ale girá | irrealism‑s & realism‑s |

diffjustdiff | experimental ‑ thinking |

| urban ‑ engitecture |

| architecture + urban planning + engineering |

... for the future ( and for the present )

(@- + i | ab- + diff- | future- + inner- | another- + new-) realism-s

(@- + i- | ab- + diff- | future- + inner- | another- + new- | super- + real-) realism‑s 

| AI digital ‑ sketching

by ale gi

now available at amazon.com/author/alegira/


intentions …

My intention with the series ‘realism‑s ™’ is not to carry out a thoughtful work, or a historically documented exposition. ‘realism-s ™’ is a continuation of my previous publication entitled ‘Hyperirrealism’, which contains the ideas that drive all my work, including this one.

I believe that architecture is saturated with intellectualism, with the need for models/references from/to the past and with arguments that help little or nothing to solve the real problems we face.

Furthermore, I am more interested (and I think they are examples of a more advanced mentality than architecture) in the way in which other arts are produced, manifested and appropriated by their recipients, such as music, literature, plastic arts, and even the scenic ones. In them, the freedom of creation and its meanings are not controlled in the way that architecture is. The reasons for this may be many, but I believe that architecture education and many political and economic interests sustain this ‘status quo’ of architecture in which creativity is hijacked by inherited ‘intellectualities’, ‘fears’ of what they will say, limiting ‘doctrines’, etc. (and many, far too many, economic and political interests).

For these reasons I present this publication in a fundamentally graphic, ab-referential and voluntarily ‘light’ way. I do not intend with it to satisfy any critical group, or any of the previously mentioned interests.

Voluntarily, the chapters that follow reflect and simulate a succession of ‘posts’, entries, the way in which information is currently disseminated and acquired on social networks.

The purpose of this work is that of trying to be helpful (in some way) to solve the serious problems that we are currently facing in the urban and architectural conception with respect to the quality and sustainability in urban environments.

(@- + i-) realism ™ | digital – sketching

In the present investigation I voluntarily opted for an experimental system as a form of acquisition of knowledge.

Today in architecture schools such as the Architectural Association in London (AA), this experimental system is used for the production of architecture with the lowest possible conditioning from prior knowledge. With this system It is intended to form creativity in the situation of liberty, acknowledging that all problems have at least one solution.

My research in such manner has produced a situation of disconnection with respect to existent in the search of my own path not influenced by external conditions. At the end I experiment freely in order to experience without limits what would previously impose references or precedents.

This experimental system produces errors, but experimentation always implies the possibility of errors in the process. Thomas Edison when asked why he failed 2000 times in its attempt to invent electric light said: ‘I have not failed even once, it has been a project of 2000 steps’

Adoption of the experimental system as a way of knowledge acquisition in the situation of untying all that already exists is a personal choice I needed to realize. I felt the need to search my own way of doing and understanding, the need to create my own criteria with which from now I can assess the past, the future. The existing and the upcoming based on own experiences, ideas, and knowledge. It is my belief that this is the only way knowledge produced by other people from past, present and future can be assimilated in a personal and true manner.

However, one cannot say that I have acted without prior knowledge. Knowledge I have used is based more on open and non-coercive systems, that permit experimentation without passing the filter of a-priori valuations, than onto systems with limits imposed by correctional willpower, or the prejudice of realistic, traditionally imposed knowledge only established as true, limiting freedom of thought and action, ultimately leading to non-conditional experimentation to itself by external factors.

Knowledge does not consist in the adoption of a determined and exclusive line, but in the integration of different factors, including conflicting ones, that conclude in an integral, inclusive knowledge. Today we see how division and fragmentation affects all spheres of humanity leading to extremism and confrontation between tendencies, tastes, preferences and realities.
Even political and social systems are aligned to this tendency of confrontation between individuals, social groups, policies, and geographical or religious boundaries.

Architecture should produce knowledge that integrates differences, even from opposing and disparate perspectives. It must integrate science, art, ecology, individuality and collectivity … Architects have to integrate in their projects as many factors as possible, without exceptions.
Is science important? Yes. Are aesthetics important? Yes. Is ecology important? Yes. Is individuality important? Yes. Is collectivity important? Yes.

