can we build. This example was about a house built about two hundred years ago, but –and following Heidegger´s ideas- What is the state of dwelling in our precarious life? This today´s most important idea to be answered. This lack of housing was solved at that time, but the perception of dwelling is changing through history, and non-stopping. Nowadays, we could have used the farmhouse in the Black Forest, and that would have been dwelling for us. Each day our home loses a bit of its meaning, and our workplace gains it instead. We use our home to rest, to sleep. But where we are? Which is the place in where we practice our being, the place in where we dwell? These kind of questions are more and more changing the way we dwell, and therefore the way we build. Each day, we see how workplaces are changing, and how they are passing from being just a gathering of small cubicles, to something cozier, with spaces to eat and rest. People spend most of his time in offices and therefore, as Heidegger argues, these kinds of spaces are becoming their home. Do houses in themselves hold any guarantee that dwelling occurs in them? These kind of reflections about the way we dwell today, as well as today´s spaces and locations are worth to be thought. Kenneth Frampton in “Towards a Critical Regionalism: Six points for an architecture of resistance” shows the problematic of space and building in our age. Bauen | Chapter 2

By the quotation of Paul Ricoeur, from where he starts his essay, is arguing this problematic exposed here. Quoting Ricoeur: “[…] It is a fact: every culture cannot sustain and absorb the shock of modern civilization. There is a paradox: how to become modern and to return to sources; how to receive an old, dormant civilization and take part in universal civilizations.” With this quotation starts easily Kenneth Frampton his essay about critical regionalism. This is by itself a point of debate. How can a country develop and make use of technology without damaging its own culture and manners. This is goes further that just in the case of architecture; it is indeed present in every field. Frampton uses this quotation as applied to architecture, and analyzes what is really happening nowadays with this universalization of everything. Should architecture follow this rules? Architecture is not a simple formula one can take and repeat. Architecture is more complex than that. According to Frampton, architecture should take advantage of the modern architecture for its universal qualities but it also needs to take into account the geographical location of each work. “Emphasis should be on topography, climate, light; on tectonic form rather than on scenography and should be on the sense of touch rather than visual sense.

Marina Carretero

The question of Place  

Essay for Culture And Theory in Architecture.

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