A reflection of nature

Human being has searched from always to relate his activities and emotions through signs that can communicate with their peers, and it is from their learning of natural phenomena, such as gifts and adventures offered by nature itself, which starts its creative participation in all corners of the Earth. In what we know today by the Japanese archipelago there is a special reference to the presence of nature in their creative manifestations, even in the most daily and trivial, since life of the Japanese is closely linked to the emotions that arise from the contemplation of the natural world. Consequently their architectural contribution carries clear references of the effects observed in their natural environment. Their architecture is the participation of the Japanese in the world as a clear reflection of nature.

The sign for the Japanese

The sign plays a decisive role in the universe of Japan, where everything moves from meanings and symbolic contents, from the simplest of their writing characters until the representation of the early morning sun, which gives shape to their flag.

Within the important literary contribution of Barthes, he choose Japan because it is '' the only one that has found the closest sign work to his convictions ... the furthest from dislikes, irritation and the negotiations aroused on him by the Western mediocrity"(Barthes, p.3). We westerners are not used to decipher the signs of nature.

The sign is for the Japanese the origin of his dialectic and assimilation of things. In Japan "the Empire of the signifiers is so vast, so exceeds the word, that the exchange of signs is still a wealth, of a mobility, a fascinating subtlety, in spite of the language opacity, sometimes even thanks to this opacity" (Barthes, p.18).

For Japanese artist perception and interpretation of the observer is a fundamental part of his works, particularly of the graphic works, that is why the messages suggested after the signs acquire such importance that they are, even, over the explicit messages. The artistic concept of the Japanese is an intimate dialogue with nature, not to copy or make use of it in the Western way, but to live with her and cohabit in their bowels. It is the sign, in addition to what can commonly be found in painting, music, dance, theatre, etc., an everyday item included in the architectural elements that make up the neighborhood, and their meanings are an essential part of everyday life. “Endless examples could be mentioned to show that the storehouse was one of the most important status symbols in pre-modern Japan, if not the most important. The fact is that the wealth of the village or town, as well as the number of better-off people who lived in it, could be accurately judged by the number of white-plaster storehouse units.” (Teiji, p.39). Through the signs they get to express beyond what construction materials may say: the poetics of the meta-architecture.

Parallelism of the Japanese with the original American

I find much affinity in the artistic concept of the Japanese and that of the pre-Columbian America inhabitant, from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. The native American also spoke with nature, was afraid of it, respected it, but basically he had a profound filial love for it from which emerge a series of attitudes before his life and death, as if these don't belong to him, as nor belonged to him the gifts received from the natural environment.

The famous Chief Seattle, from one of the tribes in the North of what is now the United States, manifests in his words "the earth does not belong to man, but it is man that belongs to the Earth", who is not the owner of the creation, is not even its author, since he adds: "the man has not woven the fabric of life: he is only a strand of it".

On the other hand, in the Mexican high plateau, the great Nezahualcoyotl, King of Texcoco from 1431 to 1472 was, mainly, a prodigious poet given his high sensitivity and love for nature. A good part of his literature goes to thank the gift of life and the undeservedly goods received from her. He is spokesman of a people who, conscious of their smallness, live in a borrowed territory and to it they will return when they meet death. Here is one of his poems, originally in Nahuatl, which I find delicately similar to the Japanese Haiku:

      With flowers you write, giver of life.

      With songs you give color,

with songs you shadow

those who have to live on Earth.

      Then you will destroy eagles and tigers,

only in your book of paintings we live,

here on Earth.

      With black ink you will delete

which the brotherhood was,

the community, the nobility.

      You shadow those who have to live on Earth.

The true relationship with nature is a mystical, and somehow every true artist is strongly linked to it. We can find it as a source of inspiration and life as a parallel way both in Japanese and in the original American. Kenkoo Hooshi says bluntly in his Tsurezuregura that "real poets are not those who do not experience a charm impression at the sight of deflowered cherry trees".