True knowledge and wisdom are integrated. Division between different viewpoints only leads to self-restraint, exclusion of complementary knowledge, and confrontation between different human facets that would not be generated if them all were considered necessary and complementary to each other, for the production and enrichment of knowledge from distinct perspectives, reducing tension and producing more and better understanding of reality. This amplifies the own boundaries of architects and their projects.

Knowledge should not self-impose barriers or limits. On the contrary, it must feed on the different, on the apparently anorexic and contrary. It has to pursue integration, not exclusion, to pursue what is unlimited, and not what is limited.

There is no worse service to knowledge than certainty of truth. And no better service than integration of differences.

My system of thought and action is based on what I call ‘contrary philosophy’, which is to do and to think the opposite of what is considered to be correct. This form of thinking and action expands boundaries of ‘self’ by not admitting its internal and external constraints.

This system often exists in children’s minds. Children learn by experimentation, by rebellion against their constraints. This form of learning is based on internal rebellion to all that exercises limitations in development, authority, by opposing their will to exercise unlimited freedom.

‘Real’ world is full of limitations. The i-reality of children is a reaction against their limits. By ‘irreality’ children learn not by imitation and acceptance of imposed limits, but through imagination free from constraints and limitations. It allows them to experience possible future and past situations at present, at their imagined present.

This system allows children to acquire knowledge and prepare for future ‘realities’.

Contrary philosophy allowed me to acquire technical and non-technical skills to exercise my future personal and professional career in a situation of liberty, with the capacity to contribute useful resources to other professionals and people.

The experimental system of knowledge acquisition involves the development of personal and distinct skills to other people favoring contribution and complementary production through difference and individuality.

At present we see how negative criticism is made on different architecture just because it is different. It is my belief we should focus criticism to the majority of buildings constructed recently that are indifferent, not adding anything to the architectural panorama. To buildings that are exclusively based on economic and market-related criteria with no relation to scientific, technological, aesthetic or ecological research. To buildings that have clogged our cities and environment. It is my belief that we should not negatively criticize architects who have opted for the path of differentiation, but to all those without courage or capacity to generate their own way of making architecture. To those who with indiscriminate and undifferentiated activity have devalued and degraded the architectural environment and quality of our urban surroundings. These architects, unaware of new technologies in the world at present, and their new aesthetic and scientific implications, continue to produce projects in the same way or even worse than the ones made before of the advent of new technologies. They fill our lives with de-contextualized, reactionary, harmful architecture. They are protected and shielded by insufficient laws and regulations of minimum architectural standards that permit them to make architecture with no quality and no vision; Unjust and antisocial; With the permission of governments, in the pursuit of economic benefits that are particularly abusing; In the expense of ruining and indebting individuals who compose society; Taking advantage of their longing for a better quality of life encouraged by consumerism and marketing, tools of manipulation and control of people’s needs and desires.

Negative criticism should be directed to these social agents. Among them are many architects without ethic who exercise their harmful activities with impunity at the expense of the most vulnerable.

I see committed architecture is always different, not indifferent.

(ab- + diff-) realism ™ | big+AI digital – sketching

To situate (us) and put (us) a bit in the context of the present, I consider that we are in what I call the era of ‘r-evolution’. It is no longer a question of ‘revolution’, understood as a process of ‘totalitarian’ change from ‘one’ reality to ‘another’. Rather, we are immersed in the era of constant evolution at all scales, levels and sizes, which, in short, makes up a panorama in a permanent state of change, of search, of ‘r-evolution’.

Starting with software, present in (almost) all human professions and tasks, the ‘r-evolution’ of technology leads us to a new way of being in the world, that of the transitory, the updates, and, in short, the constant transformation of ways of thinking, acting and functioning. Today the idea of permanence cannot be maintained, nor of the definitive, nor of the stable. Rather, we are in the endless moment of the next enhancement, the latest bug fix, and the next version.

In the field that concerns me personally, design in general and architectural and urban design in particular, there is no longer a place for the ‘definitive design’, nor for the ‘masterpiece’, for some time now, decades.

