CONCRETE UTOPIAS FOR THE GREEN CITY
We are living in a great time of upheaval, in a time of change. The era of absolute rationalism is nearing its close.
The so-called responsible parties no longer know what they are doing. Suddenly professions are being accused which continue to do in good faith what hitherto seemed to be right.
But suddenly they are all guilty and lose any responsibility for their deeds.
The doctors, farmers, politicians, priests, economists, teachers, scientists, planners, architects, and artists, too. Suddenly they find themselves, and all of us, too, in the dock, quite like the vanquished erstwhile powerful figures in the Nuremberg trials.
There is a powerful prosecutor.
Visible to everyone,
present for everyone,
but completely underestimated.
Because it was thought – erroneously – that these were defenseless victims,
something like fair game or slaves without rights you can do what you want with without impunity.
For example: lock up, torture, eradicate down to the last of the species, poison – genetic alteration.
It is nature that is passing judgment: the indictment is tremendous. From the draining of marshes, regulation of rivers, destruction of riverside wetlands to monocultures, the squandering of energy to the impotence to be creatively active oneself – thousands of files would not suffice to accommodate this indictment.
Just take these examples.
The farmer systematically rapes the basis of our survival: He poisons, devastates, and sells the earth, forest, and meadows which have been entrusted to his hands, with an agribusiness mentality of satanic proportions.
In their race towards the limits of growth, the scientists and economists are still proceeding according to the law of squandering and destructive overexploitation and are sawing the branch they and all of us are sitting on, are hot in pursuit of the hallucination of efficiency and functionality, without realising that their calculations and inventions are leading precisely where they themselves do not want to go.
Contemporary art has become intellectual masturbation, ugly and empty, without beauty, without God, dumb, cold, and heartless.
The cultural-political claim to power of today’s avant-gardistic mafia is similar to the claim to power of the Third Reich, only the other way round.
The graphic artist now only supplies corroboration for intellectual theories, completely alienated from the creative laws of nature and from what man is longing for.
The architect is a cowardly jumping jack of unscrupulous clients. Like a war criminal and often against his own conscience, he obediently follows orders and builds concentration camps in which nature, life and the soul of man are destroyed.
What all the accusations against the professions, the responsible parties and all of us have in common is the crime against nature and the crime against creation. They are one and the same thing.
Nature, art, creation are the same. It’s just that we have separated them. If we rape the creation of nature and if we destroy the creation in us, we destroy ourselves. Only nature can teach us creation, creativity. Our real illiteracy is the inability to be creative.
We must strive for a peace treaty with nature, the only superior creative power on which man depends.
This peace treaty with nature would have to contain at least the following points:
1. We must learn the language of nature in order to reach an understanding with her.
2. We must give back territories to nature which we have misappropriated and devastated. For example, according to the principle: everything which is horizontal under the open sky belongs to nature, including, for example, roofs, roads.
3. Tolerance of spontaneous vegetation.
4. The creation of man and the creation of nature must be re-united. The schism of these creations has had catastrophic consequences for nature and man.
5. Life in harmony with the laws of nature.
6. We are only the guests of nature and must behave accordingly. Man is the most dangerous pest ever to devastate the earth. Man must put himself behind ecological barriers so the earth can regenerate.
7. Human society must again become a waste-free society. For only he who honours his own waste and re-uses it in a waste-free society transforms death into life and has the right to live on this earth. Because he respects the cycle and allows the rebirth of life to occur.
There is no energy crisis.
There is only an extravagant squandering of energy.
Does nature have an energy crisis?
Do the birds, trees, beetles have an energy crisis?
Only man imagines that he is in an energy crisis, because he has gone crazy.
The immense, unjustified increased energy consumption of man should be in accordance with a correspondingly immensely increased, responsible and creative intelligence.
But that is not the case.
Man has remained a dumb gregarious animal which suddenly has huge amounts of energy, poisons and other murderous means at his disposal and which he wildly squanders or uses without qualms to destroy the environment or his own brothers.
And man, this dumb gregarious animal, greedily demands even more energy, even more poisons and even more murderous means.
Moreover, the consumption of these energies and poisons continues to be extolled by the responsible parties and the media with impunity.
In the data processing of our computers all the ecological data should be stored and taken into consideration before any others.
In this way modern means, computers, can also be used in matters of architecture, urban planning, economics, transportation, energy, agriculture to calculate what is inexpensive and expensive, what is purposive and what is detrimental, and in a superordinate context, at that.
Taking all available data into account, including ecological and other data, must be the precondition for all calculations.
