Beauty that resonates

When we turn to normality and the priority are luxury items, one can think what is it that this time of confinement taught us? 
What are the values that matter to preserve? 
What is the change that we must adapt to be better, to build a possible future for everyone?
What does freedom mean? 
What does our responsibility to the planet mean?

In this gradual opening, what I miss most is listening to someone inspiring in a concert hall. A great one like Yo Yo Ma, playing one of the best soundtracks ever - Cinema Paradiso.
Isn't Tornatore, with its touch of genius, what we should be missing?
That people like him can return to filming, dancing, singing, playing, sculpting, painting… so that we can see/feel master pieces that depict life and high values?
When I think of beauty, Cinema Paradiso always cross my mind, along with the magical cello of Yo Yo Ma. If it were my last day on Earth, this set would make me perfectly happy, knowing that humanity is capable of creating such beauty that resonates in time and space. I am humbly grateful for that.
No, I don't want sandals, luxury wallets, earrings, or any other item more or less futile, but I miss what feeds the soul and elevates us to the level of Gods - I miss Art.

The Normality – Day 31

O que é voltar a normalidade?
Desflorestar, produzir em massa, olhar para um céu riscado de aviões, o canto abafado dos pássaros no trânsito citadino? Estratificar, quantificar, classificar, manipular...
O que é a normalidade?
Sair de casa a correr, perder horas em deslocações desnecessárias, sucumbir a reuniões intermináveis, competir em vez de colaborar? Repetir, fabricar, automatizar, gerar...
O que é a normalidade?
Comprar coisas para encher vazios, de tempo, de presença, de espírito? Sair, para voltar a fingir que se ouve? Alienar, acumular, exibir, invejar...
O que é normal?
Não questionar o porquê disto, continuar em frente como se nada tivesse acontecido, como se nada devesse ou pudesse ser mudado?
O que é normal?

Seguir em frente sem aprender a lição.

Há mentes fechadas, almas abafadas, verdades escondidas para além das quatro paredes onde existimos - chamamos-lhe normalidade, zona de conforto... Medo de reescrever, reinventar, repensar, evoluir!
What is it to return to normal?
Deforestation, mass production, looking at a sky streaked by airplanes, the muffled song of birds in city traffic? Stratify, quantify, classify, manipulate …

What is normality?
Running out of the house, wasting hours on unnecessary commuting, succumbing to endless meetings, competing instead of collaborating? Repeat, manufacture, automate, generate …

What is normality?
Buying things to fill voids, of time, presence, spirit? To go out, to pretend to be heard again? Alienate, accumulate, exhibit, envy …

What is normal?
Not to question why this is so, to go on as if nothing had happened, as if nothing should or could be changed?

What is normal?

Move on without learning the lesson.

There are closed minds, muffled souls, hidden truths beyond the four walls where we exist - we call it normality, comfort zone … Fear of rewriting, reinventing, rethinking, evolving!

Visual poems – Day 24

“Poets and painters are born phenomenologists.” – Jan Hendrik

We usually talk about the great masters of cinema, but they are always in the masculine. Well, keep your eyes open, because Maya Deren is lined up right there, at the top.
In your experimental work we see a great capacity to manipulate space and time, however what fascinates me most is the movement of the body.
This continuity of movement of the dancer builds the narrative, the alteration of the physical space, but above all, it is very tactile.
Deren's images arouse in the viewer a corporeal feeling. Perspecting the hot sand, the stones in the hands, being hidden behind the foliage, the body of the dancer in tension, etc., everything goes beyond the screen.
In this sense, I wonder where is the tactality of our spaces, the so called atmosphere?
Is this more difficult to create? 
If M. Deren was able through cinema to awaken us to these feelings, why are they so difficult to exist in the real world? 
I believe, that like poets and painters, filmmakers are also sensitive to the essence of things (beings and objects). Perhaps we architects can learn from them how to instill in the formal principles and intentions of architecture the warm essence of life.