Personally, I have never believed in what some call ‘Architecture with capital letters’. Every time I hear it mentioned, I get the feeling that the term is only trying to confuse and/or deceive, both to those it is addressed to and to the one who uses it. Claiming to be the bearer of such an arrogant privilege is trying to deceive the whole of society in favor of oneself or of some kind of pretentious ideology. I doubt that any architect who has really faced (head on, naked, without the ‘help’ of doctrines, idealized ‘references’ or supposed ‘truths’) the process of architectural design, dares to grant himself the title of the bearer of such a fallacy (I do believe, however, in the unfortunate existence of ‘architecture’ that does not deserve that name: constructions that clutter our cities, that force many people to live in conditions that deserve to be described as inhumane and for which they will have to pay for the rest of their days).

Today, more markedly than ever before, architectural creation processes, like all creative processes, are full of errors, failed tests, failed attempts and disproven false ideas. The creative process is an endless chain of correcting mistakes, not accumulating successes. Only by making mistakes can we perhaps be right. Only by trying can we perhaps achieve. Nothing else.

Also personally, I have never expected to have (nor have I waited for it) a ‘good’ commission or ‘client’ to show off my skills, one of those that many of architects dream of. One of those wealthy ‘commissions’ or ‘clients’ who will pay for their dreams of greatness and will pay them their thanks with wealthy (in turn) fees, homage and admiration that will elevate them to the Olympus of the ‘gods of architecture’.

Rather, I humbly intend to serve society by improving my abilities day by day, correcting my mistakes, learning not to expect rewards and daring to fail time after time without changing my personality or my way of thinking, and without deceiving anyone (starting with myself).

This personal process that I undertook when I finished my studies (at which point I stripped myself of all mental artifice, all ideological construction and all false appearance) has led me here, to this day, to the present moment in which ‘artificial intelligence’ breaks in to once again stir up all kinds of preconceived ideas, methodologies and approaches to the design process as we understood it.

During these last few months, I have dedicated myself to investigating this new ‘intelligence’ to better express my ideas, to achieve better and more attractive representations of them with which to try to communicate them with more clarity and forcefulness.

I believe that, even today, ‘artificial intelligence’ is a great support tool for exploring and evaluating alternatives, but always based on the search for a clear and concrete prior conceptual objective. This new tool offers us (can offer us) a multitude of results at breakneck speed. How to choose/decide between so many possibilities, alternatives and variations offered by this new ‘intelligence’? Therein lies the difficulty. Therein lies the challenge.

In my personal case, I have an objective and some specific ideas/concepts to communicate/express:

I believe that the way forward for architecture at this time is its integration with engineering and urban design, in what I have come to call ‘macro-cities’ through what I call ‘urban engitecture’.

The objectives of ‘urban engitecture’ are clear: to contribute forcefully to achieving sustainability and quality of life in cities.

My basic (disruptive) idea is that buildings are obstacles that condition, limit and hinder us: both mobility in general and the quality of public spaces are directly affected by them in a very negative and permanent way. The solution I propose is to free the ground level by ‘elevation’. This simple idea also provides another series of additional advantages of great importance with respect to security, stability and quality of life conditions in general:

I explore the actual possibilities in architecture and urban planning starting from simple issues such as building another type of city, drastically reducing pollution while improving living standards, guaranteeing structural stability despite considerable heights in high-rise building, fostering transportation and mobility at different heights, offering multiple escape alternatives in emergency cases, freeing the ground level for its use as public space, having good lighting, ventilation and viewing qualities for everyone, generating a feeling of community. In brief:

  • improving structural stability
  • safety
  • free ground-level
  • green mobility (easy, economic, ecological)
  • more and better urban public-spaces
  • better and wider architectural living-conditions
  • social/community feeling/belonging
  • improving quality of living standards

I arrived at these ideas and concepts at the time not by ‘divine inspiration’, nor by possessing any kind of ‘extraordinary capacity’, but by experimenting with numerous geometric and organizational possibilities. In fact, I always emphasize that none of my designs can or should be understood as an isolated product, but as a link in a long chain of trials and errors.

For years (long before ‘artificial intelligence’ appeared as a tool within the reach of the majority) I devoted myself to exploring computer generated geometry. For decades, computer-aided geometric generation has offered us ‘infinite possibilities’. My job for decades has been to explore these possibilities. It could be said that for decades I myself have functioned as an ‘artificial intelligence’ producing a large number of geometric variations, configurations and possibilities.

