Architecture without adjectives

31 Mar 2011

Emerging practice claims 'the only thing we take care in achieving is architecture'

"Architecture just needs to fulfil the task that it is presented with. Traditional architecture does precisely this, in a very simple, silent way. There is no need for adjectives" (Pritzker Prize Laureate 2011 Eduardo Souto de Moura). Anyone can recognize that much of architecture today, mainly spotlight architecture, is built upon these adjectives.

Some contemporary architects seem preoccupied with the production of iconic buildings, sustainable, original and innovative architecture. Nuno Valentim's application to the WAN 21 for 21 Awards is not an expression of this paradigm.

For them, 'celebrating architecture sustainably' is to design with accuracy, based on the circumstantial reality which is presented to them. They refuse to work merely to produce icons, poems, or to correspond with the ecological discourse - these are part of the process. They state that 'the only thing that we take care in achieving is Architecture', and therefore, each work is viewed as a singular case; each project has its own identity, its own history, its own story. The response is always singular, shaped by a profound analysis of circumstance (client brief, budget, place, site, social, urban and historical context, etc.).

Their presentation shows four particular examples of methodological and architectural responses: a chapel, an Immigration Support Centre, a textile manufacturing unit in an early 20th-century palace and a school reception pavilion. With symbolic, social, rehabilitation and educational themes respectively, all of them were created with strict budget control.

They all have a common motivation: each one is faithful to the driving concept of producing a coherent architectural response - without adjectives.

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