Oct 23, 2012

Architecture in Albania | A Gentle Manifest


Architecture has less to do with interior decoration and much more with policy and education. Change can't come with building beautiful objects for people that don't know or can't ever appreciate a better lifestyle and quality of life. This holds especially true to developing countries (Albania in this case).

Architecture shouldn't be revolutionary when there is no proper functioning and healthy infrastructures, such as roads to take you home, safe and drinkable running water, electricity or unsustainable waste and pollution that's present in all public areas as soon as you leave the beautifully arranged private apartment.

Architecture shouldn't be Revolutionary without being Evolutionary first. It should work to educate individuals on how to better their immediate surroundings by changing their habits for a safer well being. It should allow these individuals to come together and show this change in public spaces day in and day out. It should mediate a stronger and real synergy and collaboration between policymakers and people, to encourage healthier, happier, and ultimately discover that latent potential of revolutionary change.

So, how are we going to get the change that is on everyone's mind these days?

Not by saying it, not by posting it, not by protesting, not by being confrontational, not by blaming the other - but by educating citizens and government to allow, to push and make it happen; to discover the potential of a better quality of life; to embrace individual and community growth that will result in positive city progress and ultimately form a solid and much needed indisputable national identity. At least architects can help build that in a way.

How long will today's status-quo hold?
Well you be the judge.

Uneducated self made millionaires are interested only in expensively arranging the interior of their homes.
Uneducated self made millionaires drive expensive cars in badly deteriorated roads.
The corrupted political system makes and break laws and public policies as if they are personal to-do lists.
Outdated infrastructures are barely holding up and soon will no longer be feasible to supply anything at all.
The rest of the population? Well everyone has an iphone, so life's good.

There's a lack of a productive/ successful public mindset, and an overwhelming, overcompensation of ego and bling.

People need to understand that they do not stand alone, independent from what surrounds them. They're part of an ecology, a very complex entropic system that makes life happen. They need to look at this bigger picture instead of just circling the edge. They're letting things fall through the cracks so consistently fast that they won't be able to grab onto the lifelines it can provide. An individual success story can be the greatest thing, it can stimulate the ego and parade the bling. I have nothing against it. But what this says to me, is that it is static in such an environment. It has reached its max. That's all it can do (ego+bling), nothing more.

If the community or the city you live in is struggling to have the most basic viable infrastructural needs (water, electricity, safety) then millionaires are no better off than the rest of us. They live in the same broken environment. The change they've made in their lives is and will remain static in a place that doesn't offer the best quality of life for them. So they should be the first ones to initiate a stronger public mindset and productive change.

What happens next then?

Change, some say. That's the problem, because when we think change, everyone thinks a revolution - and that's the wrong immediate intervention tactic for a long-term strategy of change.

I agree that change comes from the people, it needs to come from them, but only if they participate - and not only by being present in protests or playing the blame game, but by changing their daily behaviors towards their own immediate surroundings, by educating themselves to a better quality of life, by being independent but considerate thinkers, and by taking action on all this. 

To be courageous and to change means to be a lot more curious about your potential in it and what it offers.
I write this because I believe people have the ability and the will to change.
I write this because this particular developing country has a lot to offer; opportunities and latent potential to get better and give its citizens the fullest quality of life.

Change can be slow, in this case even slower but it should not be static.


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