Architecture that favors the relationship with nature

Several architectural elements are directly involved in the Japanese relationship with nature. First, Japanese traditional buildings have a construction system based on pillars and beams, free of walls, that encloses through sliding panels, offering the possibility of opening a continuity between the inside and the outside as a single area that flows. In the relation of the Japanese with nature there are directly involved several architectural elements. The Engawa is "everything that functions as a transit zone that leads from inside to outside... that allows conceiving space as a continuous flow between two opposites: interior and exterior" (Ruiz de la Puerta, p.57). Normally the Engawa is a porch or covered walkway that is prepended to the entry of an indoor enclosure. The Shoji, or paper walls, establish a lighting link  between the interior and exterior, making the latter always present during the day and the first, with night lighting, appearing as a flashlight to the outside during the night. They also have what is known as Shakkei, or technique of the borrowed landscape, which is a framing, from doors and windows, of views to the outside, usually the garden, to add it to the charms of the livable interior spaces. The Michiyuki is a concept of movement along the way; the space is sequential and depends on the passing of time. It is usually present in the routes towards access to the tea house.

The Ma concept defines the relationship between space and time, a place at a certain time. Ma "manifests itself in the design of the road as the element that organizes the movement from one place to another...Ma divides the world and with this meaning was expressed in classical architecture with the image of the bridge or Hashi... the arched bridge symbolizes the transition from the world of reality to the world of illusion"(idem, p.88). The relationship of light and shadows that it produces are paramount in the architectural composition for Japanese, Tanizaki does a very complete description in his book In Praise of Shadows. The Haiku, as a system, has also place in architectural composition as "we can associate that pace to Ando's certain architectures" (Ruiz de la Puerta, p.12), those in which he is particularly careful to incorporate Japan's millenary spirit. Finally, the concept of vacuum for Japanese plays a fundamental role in his artistic creation, "not in the sense of opposition to the full, but from an oncological point of view" (idem, p.93). The vacuum is the canvas, the Fund involving the various elements of a composition and can be as much a divider sliding panel, the fabric that gives shape to a kimono, the dish where it is presented a culinary work, the sheet of paper which is written with a brush, but where we find a masterly representation is in dry gardens, as of the known Ryoan-Ji Temple, where the white gravel masterfully plays the role of vacuum.

If there is something characteristically synthetic in Japan culture, that is the affinity of its presence with the natural environment that contains it. It is no coincidence that its artistic manifestations, where the architecture are of course included, they are so alive and at the same time so gentle, so full of harmony, as if they had been created by nature itself.

For the Japanese being in contact with nature is an integral part of their way of life. His development of sensitivity goes very hand in hand with this, and throughout his life keeps present that art excites and leads to reflection, that art goes beyond perception and understanding, goes towards the encounter with the senses.

Nature for the Japanese is not a universe immense and overwhelming, an oppressive mass that minimizes his creatures. Nature is in each and every one of its details, in his smallest corners. For the inhabitant of a Japanese village all in his context has a meaning, the physical world, and with it the space constructed by man, is a paradise full of signs where take place the activities that give life to the existence of the human being. The architecture of the Japan is primarily a reflection of nature.

•Barthes, R. Empire of Signs, 1991.

•Ruiz de la Puerta, F. The sacred and the profane in Tadao Ando, 1995.

•Tanizaki, J. In Praise of Shadows, 1996.

•Teiji, I. Kura, design and tradition of the Japanese storehouse, 1980.

A new scar

For the leader of a nation with over 140 million people, whose decisions have a big impact on economic, political and social level, and whose responsibility in the protection of the security and sovereignty of its people, his leadership and image outside its borders is essential for staying strong in power. For that same leader the annexation of a 27,000 sq. km territory and with a population of around 2'300,000 inhabitants, who mostly apparently agreed, a territory that is related by its former belonging to the greater union of Republics of the modern era, but now extinct, means a significant achievement to his people and to the neighboring territories, despite strong criticisms and threats of the majority of countries in the opposite block. In the end, that is the way in which has been configured the political geography of our planet, at least in the last 12 centuries. With the emergence of the cold line created by the end of WWII cases of dissection between neighboring communities has been a constant: Federal and Democratic Germanys, North and South of Korea, North and South of Vietnam, among other cases. It is now the turn of Crimea, which history is strongly linked to Ukraine and whose social ties are as strong as those that hold together any whole nation.