The ‘ab-realism’ section of my work contains my latest designs made using ‘conventional’ 3d generation techniques, and pursues the objectives described above for the integration of engineering, urbanism and architecture. Its purposes, in turn, are those mentioned above to improve the quality of our urban environments from multiple and basic perspectives and objectives.

At present I continue in the same line, but also assisted by ‘artificial intelligence’. My previous work (my personal and professional process) continues, but now at a much faster speed and with much more interesting and visually appealing results.

Now I can contribute my previous drawings (some of my architectural and urban designs, contained in my other publication entitled ‘hyper-irrealism’, and in ‘ab-realism’) to ‘artificial intelligence’ to serve as ‘inspiration’ and generate new variations, new configurations and new possibilities.

The ‘diff-realism’ section of my work contains the result of the interaction of previous ideas and concepts that drive my work as an architect and ‘artificial intelligence’.

Most probably, complete projects (planimetry, construction documentation, etc.) will soon be able to be produced with the help of ‘artificial intelligence’. What is today a visualization/conceptualization tool will soon be a production/construction tool. We will soon see how other computer technologies and techniques will be integrated by ‘artificial intelligence’ allowing us to connect a ‘digital sketch’ with a constructive reality. The most immediate thing that we will see will be how 3D printing, digital production (mechanical cutting, assembly, etc.) and robotics are integrated with these new current ‘sketch’ and ‘brainstorming’ tools.

In the not-too-distant future we will have hierarchical ‘artificial intelligences’. We will have ‘artificial intelligences’ of ‘direction’ and ‘production’ interconnected, forming authentic teams of ‘artificial intelligences’ for the generation of reality.

At diffjustdiff.com can be found some of my ideas and concepts (the ones I consider to be of most interest) without (hyperirrealism, ab- realism) and with (diff- realism) the help of ‘artificial intelligence’ for the generation of ‘digital sketches’. Perhaps soon they can become projects and realities that help part of humanity to live in better conditions and with less impact on nature, the environment and the planetary ecosystem in general.

(future- + inner-) realism ™ | AI digital – sketching

In the present (in the future, and already for decades) we are faced with human limitations for the acceptance that computers can perform jobs (many and very varied) much better than humans.

In many aspects and professions computers have only been used as substitutes for other more primitive tools. In many cases they have only been partially accepted to continue performing the same tasks and in the same way that they were done before.

They have been blamed for their defects (which they obviously have and will have) more as an excuse for not adapting to them than as constructive criticism. In many and varied ways many have questioned their ‘results’, their ‘limitations’ and their ‘supposed virtues’. In all these cases I consider they have only demonstrated their own limitations and their own ignorance.

Computers are, have been, and will continue to be a great opportunity for experimentation, for the search for alternatives and solutions, but only for those who are willing to accept their virtues, capabilities, and advantages. Those who do not or are unable to do so will continue to underuse them, criticize them, and feel above them. Each one makes his/her choices and takes advantage (or not) of the opportunities that their historical moment offers us.

The incipient ‘artificial intelligence’ is another of these milestones that comes hand in hand and derived from computers and where those same human limitations are seen and will be seen to accept and value the advantages that it can offer us, personally and collectively.

As always happens and has happened with other tools, inventions and discoveries in the past, there will be those who want to use ‘artificial intelligence’ for purposes that are not very ‘humanitarian’, or of little or no benefit for the advancement and improvement of societies. This will only speak badly of human nature once again, but not of ‘artificial intelligence’ itself.

There will also be those who wish or want to stop its development arguing about its dubious benefit for ‘humanity’, the supposed ‘dangers’, etc.

Personally, I believe that if we are not capable of taking advantage of the advantages that ‘artificial intelligence’ offers us to improve things, it will not be because of its defects, but because of ours, it will not be because of its limitations, but because of ours, it will not be because of its ‘robotic’ nature but because of our ‘human’ nature.

Unfortunately, it is all too human to ‘blame’, ‘limit’, ‘pervert’ and ‘misuse’ the resources we have, time after time.

