I recently came across a wonderful little design project in one of my favorite design blogs, Dezeen (if you haven’t heard of it, I highly recommend it). It’s an 18th century church that’s been converted to an auditorium by Catalan architect David Closes. The first thing that caught my eye was the obvious contrast between a part of the project that looked medieval and another that looked futuristic. This juxtaposition was dramatic to say the least.
I have always been attracted by the balance and contrast between something old and something new. In most (if not all) the projects I’ve admired, this characteristic has always played an important role. So I began to wonder why. As I began to think through it, I realized that these projects were not just a good analogy for our profession, but they represent each of us.
The old represents the past: our history, our resiliency, our knowledge base, our traditions, our standards. It’s the “go-to-guy” in your office for all of your construction, code, and client questions. The new, on the other hand, stands for the future: adaptability, new technologies, flexibility. This is the “wiz-kid” who can model complex-curved facades or make your sketches come alive in artistic renderings.
One looks back and the other forward. Both have their strengths and weaknesses. Both depend on each other to achieve their goals.
Now take a look at the examples of the same concept architecture.
- The auditorium in the Church of Saint Francis' Convent by David Closes
- A shop in a church by Merkx + Girod Architecten
- Moritzburg Museum Extension by Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos
- Messner Mountain Museum by EM2
- Rehabilitation of the City Walls of Logrono by Pasquera Ulargui Arquitectos
- Alhondiga Cultural and Leisure Center by Philippe Starck
In each case the old acts as the foundation for the new. Anchoring it to the ground, to the place, to history. All the while, the new inserts itself inside the old. Bringing a fresh new energy, new possibilities, new perspectives to an otherwise static place… in essence, looking toward the future. You could say that they now depend on each other. Without one, the other would fall. Precisely because of this contrast, each part seems more beautiful.
And so it is true with us. We must adapt. We must find new ways to leverage the old and the new, to seek out and nurture those rare synergies between our “go-to-guys” and our “wiz-kids.” Through that collaboration, we’ll create something more meaningful than we ever could alone.
Sketch overlay courtesy of Zack Moros