However, there are subtleties that are not perceived from great distances. The border between Crimea and Ukraine will be from the beginning of 2014 a new scar on the planet's human geography, since families and relatives of different order will be separated by this subtle boundary line but which will mean a profound political distance given the interests of each of the blocks that hold to either side of it. A few four weeks ago was made public the news of the reunion of brothers and other Korean relatives, some from the North and some from the South, after 60 years apart. People who had shared a childhood together and who are already at retirement age, and had had no approach to their loved ones in all those years. And this is a real human drama. It is outrageous that we have not reached such a level of social development in the world by this 21st century so that these things keep happening. The global village may never be a means of dignified human development while they continue to exist these sovereign demonstrations by the planet's most powerful leaders, which persist in maintaining positions of dominance and hostility with its counterpart. It is not a matter of favor no ideology in particular, but rather to point the tremendous lack of definition concerning the dialogue, tolerance and rapprochement between peoples, indispensable so that there are territories that provide a life of dignity.

The significance of habitat


habitat-significance

A dwelling, that object so common and current, as abundant as unnoticed in cities and such contiguous and frequent which makes it trivial to everyday life is and has been, without any doubt, one of the most significant components on all cultures.

The relationship of human beings with their physical environment, especially with their own habitat, has been fundamental to their development. Everyone requires, by his very nature, a place to settle, a place where lean and from where move ahead toward his interaction with his peers. His corporeal reality leaves no alternative, he exists as an entity that participates in the environment and must assume the task of cope as best as possible. Since his origins, he has learned to provide himself with sufficient spaces, first to survive and then to reside with his surrounding as his own scenario, and also with peers as his social environment. Human habitat is born, inevitably, at the same moment that emerges his need of refuge.

We understand housing as the possession of a place of residence —possibly not physical possession of the dwelling being for rent, but the living space—, place that identifies us, that locates us geographically, that represents us socially, that serves as the stage for our more personal activities and that provides us with refuge from outer space. Our usual room place provides us with that site to where return after leaving to the outside world and that, symbolically speaking, represents the innate feeling of territoriality.

My area of interest is Ethics and Architecture. I would like to make clear that what I understand for Ethics in Architecture is not about the common understanding of a decent professional behavior on the architecture professional, a fellow that does not steal nor mislead clients, does not lie in costs or in time goals, etc. This actually talks about honesty and righteousness, which is expected in any person and any practice. For me, the ethical exercise of architecture has to do with the fate of the projects, with the use of appropriate technologies, with the common good and, above all, with the domain of real needs (physical, emotional, sensorial and psychological) of users. The architect’s commitment with his performance has little to do with his vainglory or transcendence and much with the potential users’ benefit on any project.

A decent concept of design is based on the identification of the Habitat as a human and social phenomenon that occurs where response to the fundamental requirements of abode of the individual, from his socializing interaction and participation. Human habitat is the result of man presence over the environment. From this, it should be addressed as a physical entity in various forms and developments marked by the historical and geographical circumstances around it. Not as a classification of styles, but rather the identification of specific imprints left on the territory by its inhabitants. It is important to learn about the Habitat’s occupant, his characteristics and needs, his impulses and speculations, ambitions and desires. In sum, there is a need of analysis on this performer known as the user.

The identification of an individual with their own space is essential. It is the foundation of so mentioned sense of belonging, the need for belonging that strengthens the individual self-determination and enables him to assess everything that surrounds him from another dimension. The emotional security that provides an own site cannot be replaced with anything else, since real possession of a habitat is not in a commercial sense, as defined by our current economic system. Possession of a land or a dwelling, in a vividly deep sense, has more to do with a respectful identification where they fit the two meanings of belonging: on the one hand "this space belongs to me and it has to signify to others that they have to respect it as an object particular and alien to them". On the other hand "I belong to this space and to it I owe myself. I depend on it and I have to take care of it and protect it for it is the same since before I existed and which I am only temporarily responsible of it".

Human being has been identified with his concept of habitat so that his dwelling has become, with the passage of time, an integral part of himself. The site bounded by the dwelling walls is the extension of the individual's body and, depending only upon his body and mind, he can achieve the illusion of total freedom. The dwelling is the strengthened body, the frame for life.