For years I have devoted myself alone to the search for new ‘optimal’ ways of inhabiting alternatives that would solve the problems that design and the practice of architectural and urban use have caused the vast majority of us. During these years I have been able to witness how the majority of architects and urban planners continued to carry out the same activities and in the same way that they did before the appearance of computers. The pencil was transformed into a mouse, but to continue performing its same functions. Nothing changed therefore in their methods, nor in their results. A sad reality.

I have seen how the enormous capacities of computers were governed by ‘heads’ of architecture studios without the ability to see the enormous potential in them. ‘Thinking heads’ at the top of the decision-making hierarchy who did not know (and refused to learn and know) how to properly use a computer to improve their work processes, and their results.

I have seen the great machinery of the construction sector continue to produce without stopping to observe, to understand, to learn, to improve.

I have seen how short-term economic benefit has been the only engine for millions and millions of people, the engine that has led us to the present with all its problems that could have been avoided if we had not been so ‘human’.

I believe that architectural and urban design is largely responsible for the current situation of unsustainability that we suffer, and I also believe that it is due to its enormous reluctance to change, to learn from its own mistakes, to evolve. And computers (with all their capabilities) have been and are the great opportunity to do it, but we need to want to do it.

It takes a lot of humility to deal with computers. A lot of willingness to learn is necessary to be able to use a computer properly. As long as these two factors continue to be in short supply, we will continue to fail.

With respect to the incipient and recent appearance of ‘artificial intelligence’, I believe that the same ones without humility or who ‘fear’ it, are those who consider it ‘a danger’, those who make it ‘inhuman’, in the same way they did with computers in the past.

I don’t intend, wish or want to anticipate the effects of ‘artificial intelligence’, I just want to explore it, try to understand it and improve my work with its help. Without further ado, with my best will, humbly.

Does ‘realism’ exist? Possibly it does, although not in absolute terms, but rather as ‘more’ or ‘less’ realistic perceptions.

The term ‘realism’ is commonly used as a form of perception that is based on ‘external’ reality, in the way external phenomena work and without the involvement of internal factors such as emotions, feelings, subjectivities and different forms of being. Is this possible? Perhaps, but only to a greater or lesser extent depending on the degree of abstraction from oneself that each one is capable of reaching.

This ‘outer’ form of realism, however, rejects, negates or avoids what I would call ‘inner’ realism, that of the previously mentioned emotions, feelings and subjectivities constituting each one’s psyche.

Both forms of ‘realism’ are somewhat at odds, since they are mutually exclusive to a great extent. From this arise countless ‘internal’ and ‘external’ conflicts due to one or another form of ‘realism’, since both often and easily contradict each other.

Which of these forms of ‘realism’ is more ‘valid’? It depends on what each one observes, its ‘inner’ or its ‘outer’. The first is a more or less introspective, self-referential and epicentral way. The second is a more or less extroverted, impersonal and ascetic perception.

However, I believe, neither of these two forms of perception can or do exist in a pure state, in absolute independence from the other. Therein lies the difficulty of living, of personal and interpersonal conflicts.

What is the most ‘practical’ way of thinking/perceiving these two ways of being in the world? That also depends on what is considered ‘practical’. Usually ‘practical’ people tend to base themselves on ‘outer’ ‘realism’ but their objectives tend to be precisely personal, interested and manipulative. On the contrary, ‘inner’ ‘realism’ tends to be considerate of others, altruistic and outward-focused.

A strange contradiction between ‘inner’ ‘realism’ and ‘outer’ ‘realism’ of ‘practical’ between one and another way of being.

Personally, I prefer the ‘inner’ ‘realism’, since I consider it more honest with oneself and of greater ‘practical’ interest collectively, since it pursues, encourages, combines personal and social growth simultaneously. The ‘external’ ‘realism’, however, usually ‘wins’ since it is easier and faster for it to achieve its objectives, but I believe that it should not be considered for this reason better than that other ‘inner’ ‘realism’ that seeks the general and future benefits.

(another- + new-) realism ™ | AI digital – sketching

I asked ChatGPT two questions that could help me introduce the ‘(another- + new-) realism’ concept.

Question 1:
Is there one common reality and realism for all?

