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ARQ (Santiago)

versión On-line ISSN 0717-6996

ARQ (Santiago)  no.78 Santiago ago. 2011 

ARQ, n. 78 Foreigners, Santiago, August 2011, p. 12.





Patricio Mardones H. *

* Ediciones ARQ Editor in Chief, Facultad de Arquitectura, Diseño y Estudios Urbanos, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile.

It was 1932 when Henry-Russell Hitchcock and Philip Johnson– from a museum, by means of an exhibit and its catalogue– identified a number of features present in the new architecture of their time. As Tournikiotis stated, the establishment of such a clear standard allowed for easy reproduction and diffusion of these fresh architectural ideas. Their initiative contained a veiled "how-to-be-modern" manual, an unusually pragmatic product arising from the realm of critics in the 20's promoting another way to design and build; the authors and curators called it "International Style".

Leaving its relevance aside, this term was ahead of its time in many ways. It emphasized the appealing prestige that the absence of frontiers, circulation and ubiquity acquired some years later. More recently another word keenly embodied this same aspiration, to the point of weariness: "global". This time, the image of a complex network takes over the idea of nationality; after a century of empires and another of countries, the century of cities has arrived.

Of course both the absence of frontiers and the global world seem like an illusion coming from naïve enthusiasm rather than elaborated thought. Does it make sense to talk about a single, global culture when differences between people's customs and ideas are potentially appealing and conflictive at the same time, being the reason for change and reflection? It is a scenario of mixed emotions: while airport and borderline controls toughen throughout the world, and with it immigration regulations, there is an exceptional increase in overseas traveling, international scholarships and visiting faculty programs, just to name a few examples.

Has the "international" domain become widespread, in the sense pointed out by Hitchcock and Johnson? Facing that early definition that pictured a homogeneous, highly standardized world, the present ARQ issue aims to examine the broken points and cracks of the global realm, embracing its contradictions and gaps. ARQ 78 - Foreigners tries to highlight those areas where knowledge and cultural transfers are possible and differences are significant and productive; it focuses on ideas, shared technologies and customs. This time, ARQ presents three contributions on architecture and cultural exchange in the Americas and six works that show different levels of friction between different architectural cultures: urban behavior and its space transferred from one city to another; the encounter with vernacular building techniques; research on new strategies in material form meeting the tradition of concrete silos in the countryside, amongst others, recalling a sometimes uncomfortable but fruitful experience: that foreign feeling..

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