Architecture of commitment


The commitment of making architecture is with society as a whole. With that culture that has seen us be born and grow, and now furthermore, with the stirring globalization and within the intercultural and multi-ethnic environment of world’s 21st century in a geographical whole. This is a world without barriers and capable of instantaneous contacts where history which, until very recently was understood as a narrow and deep flow, is now represented within a very wide horizon across the width of geography that almost seems to be infinite.

Population in the middle ages and during the Renaissance was surely not aware of the specificity that they were shaping with their architecture, both monumental as domestic. It is up to after a few decades, sometimes centuries, when sediments were already letting see more diaphanous traits not of forms and styles, but of societies, their interactions and customs, their visions and longings.

The movement known as Modern Architecture, which started in Europe at the end of the 19th century and with important likeness on the United States from the beginning of the 20th, has not stopped shaping architectural production in many parts of the world’s past century and still today. Despite the far-reaching technological advances and the emergence of new materials and construction procedures; the minimalist principles, spatial neatness, Neoplasticism composition, honesty in materials, some hint of Brutalism and Cubism, and even the use of bio-structural elements as those who already used Antoni Gaudí, make this movement hold its course still with robustness and our vision of it don't be more than partial, waiting for the corresponding sediments that will bring still much fabric where to cut to generations to come within fifty or one hundred years.

Something that indeed is given to us is to verify the shallowness of form interpretations derived from Modern Architecture. Shallowness when compared to their relationship with the lifestyles and social interactions that saw them born, that have been in many cases revolutionary, and come largely from the technological evolution of information and communication that we have experienced since the mid-20th century. Archaeologists and anthropologists of the 25th Century will see in our Modern Architecture such attributes that we don’t see by now and that have a significant socio-cultural burden. Something similar to what happened to the contemporaries of the Romanesque and Gothic.

That is why I started declaring the commitment of making architecture. And now I would add that it is not only with current society but with future societies. If today we feel that buildings like the Palazzo Vecchio of Florence, the Taj Mahal in Agra, the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, the village of Machu Picchu in Cusco, the Stockholm public library, the East Wing National Gallery in Washington, the temples of Abu Simbel in Nubia, the Golden Pavilion in Kyoto, the Saint Basil's Cathedral in Moscow, the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Chartres, the Kaufmann House of Bear Run Pennsylvania, the Hagia Sophia Mosque in Istanbul, they are our heritage as humanity and this causes us great pride, it is because in their time there were architects and entire societies tending to do very well their job as collectivities and cultures committed with themselves and their historical moment.

Towards a socially sustainable common village


tugurio.jpg

Cities nowadays are direct consequence of the fast transformation shaped by capitalist system’s free market. There is right to a parcel, to a dwelling, for those with purchase capacity.

The cities’ physical structures, direct reflection of their social structures, are quite clear.  This is the way that legal codes define and authorize them: in addition to private property, there are spaces and public paths that belong to the state, that is to say, to the community for their use and collective benefit. But there also exists what are named “irregular settings”, areas that are invaded and inhabited by individuals whose do not belong commercially, and apartments occupied without the due purchase or rent contracts.

There is the right to occupy a space if there is sufficient money to support it. By being born, a creature gets the challenge to certify himself someday as “inhabitant person” while he is able to acquire sufficient cultural credentials to buy the space where he will live.

Human race inhabits the planet jointly, and the land competition has caused more rancor and division than union and collective force.  However, it is seen that other forms of interaction can subsist in the planet. For North American natives land was not a reason for quarrels. Man belonged to the environment and it was not conceived that territory could be measured and distributed as if it was a cake. The land, the river, the mountains, the clouds belonged all to a Natural order, not to whom dared to take over them.

The social organizations of an anthill or a honeycomb speak of the possibilities of feasible, harmonic, and constructive co-habitability.

Prompting individuals to count on a physically and socially sustainable environment, and agreed with its needs, facilitates the performance of a whole community for its development.

The social dimensions of the present western culture deserve a deep revision in terms of an adjustment towards more sustainable social structures, like a living organism that includes a whole community as a group. It is required, for so, that housing survival to be a guaranteed fact previous to the fits established by markets, like of any commercial good.