The concept of reality and realism can be complex, and whether there is one common reality for all individuals is a topic that has been debated by philosophers, scientists, and scholars for centuries. There are different philosophical positions on the nature of reality, and perspectives on realism can vary. Here are some key points to consider:

1. Objective Reality: Many philosophical realists argue that there is an objective reality that exists independently of individual perception or belief. In this view, there is one common reality that is the same for all observers. This objective reality is often associated with the physical world and the laws of nature.

2. Perception and Subjectivity: However, others argue that individual perception and subjectivity play a significant role in shaping one’s experience of reality. From this perspective, what one person perceives as reality may not be identical to what another person perceives. Variations in perception, interpretation, and cultural background can lead to different understandings of reality.

3. Constructivism: Some scholars and philosophers propose a constructivist view, suggesting that individuals construct their own realities based on their mental frameworks, beliefs, and experiences. In this view, there may not be one common reality, but rather multiple subjective realities.

4. Consensus Reality: Within the social context, there is a concept known as “consensus reality.” This idea suggests that societies and communities create shared understandings of reality through cultural norms, beliefs, and social agreements. While individual perceptions may differ, there is a common reality constructed within a particular social or cultural group.

5. Quantum Mechanics: In the realm of physics, quantum mechanics introduces challenges to the notion of a single, objective reality. Some interpretations of quantum physics suggest that the act of measurement can influence the state of particles, leading to the idea that reality may be inherently uncertain or observer-dependent.

In summary, the question of whether there is one common reality for all individuals is complex and multifaceted. Philosophical, scientific, and cultural perspectives on reality and realism can vary, and different theories offer different answers to this question. Some argue for the existence of an objective reality, while others emphasize the role of perception and subjectivity in shaping individual understandings of reality. The nature of reality continues to be a topic of philosophical and scientific exploration and debate.

Question 2:
Is reality and realism individually and collectively modifying?

The nature of reality and the concept of realism can indeed be subject to modification and evolution, both individually and collectively. Here are some ways in which reality and realism can change:

1. Scientific Advancement: Scientific discoveries and advancements can lead to modifications in our understanding of reality. As new evidence emerges and scientific theories evolve, our perception of the physical world can change. For example, our understanding of the universe has significantly evolved with the discoveries made in cosmology and astrophysics.

2. Technological Advancements: Technology has the power to reshape our perception of reality. Innovations in virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and artificial intelligence (AI) are expanding the boundaries of human experience and altering how we interact with the world.

3. Cultural and Social Change: Societal and cultural shifts can also impact our perception of reality and what is considered “real.” Changes in cultural norms, values, and beliefs can lead to shifts in our collective understanding of reality, including our perceptions of social constructs such as gender and identity.

4. Philosophical Inquiry: Philosophical thought has historically played a role in shaping our understanding of reality and realism. New philosophical perspectives and debates can lead to modifications in our conceptualization of reality, such as discussions about the nature of consciousness and the mind.

5. Perception and Individual Experience: On an individual level, our perceptions and experiences continually shape our personal understanding of reality. Personal growth, learning, and exposure to new ideas can lead to modifications in one’s worldview and beliefs about what is real.

6. Collective Beliefs and Consensus Reality: In a collective sense, societies and communities can collectively modify their shared understanding of reality. Cultural, political, and historical events can influence how a group of people perceives and defines reality. This is often referred to as “consensus reality.”

7. Communication and Media: The ways in which information is communicated and disseminated, especially through mass media and digital platforms, can influence public perceptions of reality. Media can shape public opinion and collective beliefs about what is real and important.

8. Psychological and Cognitive Factors: Cognitive processes and biases can influence how individuals perceive and interpret reality. Psychological research has shown that individuals may have cognitive biases that affect their perception of events and information.

In summary, reality and realism are not static concepts; they can evolve and change over time due to a variety of factors, including scientific progress, technological advancements, cultural shifts, philosophical developments, and individual experiences. Our understanding of what is real and what constitutes realism is influenced by a dynamic interplay of these factors, both at the individual and collective levels.

These two answers can help us understand reality and realism as not permanent, nor static, nor absolute concepts. Rather, we can understand them as changing, modifying, mutable over time.

From this point I ask myself: If reality and realism are transforming ideas and concepts, why shouldn’t we force them? Why shouldn’t we drive them towards ‘another-realism’ and a ‘new-realism’?

