Building on Buildings

Adaptation and Continuity

Rafael Moneo 

I have read in Rem Koolhaas that cities are like clouds. I like that image. The form of the city as cloud in constant movement. Its form today, at this precise moment, comes from that of yesterday, from the moment that was. And its materiality prompts us to look into the mechanisms that make a new built form emerge. Insofar as architecture is responsible for the form of cities, I am disposed to think that it is architecture, too, that gives cause to introduce the concept of continuity, a concept that helps us understand which can be the answer to the world of the already built. A world in which the acknowledgement of the reality that the past was and the anticipation of what the future will be, are implicit at the same time. That is why the idea of continuity, a concept that has nothing to do with that of mere conservatism, is key when it comes to intervening on cities. And for this reason, being aware of this commitment to the urban fabric is the first step towards the construction of the public space, because the city remains and changes at the same time. So understood the city is an ‘open game,’ a solitaire in which our duty is to add new cards that transform, but do not destroy, the pattern and print of those other ones that we had encountered... [+]

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