Among other conjunctures of century opening, we are before the necessity to reform the human village as a refuge with a minimum assured from where to start off. We have reached thresholds where it is indispensable to invent those constructed enclosures able to lodge complete communities where, as minimum premises, we all fit and the differences begin beyond the habitability.

Housing as a human heritage among society

poblado.jpg

The need for decent housing is intrinsically linked to the nature of man since his existence as such, because only in it he can socialize and feel positively part inclusive of the world within he lives. Therefore, it is increasingly clear its justification as one of the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights established by the UN, for all and universally recognized.

The right to housing can be understood as one derived from the right to life, since etymologically housing does not mean anything other than "place to live", so that the right to decent housing can be defined as the right of every person to have access to a Habitat in which to develop his usual life in accordance with his personal dignity. Therefore, no doubt why the right to housing is now a primary concern as a Fundamental Human Right in every corner of the world.

Not only in developing countries, but even in the more industrialized, there are large groups lacking a home beside those who, by real estate speculation, have several of them. This allows us to distinguish between two categories: house-being, as necessity-property to which refers the right to housing, and the house-having that correspond to what is designated as wealth-property. It is clear that the conflict of interests existing between the investor and speculator sector and the broad segment demanding worthy places to live does not allow perceiving simple solutions over the immediate horizon. At the end, it's a conflict between patrimonial rights and fundamental rights. This type of conflict makes more difficult the assimilation of the right to housing as a practical certainty. 

What is clear is that a problem as the lack of decent housing is a problem that belongs to society as a whole, and that dissatisfaction carries damage with domino effect. It is a fact that the growth of the rental prices, coupled with a lack of projects suitable for the construction of affordable housing has placed decent housing beyond the reach of low income families, forcing them to live in slums or "shacks". As it is well known, this phenomenon is exacerbated in densely populated cities. Today more than ever, in a world where immigration is widespread, social differences are very clear: the amount of urban space one controls is directly proportional to the status one has and/or to one’s income. It is therefore evident that the differential of space is not justified today in human terms, but only in economic terms. But, as said, Justice understood as respect for equality of rights and of people does not understand economic differences, and sooner or later ends finding exhaust valves. That is why the urgency of the case.

The collective involvement of all the parties involved in the satisfaction of Human Rights becomes necessary, and in particular of the right to housing, understanding that political happiness is an essential precondition for personal happiness, for which are to be completed the most intimate projects, as being happy, integrating them in shared projects, such as the justice, since to set up a better world identity and solidarity are indispensable. All this from the quest for individual dignity, which in turn is an essential factor for his happiness.

The difference in human habitat, in how it had been conceived since the beginning of the modern era and today, displayed from contemporary social problems, raises from the concept of housing as a patrimonial right by law to it as a Fundamental Human Right. When more and more social sectors excluded access to housing and to which the market does not give an answer, and when in the free market increasingly weigh more the assets and good investment than the sake of residence, it is necessary to raise basic housing solutions from other new platforms.

The city is a patrimony of all its inhabitants, and as a living body, the sickness of any of its parts affects to the entire body. That is why the housing problems of some few end up involving the entire population. Not only for solidarity with the disadvantaged, but also as a strategy of sustainability, it is necessary to meet the supply of decent housing for all.

Towards new patterns of immigration

The topic of this article derives from the current and growing pressure of the many migrants who, from troubled homelands or simply in search of livelihood opportunities lead us, as architectural and urban design professionals, to raise mobility solutions and territorial accommodation proposals through drastic changes in the existing land organization.

From a perception based on the current political structures, this proposal will seem a blatant attack on the sovereignty of European nations, as we know them today.

Before proceeding, it is important to remember that many of these same nations exercised as invaders and colonizers of distant lands, inhabited by folks considered inferiors —according to European descriptions by then—. However, using the principles of international justice emanating from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), we can now say that the sovereignty of all these territories was clearly violated by the invaders, even though it was not recognized as such in its moment nor value judgments issued by then were supported by the ordinances that would emerge later.

First fact

The current notions of rights are closely linked to the principle of citizenship or nationality. One has rights within the limits of a political context in the extent that one has a charter of nationality.

