Complex Crises_ Crises in Complexity

Project Details

Student/s: Chalkia Argyri, Chatzipantazi Dimitra

Date: May 10, 2016

Which is the real role of the architect in crucial and traumatic circumstances, like the ones humanity is facing, nowadays? This constitutes the main question of this Research Thesis. In a continuously changing and evolving environment, where new conditions are constantly emerging, crises and threatening situations appear. This is the moment that the role of the architect becomes critical. Under extreme conditions they are required to demonstrate their value as a basic adjuster of the society. The economic crisis that Greek society is facing nowadays, the incessant war of the Asian World, religious conflicts, as well as fragmented revolts around the world, constitute only several examples that triggered this inquiry. Having noticed the close relationship and interaction between architecture and society, these events could not but immediately trigger our concern. We are, therefore, in this research project, studying crisis and trauma in combination with complexity, which constitutes an intrinsic characteristic of the information society. This research process does not intend to demonstrate specific design methods and solutions that architects should follow. We are not aiming at systematization or creation of a pattern, which responds to every traumatic and crucial possibility. Post-traumatic management has no manifesto, no canon. Besides, crisis and trauma exceeds any regularity, constituting an exception, a collection of singularities. The thesis is a manual, which investigates a new way of thinking over the complex, interconnected and constantly changing world. As Einstein responded when he was asked what was the most useful to him in developing the theory of relativity: “to understand how to think about the problem”. Consequently, as architects, we should perceive and comprehend the problem itself, in order to design effective solutions, especially under the adverse conditions of crises and traumatic situations.
Starting from the research over crisis, this thesis attempts to understand the deeper meaning of the term, as well as its characteristics and impact. Without bringing any discrimination on the different types of crises, the term is faced as an entirety, which inheres in every society, causing continuous fluctuations in its variables. These changes give rise to every original idea and creation. Of course, under no circumstances, could the trauma be overlooked and excluded from this research, since the meta-traumatic aftermath constitutes a great challenge for architectural management and design. Trauma, as the excessively new and unprecedented, exceeds every past experience and inhabits every society. As a result, the elaboration of its nature and its relation to space is necessary. The realization of the multiple and variable factors that lead to the emergence of that kind of crises and traumatic events results in the investigation of the concept of complexity, but only after a deep research over the environment in which they reveal, that is by definition a complex, dynamic system. So, this research approaches the Information Society, as the society is called nowadays, which is deluged by an abundance of unmanageable information. It consists of an immeasurable mass of complex systems, where a great number of undetermined variables interact in an unpredictable way. In this case, the idea of detailed predictability should be abandoned, whereas crisis and trauma should be accepted as intrinsic elements of every dynamic system that emerge at any place and time, even without any warning. As a result, the study of complexity, of complex systems and contingency is significant to be considered at the final part of our inquiry. Architecture always affects and is affected by the prevailing conditions of reality. Through the design methods, it has the power to contribute to the management of the social developments, under which people live and act. This is its main role and that is why architecture should take a critical posture and correspond effectively to the adverse situations of the current changing reality.

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