The architect's profession is an adventurous one, a job on the frontier.
The architect walks a knife-edge between art and science, between originality and memory, between the daring of modernity and the caution of tradition.
Architects have no choice but to live dangerously.
They work with all sorts of raw materials, and I don't just mean concrete, wood, metal.
I'm talking about history and geography, mathematics and the natural sciences, anthropology and ecology, aesthetics and technology, climate and society --- all things that architects have to deal with every day.
The architect has the finest job in the world because, on a small planet where everything has already been discovered, designing is still on of the greatest adventures possible.
As far as exploring the physical world, our ancestors have beaten us to it.
People like Columbus, Magellan, Cook, and Amundsen have already discovered everything.
We are left with the adventure of the mind, which can bring as much anxiety, bewilderment, and fear as an expedition to a land of ice and snow.
Designing is a journey, in a way. You set off to find out, to learn.
You accept the unexpected.
If you get scared and immediately seek refuge in the warm and welcoming lair of the already seen, the already done, it is no journey.
But if you have a taste for advance, you don't hide, you go on.
Each project is a new start, and you are in unexplored territory.
You are a Robinson Crusoe of modern times.
Architecture is an ancient profession --- as old as hunting, fishing, tilling the field, exploring.
These are the original activities of human beings, from which all others are descended.
Immediately after the search for food comes the search for shelter.
At a certain point the nature, and became an architect.
Those who build houses provide shelter: for themselves, for their families, for their people.
In the tribe, the architect performs a role of service to the community.
But the houses is not just protection: this basic function has always gone hand in hand with an aesthetic, expressive, symbolic yearning.
The house, from the very beginning, has been the setting for a quest for beauty, dignity, and status.
The houses is used to give expression to desire to belong, or to a desire to be different.
The act of building is not and cannot be just a question of technique, for it is charged with symbolic meaning.
This ambiguity is only the first of many that mark the profession of architecture.
Any attempt to resolve the ambiguity is not the beginning of a solution --- it is the first sign that you are giving up.
[RENZO PIANO "Giornale di bordo" ]
Photo by Nacása & Partners
Lecture : RENZO PIANO + BUILDING WORKSHOP "Out of the Blue"