1. In the Middle Ages society was enclosed within strong protective walls. Within them, families were grouped to make the city worthy, and being a citizen meant to belong to the upper classes by birth, a privilege granted by the accident of fate. The rest of the population, accommodated in the vicinity of the wall within the forest, had no access to the privileges of feudal lords, the citizens.

2. During the Enlightenment, differences for nobility reasons were openly fought to overthrow the birth status by accident, which led to modern principles of universal equality, but always within national borders. It was then that political boundaries of nations went on to become the modern feudal walls and, despite the inevitable class differences indoor, constitutional statements became guarantees to grant rights and duties available to all its inhabitants. In Europe this became evident particularly through the armed conflicts in the first half of the twentieth century, where national boundaries were indisputable.

3. However, with the subsequent integration of the European Union, insurmountable barriers have been moved to the perimeter of this large area, coming to mark the division between the European Community and foreign residents, foreign and unrelated to the privileges reserved for the old continent, which in recent years has intensified to create what is known as the lock policy. The current situation therefore is not very different to that experienced in the Middle Ages. Privileges conferred to a knighthood by then are equivalent to privileges granted now by a passport or a charter of nationality.

Second fact

The rising tide of protests, conflicts and changes in the Arab countries, that have recently deposed three ancient rulers and have mobilized thousands of people from their territories trying to find security and future for their families, has accelerated what in recent years had become a dripping, but steady, migration to continental Europe. Different situations but similar results are observed in other parts of the world that cause the mobility of its residents. In Spain, albeit with more or less intense moments, politics facing the arrival of illegal immigrants is permanent and with an intense level of activity throughout the year. And yet, under today’s circumstances, indeed they are not being attended with formal diplomacy. It is a matter of uprooted human beings in search of land, looking for a corner in the planet to establish, where everyone has the right, those born within or outside the developed world. It is not an issue of ideology, historical debts or revenges, of donations or contracts. Its a matter of commitment to the Fundamental Rights of Man to ensure a better global future.

Third fact

It is seen that the trend towards integration of immigrants in the current structure of the modern Western city has resulted, in general, a failure. The incompatibility, as seen so far, is a fact. The result is an obvious stigma of immigrants, and any dispute arising out of this is fuel for the critical positions that seek to denigrate their presence in urban society. The failure to adapt to local traditions and language difficulties and/or accommodation in the labor market has pushed them into seclusion in rooming houses or in overcrowded urban slums. It is clear that for the average citizen, as well as for the same immigrant fellow, his/her presence in the western city life is annoying and, despite being tolerated by both parties, is no less uncomfortable.

Fourth fact

As one of the feasible actions to be taken by Europe could be the definition of extra-urban specific areas in several countries where to locate immigrants coming from places of conflict and/or underdevelopment. The European Union, as trustee of the potential of the nations it represents, would serve as financial agency for the establishment of places destined for so on those countries. In the case of Spain, these settlements, while remaining as Spanish territory, would act as European Community space under a free loan scheme. Political concepts like the wall, lock, door closed and others would be forgotten, giving rise to new patterns of politic distribution and freedom of transnational movements, where would prevail the person of migrants over their nationality.

Fifth fact

The possible schemes of town establishment would meet both the convenience of the recipient country and the capabilities and benefits of immigrants, within a new legal framework regarding land use.

1. One of the phenomena caused by the Industrial Revolution was the movement of the population of numerous rural areas to cities. That move has been slow but steady, exceeding in 2007 the urban population to rural worldwide. In the cities of Spain now live almost 70 of its total population.

2. This has caused that many Spanish towns have been greatly reduced in population and many others are completely abandoned. The latter went through a process of gestation, growth, maturity, and not a few enjoyed the strength and charm of some others that are now flourishing urban centers. Some of these abandoned towns even keep time stone remains of the Roman Empire.

3. Immigrants from areas of conflict or insufficient supply of subsistence have relatively little experience living in developed cities. They are people more akin to suburban and rural environments. For that reason, and as an option of a bilateral agreement, they could be entrusted to repopulate some of these sites as they could be called Districts of Reception and Settlement for Immigrants (DAAI for its Spanish acronym), with the intention of reviving them and, by their new inhabitants, sustain themselves and develop as a cultural community protected within the Spanish territory.

