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The Kiasmatic Solution

 

One more idea, one more concept….one more word ...and one more solution. There is always room for one more! Not for the first time has one word been given such treatment. Been made to look more profound than before. After all, what are words without people’s perceptions of them. What would they mean if nobody attributed any meaning to them?
Not for the first time has a word been so glorified by attributing many meanings to it. Until all that is left is the word – plain and hollow – in the memory of those who wrote about it or read about it. This….is not that time.
Kiasma implies intersection. X . And that’s about all the defining it needs. Because what is important here is not the word, but what led to it….and what it led us to.
Lets take a break from Stephen Holl and apply Kiasma. What could intersect with architecture. Nothing? Everything? Would ‘architecture’ be perfect if it were a separate entity, alienated from all its influences? Is architecture about perfection at all??
They are questions like these which always accumulate at the back of every designer’s mind. And in their quest to seek answers they sometimes come across places like Curitiba and names such as Jaime Lerner.



The place, at the verge of chaos due to urban assault and the name, a nobody in an architectural school. What followed is history…to be read and learnt and replicated. The end-product was a Curitiba which is now one of the greatest cities of the contemporary world, has the best mass transit system in the world, has 150 sqft. of green area per inhabitant (4 times the standard by WHO) and, as you might have guessed by now, has the healthiest living environs in an urban setup. Hard to imagine this state for a town which had its population tripled in a space of 20 years! (1940-1960).
Again, what is important here is not the end product, but the process that led to it …and where that will lead us. The successful transformation of Curitiba was not due to sensitive or good or creative ‘design’ – though all of these might have played their part. The success was due to the people who understood their role in the transformation. It was due to the ‘planners’ who showed them what and how. It was….due to the architects who were designing for those who needed it – the PEOPLE. It was due to a man who got into a position where he could make a difference. And it was due to that same man, who understood ‘his’ role in running the machinery of the world efficiently.
A designer can never see his design in isolation. He would do well, if he sees it as a part of a continuum – an action which will have a reaction -…. to which he owes a responsibility of understanding and continuing in sync.

“Architecture is the will of an epoch translated into space.”

Kiasma has taken us beyond that quotation. It has led us to believe that the ‘will’ can be directed. And the directors are the ones who are reading this now.
Architecture can never be about perfection. It is always about balance. Between built and unbuilt, between green and grey, between past and present, between now and future, rich and poor, high and low, dense and sparse, blue and brown….between need and provision. Those, very simply put, are the two lines that make Kiasma. And where they intersect lies your architecture…in perfect balance.

compulsory reading : http://www.commondreams.org/cgi-bin/print.cgi?file=/views05/1108-33.htm

Written For : NASA Zonal Magazine 2006.