Posteado por: Es Cau | junio 7, 2012

ARCHITECTURE AND MAGIC

I picked a card, and then it vanished into the rest of the deck slipping through his fingers. Over and over, he cut the deck in different places while chatting to me about the fate of my choice, now being delivered up to the speed of his movements. I started losing sight of what was happening and at the same time his skill filled me with wonder. A few seconds later, completely disorientated, I gave up even trying to decipher what he was doing, knowing myself defeated, and simply let myself enjoy his dexterity, waiting expectantly for the final magical gesture that would deliver up the inevitable.

¿Estas preparado?
Are you ready?

Nicholas, very confident in his performance, turned black into red, hearts into spades, and sevens into fours, changing their positions with a whisper, and then with a snap he produced my card between his agile fingers. So simple and so fluid that it seemed to me that the magic was not a skill but a living part of him, his movements enveloped in a perfectly theatrical aura.

The magic of my son, the result of effort and perseverance, perfected by his determination to succeed in whatever he really enjoys and longs to do, reminds me of the magical potential of architecture and the architect, who manage to put chaos into order and transcribe them into a controlled and functional aesthetic.

Like Nicholas, architects juggle a thousand and one possibilities, a combination of uses, needs, aesthetics, technology, sustainability and balance, amongst others; and, like him, we need to become illusionists to conjure up an exceptional outcome that stops people in their tracks and causes jaws to drop before moving on to the explosion of something even more amazing than anticipated: the final work.

Manipular la geometría.
Manipulate the geometry.

Our deck of cards complements the four traditional suits with numerous other factors with different symbols and features, all of which interweave in a practically infinite list of possibilities which the architect, with his hat and wand, needs to put into order according to his technical and creative skills.

Curiously, the main common denominator involved in the tremendous difficulty of controlling the flow of the cards, their position in the deck and the coordination between suits and values, is the natural tendency to fulfil the second law of thermodynamics: in other words, the natural tendency for order to descend into chaos.

In these circumstances, the architect can only set himself up as the main protagonist and focus his attention on the creative side of the project, particularly on the interaction between every card and the total deck, before finally, magically, managing to order them in a sequence that guarantees the success of the finished work, which is nothing more than managing to faithfully pin down the essence of the project in a structural reality.

¿Me sigues?
Are you still with me?

What tends to happen is that in the course of the operation some of the cards get lost or magically change their number, colour, suit or position in the pack, and in this overriding chaos some of the players see the game going their way, moving the dynamic centre of the project towards uncontrolled areas that do not adhere to the governance of balance but to partisan leanings. More technical, more efficient, more easily built, and the most fearsome ‘ace’ of all, “cheaper”, put tremendous obstacles in the way of the final quality.

The architect, that conjurer of dreams, will shuffle the cards, cutting them, twirling his wand around at lash level, before finally managing to conceal his stealthy trick between his fingers and flourish the winning card from the folds of the third dimension; the ‘ace’ of functional order and aesthetics, the sought-after balance between every factor, for all the players. Order, project and works all seem to crystallize spontaneously at the right and most necessary time to spark off the final sequence.

From his three-dimensional hat he plucks the ultimate achievement of incalculable value. It emerges slowly and is validated with time, but architecture has this inherent value that distinguishes it from the other arts, and that is its magical capacity to unite art and function, to provide a formal mirror for society, and at the same time contribute to that society’s wellbeing, providing it with spaces and ambiences in which to live and develop their human emotions.

This is the ultimate trick, the last device of the architect/illusionist: uniting two variables that are so dissimilar when separate and yet so necessary together, not only in terms of the domestic construction of every life but also to feed the expressive and artistic needs of the soul.

Levitando el equilibrio.
Levitating the balance.

Thus the magician, disguised as an architect, continues his crusade to put a chaotic and dehumanized world into order, pulling out from his sleeves the most unusual challenges, from between his fingers cards as slender as threads, from his open palms decks of cards take flight, and all the while my son Nicholas completes his performance by levitating the seven of hearts while I watch him, silent and incredulous, like an architect standing before his work.

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