What good is a cheap house, for example, that ends up costing us a lot because the planners and architects only added up the price of the building material, the plot of real estate and the workmen’s pay in their calculation?
But the other factors were not included in the calculation, although they can very well be calculated: increased expenses for heating and air-conditioning, elimination of dust and noise, poisoned air just by not including a grass roof in the plans, for example.
Galloping costs caused by vandalism, crime, dissatisfaction, neuroses, work absenteeism, hospital costs, migration to the countryside, abuse of self-esteem and human dignity, the thwarting of the creativity of each individual: all caused by faulty planning and ignoring the ecological, creative component in its multifarious interactions and complex entirety. It is a dead certainty that this bill will be presented, only a bit later; hitherto, the planners have had an easy time of it in denying any correlations, causes and effects – their responsibility, in short.
The blind, cowardly and stupid application of the geometrically straight line has turned our cities into deserts, in the aesthetic, psychological and also ecological sense.
Our cities are the concretisations of the hare-brained ideas of criminal architects, for whom the Hippocratic Oath does not apply, which should state, “I refuse to build buildings which are harmful to nature and man.” Two generations of architects of the Bauhaus mentality have destroyed the world we dwell in. The Bauhaus mentality can be described something like this: without feelings and emotions, dictatorial, heartless, aggressive, flat, sterile, unadorned, cold and unromantic, anonymous and yawning emptiness. An hallucination of functionality.
The unnatural cessation of building activity before the occupant moves in should be regarded as a criminal sterilisation of the growth of the third skin, i.e., the dwelling shell, and punished accordingly.
Only a building which grows organically after the occupants have moved in and steadily changes through the constant alterations of the occupants is the alternative to the concentration camps in which we live, stacked above and next to one another in identical cells, with nothing to say about it and no right to change anything.
The window rights of every individual must go into effect, according to the principle:
Everyone must have the right to lean out of the window and redo the third skin, the outer wall, as far as his arm reaches, so that people on the street can see from far away, “There lives a human being”.
Furthermore, we need a new profession in architecture: the architecture doctor. An architecture doctor is a man who heals sick houses, particularly those that were built by the Bauhaus mentality after the last war.
We have to heal the buildings themselves, then we will need fewer hospitals, for in the buildings that are built for us these days we humans grow ill. However, in the clinics and hospitals people cannot recover because the hospitals themselves are sick.
There is already plenty of medicine for all these masses of sterile and sick architecture standing around. For example:
planting trees and woodlands on roofs
creeping plants on walls
window rights of occupants
organic and diversified skyline
no straight edges
putting in windows out of line
letting windows dance
building on turrets and bays
reinstating window rights
I don’t want to omit mentioning that I am myself working as an architecture doctor on some ten projects. No building is so sick that it cannot be healed, for any amount of money, even if only one mark is available for this.
A good building must have realised and united two things in itself: harmony with nature and harmony with individual human creation. For too long we have had dominion over the earth, with the catastrophic effects we all know about. Now it is high time to do the opposite, to go under the earth. Having the earth above us in no way means that we should live in dark caves or damp cellars, quite the contrary. You can have earth and the forest over your head and light and good air at the same time.
If we must go below nature, that means, symbolically and practically, too, that we must again live in houses where nature is above us, for it is our duty to put nature, which we destroy by building the house, back on the roof. The nature we have on the roof is this piece of earth that we killed by putting the house there.
What do we have all the new materials for, if we don’t use them to bring nature back to the city? We have cement, concrete, plastics, bitumen, synthetic rubber, stainless steel, clay, and mixtures of these materials, as well as the old materials tar, bricks, wood, rubber and so on.
It should be a challenge to every architect not only to build a home for people, but especially for wildly growing spontaneous vegetation in the city centre.
We need beauty barriers so the world can grow bigger. But instead we ruin everything where we are and also ruin everything where nature is still untouched, and to get there we build ugly roads so that everything in between is ruined. This makes the world small and ugly.
But what we urgently need are barriers of beauty. These barriers of beauty consist of non-regulated irregularities. And these non-regulated irregularities consist either of spontaneous vegetation or of the creativity of the individual. Both are mutually complementary creations.
If the individual makes use of his window right and recreates his surroundings, or if every individual in his sphere gives spontaneous vegetation a chance, we won’t have to travel far to arrive in the next kingdom, for paradise is right around the corner at your neighbour’s or where you are yourself. Paradises cannot be sought and found, paradises cannot be impounded and not built by the authorities.
Paradises can only be made by the individual, with his own creativity, in harmony with the free creativity of nature. Then we finally regain our good conscience about nature.
Written for the symposium at the IGA (International Gardening Exposition, July 27, 1983, in Munich.