Phase 1: Communicate — What would I do to make things right, what would I do about the architecture in Prishtina? First of all, I am only a man. I’m sure some of you might find it hard to believe, or maybe even blasphemous to suggest “playing god,” but desperate times call for desperate measures. The exercise of removing all boundaries and limitations from what is expected or perceived as acceptable means anything is possible; not only in terms of architecture but also in terms of society and culture. This is a good start. Open up your minds and draw pictures of your thoughts. What do you want for yourself but more importantly what do you want for your people and your future? This is the first step to becoming an architect. Be proud that it’s OK to draw and share your pictures with the world.
Architects have lost their voices and it is our responsibility to take them back not only for myself but for all of you who give a damn. The world used to view architects as leaders. They were respected, and people aspired to be like them and people listened to them. They were the bosses, the intellectuals, the creative entrepreneurs daring to make their dreams reality. Today, the public is unaware of the value architects bring to society. Writing about architecture, sharing your passion for good design, explaining why you like a building or a space, are all ways you can play an active role in re-establishing the appreciation for our profession.
The experience of our buildings both inside and out is what matters. Good architecture possesses a character and feeling that sticks with you and creates memory. Our buildings witness the best of times and the worst of times. If only they could speak. But they do, and if they don’t than something is either wrong or you just aren’t paying attention. How a building or space makes you feel on the inside is what makes it good or bad. It must be safe, healthy and, of course, it must be beautiful. Architecture is the backdrop, the stage on which we live and perform the most extraordinary events to the most trivial. Don’t be dismissive of what you feel when experiencing architecture. If a building makes you feel depressed, sick, anxious, nervous, than it probably lacks the qualities you associate with pleasurable experiences. The more important question is why does it make you feel like that? Try to figure it out and take notice of other projects that induce similar feelings. Some buildings actually do this on purpose to try and intentionally make uncomfortable space. Look at the Holocaust museum by Daniel Libeskind or the Jewish memorial by Peter Eisenman. These projects serve as documentation of horrific events by attempting to recreate the feeling of what it must have been like during those times.
If you like something you see or experience, write it down and describe it. This may sound foolish, but once you try to pin down the reasons why you like something you may find it much more difficult to put the reasons into words. But this is a good thing. It forces you to analyze what you experience and understand the reality of what is here right now. What is it that you like? Be particular. Why do you like it? Maybe it reminds you of something from your past that was a happy moment, a good feeling or memory. Don’t over simplify it. Get to the root of your experience.
People think, “What can an architect do that I cannot?” This is the argument architects are struggling to win. Know your value, communicate your vision and learn to explain. We all have great ideas, but they can’t change anything without being communicated through writing and drawing. Yes I know, we cannot change Prishtina overnight, but to quote Lil Wayne, “Hey young world! You never looked better. And I heard change start. With the man in the mirror.”
The article was originally written in English.
Photo: James W. Stodgel
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