Sketching humanism – Day 17

Desenhos de Viagem – A. Siza Vieira
Thinking of a more sensitive and humanistic architecture is easier said than done.
On the path I have taken, I rediscovered the method that the university I attended uses a great deal. Anyone who studies architecture has to know how to draw, this is not optional. In the first two years of the course, this is just as, if not more, important than learning the act of designing.
In the first year of the course, the intervention site was located in the richest part of the city. In the long afternoons that we started to draw those streets and landscapes with the sea in the background, the residents stopped, asked questions, commented and criticized. Above all they told stories, shared information and memories, some left us with complaints. Most of the population in that area were retired people, entrepreneurs, full-time mothers who lived in single-family homes. As young architecture students we were approached mainly by the elderly, when they came from their walks.
Thinking space © Atelier L’Agnès
From the beginning, we were encouraged to sell one or two drawings where their houses were represented. When I realize, I already had more orders than time. Some houses, due to their open perspective, were easy to draw, others on the narrower streets were hard to see. However, the most interesting phenomenon is that they wanted the houses represented in their entirety, when in fact they had an exterior wall of at least 2 meters. The gymnastics to put on paper a fictitious reality was not easy. What made me realize from a very early stage that nobody wants to live cloistered, that this vision takes away the beauty and feeling of home.                   
Parents want to say goodbye to their child, who is going to school, from the front door and they want to be able to follow him visually for a while along the way. Maybe that's why I partially buried the first building I designed, I didn't want to impose visual barriers on anyone.
Representing realities © Atelier L’Agnès
In the second year, they gave us a transition ground, between single-family houses and condominiums.
Sitting in the square, no one stopped to look, our presence was oblivious to passersby or at least uncomfortable.
Of the many afternoons and mornings that I spent in the place, I was approached only once (in a rude way), by a homeless annoyed that I did not represent him in the sketch.
I included him in my drawing and made another one to offer him with lunch. Meal that we both ate on the street, because his presence was not tolerated in the establishment. The space that refused him, he had it as a background numerous times. It is one of the icons of contemporary architecture, designed to embellish the city landscape and ignore life.
That year I designed a building that would rise from the ground to make way for a square, green spaces, a communion between public and private space.
Looking back, I might have done this because of the homeless person who dared to see me and shake me with reality.
Those two years and all that followed were not a mere drawing lesson, they were above all a tool for observing life.
The act of drawing presumes concentration, dedication and street drawing even leads to some discomfort. In the end we can have the representation of the place, the important elements to elaborate the architecture, but the most valuable lesson is the sensitivity to the act of living.
In the first case, I learned to listen, to look at a space that was unknown to me through the feelings and needs of others. In the second case, I learned to notice.

“If you can look, see, if you can see, notice.” – J.Saramago

Cities in their suspicious nature are silent, so it is even more important to know how to see what surrounds us. Represent it! Everything, without suppressing anything. I will be even more daring: draw what bothers you, let it simmer inside you, allow it to jump off the paper. You just found the problems, now find a solution.

Glorify life, design spaces to respond to problems and always return to drawing. It is a valuable and humanizing tool.

A house, a home – Day 14

Frontier – Martha Graham / I.Noguchi

“A arquitectura glorifica e eterniza alguma coisa. Quando não há nada a glorificar, não há arquitectura.” – Ludwig Wittgenstein

As casas deixaram de cumprir o seu propósito. O acto de habitar não é o mesmo que dormir com um tecto em cima. Costuma-se designar os sem abrigo, como sem-tecto. Contudo, existe uma grande diferença entre a casa que abriga e aquela que proporciona domicílio.

A primeira dá conforto não só ao corpo, mas também ao espírito. Dentro destas alojam-se pensamentos, guardam-se lembranças, crescem os sonhos, desenvolvem-se relações e cuida-se do corpo e da psique. Já a segunda resume-se a oferecer uma cobertura, mais um menos estética, para as intempéries (naturais e sociais). Como conseguinte, nesta última não é possível imaginar, nem desenvolvermo-nos como indivíduos singulares. Para o ser que frue estes espaços o único desejo, é a fuga. Fuga para o espaço exterior onde procura incessantemente um refúgio consistente que o permita ancorar-se com o tempo e a matéria. 

