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Technical imagination

In architecture, what cannot be done is not.
| 27 January, 2020 |

What is the purpose of architecture if not to materialize an idea? How can this idea be materialized without imagining how it can become a reality?

From the most practical point of view, technique is not associated with an abstract thought, but with a constructive mechanism or search for an optimal solution for the realization of an idea, already almost defined in every sense. However, even if it is already focused on one plane, the technique of materialization is so complex, successful or interesting, it can even put the idea itself in crisis, empowering it, preventing it from losing its essence. In Creole: the architect thinks something, but until he gives the key to the client (who orders it) he doesn’t finish thinking about what he builds. Rather, the idea that was imagined, when putting it into practice will probably be built the same if it was very successful planning or can be modified during the work from the “imagination in-situ”.

An example of this can be the “decisions on site” that an architect can leave to chance when he elaborates the documentation, by decision or omission, knowing that in the process of materialization of the idea, the process of interpretation of the construction of the same will have a different development to the one planned and will be the “orange mean” of the process of previous thought.

Project thinking – I imagine what I am going to build, how it is going to be used, what influence it is going to have, and so many other things – has to be associated with a minimum imaginative realization of the idea, that is, “if what I imagine is viable”. A plan, not having the slightest possibility of construction or use, is nothing more than a drawing.

In this sense, when the architect finds himself faced with the need to think and then do, he needs innate or acquired techniques that arise through mechanism or intuition, relative to how he thinks, interprets and represents his idea about current or sought reality.

Understanding the idea as “knowledge” and the technique as “reality”, making a parallelism with that mechanism of passage from paper to materiality, we can quote Plato with the concept “…each idea is unique and immutable, while the things of the sensitive world are multiple and changing…”.

For him, the only way to access intelligible reality is through reason and understanding, understanding these as the practical realization of an idea, while the role of the senses is relegated and considered deceptive. The intelligible reality is the technical knowledge, lowering to reality the abstraction of the sensitive imagination, that can make reference to the previously mentioned on when a drawing is reduced to that and does not become “project”.

Knowing where we come from in order to know where we are going” is associated with technique, with what the architect has already seen can be done, or with his knowledge of building materials and techniques, so valuable that they allow him to innovate.

Therefore, the initial questions can be answered according to the look that each person has as a thinking being and their conclusion regarding the idea of the relationship between imagination, project and technique. In architecture, what cannot be done is not.

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