“Sustaning Identity symposium brings together acclaimed international architects whose work resists homogenisation by prioritising place, the senses and memory. Speakers include 2012 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate, Wang Shu; 2012 Global Holcim Award winner, Francis Kéré and renowned architectural theorist Juhani Pallasmaa, who has curated the event with Paul Brislin of Arup Associates. The event is supported by Architectural Review”.
The approach to tradition, introduced by one of the curators Juhani Pallasmaa, was not nostalgia. On the contrary, tradition is a living evolutionary process. Tradition is not static and not nostalgic, instead it is about re-invention. Tradition gives also historical sense to the new. Without it, the new is meaningless, without perspective, unrelated. So tradition is important also to the new.
The big question for architects is what kind of space can maintain identity?
Many inspiring presentations were focusing on creative use of local materials and craftmanship. At emerging markets low tech and hands-on methods by building models and new tools instead of technical drawings were great examples of intuitive design.
Wang Shu from Amateur Architecture Studio raised concerns about loosing tradition in China, arguing that modern life it is not a better life and that villages represent better value than cities. He suggested to learn from the countryside e.g. using less resources and applying this to the city. Another concern is the loss of the community caused by urbanisation. With the aging population crisis China has to tackle this issue soon. How this will be done, will be interesting to follow.