Or how uncertainty forces us to dissolve our pre-established limits.
As we understand it, certainty is the undeniable and irrefutable knowledge of something. It defines finished realities with clear, recognizable borders. Certainty is what we feel about everything we have been taught and that we take for granted – everything that makes any kind of reflection or further study unnecessary. When defining our reality, certainty compels us to substitute the rational analysis processes with those based on memorization.
Uncertainty, as the antonym of certainty, appears as the opportunity to generate necessary thinking processes that respond to the realities of changing or unknown nature, those with limits that cannot be defined, or those which do not have any limits at all. Uncertainty, therefore, influences the nature of our certainties by eliminating their steadiness and forcing their evolution.
The disruptive emergence of the coronavirus in December 2019, a month after choosing the theme for the spanish pavilion, has turned out to be the latest nature's realization of what Bauman explained with his Liquid Modernity: the current socioeconomic reality makes humans navigate in the seas of uncertainty. Society has become a figure of constant and transitory change, tied to educational, cultural, and economic factors.
Already before the pandemic, we lived in reality, in which the volatility of all processes called for the opening of the limits of our certainties to allow them to evolve. Even so, our community ignored this situation and continued to maintain outdated architectural models supported by pre-established systems. We have been defending them out of comfort, customs, and, above all, profitability.
Now, our post-pandemic society cries out for the opening of spaces for reflection and new solutions for certainties that have proven to have a strikingly temporary character. The situation forces us to recognize the heterogeneous growth of certainties and the need for new strategies flexible enough to adapt to the existence of the uncertain, constantly changing future.
The so-called new normality demands from architecture the actions that will open the existing limits between the predefined antagonisms and eventually break them permanently. Concepts closely conditioned by the economic and cultural factors must now merge and blur their borders. This way, they will become open, allowing the appearance of the indeterminate processes that our liquid society demands. Thus, we will gain the necessary tools to act against any new threats for the future of our coexistence.
The spanish pavilion presents Uncertainty – a selection of actions that hybridize and expand the competences of architecture to face new social demands. Uncertainty blurs imposed disciplinary and conceptual boundaries that have ended up becoming principles. It creates open concepts from realities previously perceived as antagonistic.
[anthropocentric] [ecocentric] → - anthropocentric ecocentric -
[inside] [outside] → - inside outside -
[innovative] [traditional] → - innovative traditional -
[individual] [collective] → - individual collective -
[playful] [productive] → - playful productive -
[virtual] [physical] → - virtual physical -
The exhibited works transform into a unique catalog of architectural strategies necessary to face the future of our coexistence and its implications, including the social and environmental levels.
The exhibition unravels how social atomization – resulting from the variability of responses to the uncertainty that we all have experienced – does not eliminate the possibility of forming a group or a community, nor it pushes us into individualism. Hence, the pavilion's central room becomes a volume made out of hundreds of heterogeneous individuals floating in space who, regardless of their physical and conceptual distance, interact to build a single and recognizable body. It becomes a set of different architectures that, like the entire profession, do not lose its ability to define a common path despite being constantly transformed by its interactions with unexpected external forces.
Uncertainty urges us to open our certainties, by focusing on exploring their limits and showcasing the actions that allow different dimensions of reality to become open, dynamic, and adaptable processual elements. It shows a future in which uncertainty, as a design strategy, has become the primary tool to transform our processes and social models, breaking individualism in favor of coexistence.
Is uncertainty our only certainty?
- Bauman, Zygmunt: Liquid Modernity, Cambridge: Polity Press, 2000.