Maybe due to this evolving and changing character of reality and realism we can drive them towards ‘utopia’. Maybe ‘utopia’ is not unreachable. Maybe ‘utopia’ is not so much a utopia. Maybe, to be fully realistic, we also need to dream a better reality and realism.

‘Reality’ and ‘realism’ change may not be direct, nor instantaneous, but why not start ‘dreaming’ now? Why not start pushing ‘reality’ and ‘realism’ now? There is no more time to waste. Let’s start!

(super- + real-) realism ™ | AI digital – sketching

I would dare to say that the living conditions of many inhabitants of large cities are worse (in some ways) than those of those so-called ‘underdeveloped’ places.

After this sentence (which does not claim to be absolutely true, but rather the reflection of an intuition) I’ll clarify what I consider that the term ‘quality of life’ (somewhat diffuse and imprecise in its general use) could mean:

– Amount of space per inhabitant, both private and public in their nearby living environments.
– Quality of said nearby spaces (own and common), that is, air pollution, noise pollution, light and visual pollution (disharmonious and unnatural objects).
– Personal and psychological security (little possibility of violence of any kind: intimidation, theft, aggression (verbal and/or physical), manipulation.
– Quality of human relationships (empathy, friendship, belonging to the community) and towards the environment that sustains our lives (respect for our own, other people’s and common environments).
– Less exposure to consumerist manipulations and commercial marketing in all its manifestations.
– Contact with the natural environment and roots in its culture.

With these six points (I’m sure there could be more) I try to define what I think the term ‘quality of life’ could mean in terms of people’s well-being and ‘well-feeling’.

Of course (as Maslow already defined with his pyramid of human needs) the maintenance of life basically requires the provision of food and environmental health as fundamental elements on a physical level.
I think that, currently, in large cities it is difficult to satisfy the other six points mentioned above, being perhaps satisfied to a greater extent in small-scale urban environments, included in many of those that are classified as underdeveloped.

With this I do not intend to downplay the serious problems that exist in ‘underdeveloped’ countries, but rather to draw attention to the poor living conditions endured by many of the inhabitants of large cities in many so-called ‘developed’ countries, or, what I would call, ‘mal-developed’ countries.

I consider that this poor development has occurred mostly in recent decades and as a consequence of multiple (countless) partial, local and minor actions in the form of a chaotic accumulation of ‘solutions’ to specific problems, lacking planning with a vision of the future and without order or concert.

This form of action and cumulative, erratic and punctual growth has led us to the current levels of unsustainability and low quality of life in many urban environments.

I believe that bad urban environments and low quality of life affect us on many levels, including psychological, emotional, coexistence, trust, hope, etc., in addition to the functional levels of mobility, comfort…, as well as those other less ‘objective’ ones such as aesthetic and ethical.

Added to this aforementioned deficient urban planning in many places is the economic system, which favors it by superimposing individual benefits over general interests.

Also added to this panorama are the differences, confrontations and/or separation between disciplines such as engineering, architecture and urban planning, each acting largely on its own.

I do not believe I have the solution to this entire complex network of problems, but I can clearly imagine that the solution could begin by carrying out another type of planning that is more efficient, more coordinated, less fragmented, less surgical, and, above all, with more vision of the future and fewer particular (economic) interests.

I propose what I call ‘urban-engitecture’ as a concept of collaboration and mutual commitment between the three previously mentioned disciplines.

I believe that we have important knowledge that is being ignored, underused, pigeonholed, mutually between these three disciplines; very useful knowledge if it is combined properly, if we cooperate, if we look for joint solutions beyond the usual, beyond particular interests and, above all, with a long-term vision.

I also believe that this phenomenon of ‘mal-development’ (or urban obsolescence) is very widespread, and that the countries that will be able to implement a real solution will be those with the greatest capacity to radically transform their urban fabrics towards more efficient organizations.

My interesting experience as a professor of architecture and urban planning in China tells me that this country will be, given its characteristics, one of the most capable of making drastic and radical changes in its urban fabrics. Its policies in this sense can be carried out given the great operational capacity in both the short and long term.