4. In the north area of the Guadalajara province, near its border with the Soria province, there are three villages located. These are Querencia, Tobes and Torrecilla del Ducado. They are located northern of Sigüenza, southern of Almazan and western of Medinaceli. Due to its geographical location and existing communications, I propose them as the first settlements to meet the principles in this project under the status of Districts of Reception and Settlement for Immigrants.

Sixth fact

From the outlined above, this article seeks to establish the groundwork for the establishment of DAAI’s and open possibilities to outline some principles of physical and operational definition for the recovery of each of the above towns, as an example of what could become a comprehensive program of recovery of abandoned villages and, simultaneously, the political reorganization of national borders to benefit immigration, acceptance and development of people born in state of neglect.

It is necessary to argue that physical approaches should contain poetic and cultural values nherent to the citizens/users of these sites, and that these solutions will be architectural contributions with a deeply dialogism underlying, able to organize its contemporary time.

(*) Distritos de Acogida y Asentamiento para Inmigrantes

The diagnosis in the architectural projects teaching

 The practice of architecture —creating projects that are then converted into buildings— has entered fully, after commercial and industrial distilled processes, in a mercantile environment where its performance is the same as a number of other goods, some essential and some other rather superfluous. It is undeniable today that both its trade and benefits, together with its image and marketing, are key factors that make architecture possible. In particular, issues such as <em>economic feasibility</em> and <em>investment return</em> are a strong influence anywhere in the developed world for architectural exemplars to occur, to meet the demands of their historical moment.  However, the definition of "architectural problem" differs conceptually from the conditions of the business environment where it moves today's architecture. An architectural problem is the need for an individual or group of people to see fulfilled such habitat where to perform activities related to human development, whether they are vital daily activities (home), work or labor (offices, shops), social and cultural (schools, libraries, etc.)., recreation and leisure (theaters, entertainment centers), health (clinics, hospitals, etc.), transport (train and metro stations, airports), tourism (hotels, resorts), etc. And although one cannot deny the close relationship between these buildings with the economic structure of any society, the difference here, as pointed out above, is the housing needs of the human being —livability— and not only the market forces and/or created interests.  For today’s architecture students, the destination when they become professionals is to be able to proficiently design their buildings as being efficient and convenient, within a competitive environment, if not among architects yet according to property developers and investors, who are at the end who get the ability to place projects. Then, students look more to the demand of "society" in terms of consumption, which, besides it is not always a reflection of reality; it dilutes the real profile of actual users and beneficiaries of the buildings. It is the equivalent of a medical student who moved according to the trends set by media messages about the anatomical characteristics of the individual as desirable according to fashion, for instance the body’s silhouette, the shape of the nose, body hair on certain parts, etc., and set aside the real health conditions, that never are a lack.  In the case of modern medicine, fortunately, it is the diagnosis which has marked its reason for being. Everything moves from a serious study of the pathological conditions of a medical problem, and coming out solutions do it around that diagnosis. Sometimes the circumstances are unclear and the diagnosis must be modified according to changing factors, but what prevails is the idea of setting a clear identification of the problem, a reliable diagnosis.  It would be very appropriate that in architecture there would also be serious talking about diagnosis, about the identification of real and practical problems in their proper dimensions. About the existence of many cases that remain unsolved for an apparent lack of necessity or duress, while discussing and consuming vast amounts of human and material resources in unnecessary or speculative projects, from initiative and financing of both public and private funds.  It would be great for architecture students to learn about the reality of architectural spaces user and his conditions (livability) and not just the market conditions, trends in fashion, art and aesthetic innovations, high technology, "starchitecture", political strategies, the construction industry, property development, building loans, etc. There is no denying on the existence of the latter, but the real practice of architects, the vocational activity with a human sense, comes rather with the knowing of the projects recipient. Ultimately, choosing to bring a true diagnosis in the architecture studies is paving the way for students to find their place in a firmer way through a truly ethical practice of their profession.

The practice of architecture —creating projects that are then converted into buildings— has entered fully, after commercial and industrial distilled processes, in a mercantile environment where its performance is the same as a number of other goods, some essential and some other rather superfluous. It is undeniable today that both its trade and benefits, together with its image and marketing, are key factors that make architecture possible. In particular, issues such as <em>economic feasibility</em> and <em>investment return</em> are a strong influence anywhere in the developed world for architectural exemplars to occur, to meet the demands of their historical moment.