 O lar que antigamente abrigava a intimidade do seio familiar, as comemorações e padeceres, o desenvolvimento social do indivíduo, acontece hoje maioritariamente na rua. A nossa relação com o mundo que advinha do acto de habitar está hoje distorcido, num eixo cartesiano - espaço/forma. É-nos negado o eixo onírico e temporal  que envolve a nossa existência.

Temos uma imagem idílica da família à volta de uma mesa, mas quantas delas ainda se reúnem? A pergunta será ainda, quantas casas permitem ainda essa vivência? Em séculos passados o acto de receber significava fazer parte da sociedade. Dentro de salões e à mesa, as mentes mais brilhantes da nossa história, privaram, desenvolveram-se e deixaram manifestações da sua existência. Basta para isso pensarmos nos escritos de Proust, Tolstoi, Dostoievski entre outros. As descrições detalhadas dos cômodos não só nos oferecem o sentimento de habitar, mas interligam a essência do lugar à alma do habitante. O espaço edificado é uma prolongação da existência metafísica e corpórea daquele que o habita.

Em seus mil alvéolos, o espaço retém o tempo comprimido. É essa a função do espaço […]. Aqui o espaço é tudo, pois o tempo já não anima a memória. A memória – coisa estranha! – não registra a duração concreta, a duração no sentido bergsoniano. Não podemos reviver as durações abolidas. Só podemos pensá-las, pensá-las na linha de um tempo abstrato privado de qualquer espessura. É pelo espaço, é no espaço que encontramos os belos fósseis de duração concretizados por longas permanências” – G. Bachelard

Onde se alicerça nos tempos que correm a nossa memória?

Num restaurante , sala de aula, ginásio, parque, online? Enquanto as nossas habitações ficam obsoletas das suas antigas incumbências e diminuem de escala, de diversidade e criatividade; dá-se ao lugares comuns, a espaços sem rosto a árdua tarefa de nós acalentar, proteger e definir. Esperamos deveras que o berço de cada ser humano único e irrepetível seja exposto em praça pública? Não será que o fazemos já com as redes sociais?

Como é que isso é possível?

O acto de habitar é muito mais que o espaço onde temos os nossos bens, é mais que um conjunto de móveis, eletrodomésticos e sucessão de espaços. A casa refugia, cria e modela quem somos. Qual de nós não tem lembranças da sua casa de infância? 

Logicamente, é graças à casa que um grande número das nossas lembranças estão guardadas, e quando a casa se complica um pouco, quando tem um porão e um sótão, cantos e corredores, as nossas lembranças têm refúgios cada vez mais bem caracterizados. A eles regressamos durante toda a vida, em nossos devaneios.

– G. Bachelard

O lar da infância continha o nosso mundo interior. Foi nele que desenvolvemos ideias, conceitos mentais e sentimentais. Parte do somos é uma projecção das memórias que temos e experimentamos dentro desse refúgio. A casa é a topografia do nosso íntimo, habitar é uma definição de identidade é a forma como nos relacionamos com o mundo.

Ainda oferecemos isso as crianças?

A criança de hoje tem a mesma ligação com o seu lugar de vivência, com o interior, com a protecção do seu íntimo? No teatro da memória onde ficará a casa da sua infância? 

A arquitectura deixou de construir e oferecer o sentimento de lar para construir imagens. Imagens que vendem objectos, organização espacial e um determinado estrato social. Prova disso é o abandono do uso do desenho livre (esquisso), da maquete (que permite ao seu futuro habitante sonhar a vivência) pela predileção de  imagens computadorizadas (3D). Deixamos de desenhar o lar (se é que alguma vez o conseguimos concretizar). Ele requer tempo e contacto humano, dois bens demasiado caros no mundo veloz em que vivemos.

” Quando comparamos os projetos do início do modernismo com os projetos de vanguarda contemporâneos, podemos perceber imediatamente uma perda de empatia pelo habitante. Em vez de ser motivada por uma visão social do arquiteto ou por uma concepção de vida pautada pela empatia, a arquitectura tornou-se autorreferencial e autista.” – J.Pallasmaa

De que vale desenhar tantos espaços amorfos? Olhando-os de fora oferecem a harmonia estética do todo, mas por dentro parecem não possuir alma. São réplicas indiferentes aos males, as alegrias e sonhos de quem os habita. Como poderiam ser diferentes? As habitações actuais são bens consumíveis, possuem data de validade. Não foram feitas para o futuro, não são pensadas para albergar as gerações vindouras. A casa já não é o bem mais querido, não contém a vida e alma dos seus habitantes.