During my stay in China in 2013 I was able to witness this great operational capacity for eviction and regeneration (reconstruction) of entire neighborhoods, even central ones, with large-scale and ambitious projects. I consider this capacity necessary in order to be able to effectively deal with the new demands to which urban environments are and will be subjected in the present and in the future. Other countries without this operational capacity will only be able to continue trying to solve specific problems by accumulating partial solutions, but with little success at a general level.

Perhaps the ‘mystery’ of the construction of ‘ghost cities’ in China responds to this idea and policy of mass evictions for the effective and rapid reconstruction/regeneration of large sectors of other obsolete urban environments.

Towards this sense of radical urban reform is what I have directed and direct my efforts and my work:

I consider that urban environments are an integral part of our organism as a species, and that, as Darwin already defined, ‘the species that last are those with the greatest capacity to adapt to change’, or to change, I would say.

In my humble opinion, I allow myself to advocate in favor of the convenience of opting for urban regeneration rather than continuing to carry out costly urban reform works to try to solve problems derived from obsolete urban fabrics or unadapted to current and future needs.

I raise this question even knowing that it may be wrong, inadequate and/or considered unviable.

I am aware that economically and in the short and medium term these actions of adding to what already exists can be advantageous and/or affordable. However, I believe that in the current situation of unsustainability and lack of adequate habitability conditions for many cities and buildings it might be more advisable to think and act in the long term.

Surely, and sooner than expected, these additive works based on and on top of what already exists will once again become obsolete and insufficient, and their execution will in turn respond to the provision of a real estate stock that is deficient from the beginning.

I believe that it is more durable and beneficial in the long term to make economic investments along the lines of architectural and urban regeneration with new criteria of sustainability and habitability.

Furthermore, additive works, especially mobility engineering, often add even more habitability problems to their immediate surroundings, and/or provide means of transportation that may be of poor quality (without natural ventilation or lighting, with security problems in cases of emergency, and complicated accessibility on many occasions).

Sooner or later, we will find ourselves in the forced situation of regenerating our urban environments, of improving the quality of buildings, of acting in a comprehensive and integrated manner.

I believe that many urban environments are at the point of having to decide between continuing in that kind of current irresponsible flight forward, or facing our long-term needs in an effective and lasting way. Even if it takes longer. Better slow but well-written, in my humble opinion.

The big problem of high-rise buildings

The big problem of high-rise buildings is not their height (personally I am fascinated by heights), but their excessive slenderness (little base for a lot of height).

There are those who (without much basis and with little height) use symbolic, metaphorical speeches, etc., in their criticism of high-rise buildings. That will not be my case, since I understand that there are other issues much more important and plausible than these other speeches of a personal and ideological nature. That will not be my case, I repeat, I consider that other type of speech ridiculous and banal.

Getting into the matter: the problem with so-called skyscrapers is their own geometric shape, their height/width ratio, or slenderness.

Slenderness is inversely proportional to its structural stability. The slenderer they are, the less structural safety and the greater the risk of collapse in the face of horizontal actions (forces) such as those caused by earthquakes or winds. I think the exposition is, so far, clear and sufficient:

– The big problem with tall buildings is not their height, but their narrowness, which leads to structural instability.

In my opinion, structural stability is a fundamental characteristic and of great importance to guarantee the life (survival) of its inhabitants/users. Perhaps the most important and priority question in architecture, above any other argument or interest.

The next point would be how to solve/avoid this serious structural and public safety problem of high-rise buildings?
The answer is also simple:

– If, instead of building ‘isolated’ tall structures, we built them horizontally interconnected at different heights, we would make them function as a single superstructure, greatly limiting horizontal displacements due to earthquakes or winds, and largely avoiding the possibility of overturning and/or collapse.

Additionally, these horizontal ‘connecting’ elements at different heights can be used as ‘bridges’ of communication between one building and another, as high-rise public spaces, or any other use that our imagination may suggest to us, like, for example, providing multiple sideward escape options in emergency cases.

No more, no less.

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... diffjustdiff [ experimental ‑ thinking ] ...

(hyper | super) irrealism‑s & (@- + i-ab- + diff-future- + inner-another- + new-super- + real-) realism‑s

... by ale girá [ thinker, PhD. architect designer & urban planner, and artist ]

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