However, the definition of "architectural problem" differs conceptually from the conditions of the business environment where it moves today's architecture. An architectural problem is the need for an individual or group of people to see fulfilled such habitat where to perform activities related to human development, whether they are vital daily activities (home), work or labor (offices, shops), social and cultural (schools, libraries, etc.)., recreation and leisure (theaters, entertainment centers), health (clinics, hospitals, etc.), transport (train and metro stations, airports), tourism (hotels, resorts), etc. And although one cannot deny the close relationship between these buildings with the economic structure of any society, the difference here, as pointed out above, is the housing needs of the human being —livability— and not only the market forces and/or created interests.

For today’s architecture students, the destination when they become professionals is to be able to proficiently design their buildings as being efficient and convenient, within a competitive environment, if not among architects yet according to property developers and investors, who are at the end who get the ability to place projects. Then, students look more to the demand of "society" in terms of consumption, which, besides it is not always a reflection of reality; it dilutes the real profile of actual users and beneficiaries of the buildings. It is the equivalent of a medical student who moved according to the trends set by media messages about the anatomical characteristics of the individual as desirable according to fashion, for instance the body’s silhouette, the shape of the nose, body hair on certain parts, etc., and set aside the real health conditions, that never are a lack.

In the case of modern medicine, fortunately, it is the diagnosis which has marked its reason for being. Everything moves from a serious study of the pathological conditions of a medical problem, and coming out solutions do it around that diagnosis. Sometimes the circumstances are unclear and the diagnosis must be modified according to changing factors, but what prevails is the idea of setting a clear identification of the problem, a reliable diagnosis.

It would be very appropriate that in architecture there would also be serious talking about diagnosis, about the identification of real and practical problems in their proper dimensions. About the existence of many cases that remain unsolved for an apparent lack of necessity or duress, while discussing and consuming vast amounts of human and material resources in unnecessary or speculative projects, from initiative and financing of both public and private funds.

It would be great for architecture students to learn about the reality of architectural spaces user and his conditions (livability) and not just the market conditions, trends in fashion, art and aesthetic innovations, high technology, "starchitecture", political strategies, the construction industry, property development, building loans, etc. There is no denying on the existence of the latter, but the real practice of architects, the vocational activity with a human sense, comes rather with the knowing of the projects recipient. Ultimately, choosing to bring a true diagnosis in the architecture studies is paving the way for students to find their place in a firmer way through a truly ethical practice of their profession.

Hope

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Social paucity normally goes hand in hand with the lack of decent housing. One could say that poverty is quasi synonymous of lack on minimum of habitability, and this has accompanied man at least since the first settlements in the form of organized populations and with a city character, as small as they were. For a poor tenant any utensil is always appropriate if it's for making a habitat where to refuge, so he takes hold of junk, waste, will and ingenuity, but above all he takes hold of hope.

It is said that hope is the last thing that dies, no wonder it refuses so hard to die. That is why Martin Luther King resisted seeing his own people systematically humiliated, and Nelson Mandela not surrendering to the clouds that besieging him at his time. And particularly, the hope of Oscar Romero seeing the day in which Salvadorans oppressors and oppressed hugging each other as brothers. Some say that it is required to have been made with a special clay to endure up to so much. But that’s what Hope has: that to him who exercises it, he will strengthen certain invisible muscles that never imagined he ever had, and his constant practice leads him to unsuspected heights. There is a story about Gandhi by saying once , answering how he had been able to succeed with his social movement, that if he had been aware in the beginning about everything he would have to go through he would have been unable to take his first step.

To endure takes a learning, and there is necessary to put into everyday practice both strength as tolerance in any field. At the end, hope translates into sincere smiles despite everything. Have you ever noticed how much more pleasant are the smiles of the poor than those of the rich? Dignified life requires certain minimums, one of which is the habitat under appropriate conditions. Generally, when one still does not have a place what he certainly has is the permanent hope to count on it, and one of the demonstrations provided by hope is that trustful and illuminated smile for a better future.