Se as paredes pudessem falar, o que contariam? Fragmentos de existências, estórias incompreensíveis e transitórias.  A casa que outrora foi abrigo desenha-se agora como invólucro do vazio.

About dance – Day 8

Dance is an explosion of movements and creations, the dancer writes in time and space, ideas and emotions as they arise and reappear.

It was winter and dancing was not on the horizon. The overly sedentary office work made me realize that yoga and normal walks were not enough, yet the crazy passion that I had as a child didn't cross my mind. Or deep down, maybe!
Dance Program
Braswell Arts Center
Braswell Arts Center was a happy coincidence, some would say, I call it destiny. It was next to the office and I passed by the school several times a week. The buzz grew inside me and didn't stop until I entered their door. 
I had a Japanese teacher, Ayako Nakano, who made me even more motivated. She is much more than a teacher, than a ballerina, she is a force of nature. Do you have already been in a space that can light, expand and fill itself with potential when someone enters? There are people who change space, who shape it, who welcome it inside themselves, make it their own, Ayako is one of those people.
Imagine entering a ballet class with live music and having the pleasure of listening to your favorites. Maria always played one of my favorite composers, Hisaishi.
The first, the second and many other lessons that came were difficult.
But how long has it been since you jumped around in the street or entered the home door dancing? Doing ballet at BAC brought this, an inner joy, not the urge for perfection, but the happiness of beauty that is acquired through practice.
In the luggage that I brought with me from Basel, there are not many memories that I cherish, but the time I spent at BAC is among my most precious memories ever.
There were other schools after, there will still be others on the way.
If any can match? I doubt it, the bar is high, very high!
It wasn't just the classes, it was the people, the workshops, the extra activities.The love for Art!
All inhabitants of the Earth
Theater Basel
Dance on a stage, work on a play with dozens of people, learn more, about us, about others and face fears. Grow up!
The stage is a living organism. It tells us more about ourselves, then we would like. In it we relearn the valid lessons for living in society and on the planet: respect for the other, collaboration, challenging limits, practice silence, the necessary scream, finding courage, defending points of view and finally facing life and the world head on.
One may be asleep for decades and yet an experience like this can and will shake you up.

“All humans on earth had one language”

The only language I know that we all have in common is the body language. The smile that crosses barriers, the body that bends in suffering, that expands in happiness, that crosses space, that dominates and lets itself be dominated. Dancing is not just physical exercise, coordination, grace, etc. The great challenge of dance is the encounter, the vulnerability of exposing what goes on in our souls. Dancing is freedom!
Whoever does things with love will not stop, so yesterday I returned to BAC from home. I revived the joy that the dance school has always offered me, it's still like home. Even in this difficult time of confinement, dance brought a feeling of fulfillness, so if you are in Basel, BAC is the place that you should look for, for others:

“Dance, dance, otherwise we are lost” – Pina Bausch

And don't forget to support the Festival that will take place during ArtBasel week.

The shape of living – Day 4

At home
Le Corbusier
We want to hear from you. 􏰖􏰊􏰏􏰊􏰀 
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At this moment when we are all forced to be at home, we would like to hear about your experience of living.

What do you miss, what unnerves you, what makes you happy, does the space in which you find yourself give you the comfort you seek? Is it in line with your needs and character? Can you define it as yours, as a shelter, or are you looking forward to escape?
Is the balcony useful, do you have one? Does the noise from the neighbors bother you? Are the number of bathrooms sufficient? What is intuitive and easy to use? What is not? Is the oven height good? What about the position of the trash can, the washbasin? Is there enough light? Are the materials nice or suddenly something irritates you?

Send us your thoughts (, in photographs, drawings, words, etc. Any format is welcome. Together we will think about the way of living, because even if everything out there is attractive, there is nothing like home.

Thank you!