Spirit, are you there? Jean Nouvel’s manifesto

The manifesto for Domus written by the Guest Editor of year 2022.

Jean Nouvel’s manifesto is on newsstands along with the monograph dedicated to him and published as a supplement to Domus 1063, December 2021.

What would knowledge of the world be like if sensibility were disregarde? What would reason be without its poetic counterpoint? What would truth be if revealed from a single viewpoint? Ignorant knowledge. Unreasonable reason. Truncated truth. And in all cases, forgotten imagination.

Defining a character is firstly a matter of awareness: awareness of the importance of asserting that you are somewhere. Invention springs from character, from the importance of saying NO. Defining a character means about demonstrating your awareness of place, therefore reinforcing the character of a place, and therefore a sense of belonging. Urban plans are dehumanisation plans that stand in isolation from the character of places but should be bound to a specific architectural, humanist vision based on a mindful awareness of conceiving made-to-measure solutions.

One question should always be in our minds: spirit, are you there?

Several connections and points of reference can justify and facilitate characterisation and belonging:

1. The depth of recollection...History is a long story... What allusion? What link can invent what comes next?

2. Interference. Interference with the existing working within the existing working on the existing. The fate of the existing as part of the future.

3. The time. The milestone of the time, belonging to the present as an intrinsic or integral part of the future... here, the character of the present is important...

4. Emotion. Character is a surprise that is all the more profound as it touches our soul as well as our mind. 

5. Art. Exception. Cries. Provocation. The unprecedented.

6. Geography: relief the natural landscape the materialisation of responses to the climate: Revelation Mimetism Contrast rain sunshine wind And... exceptionally... the invention of a somewhere when we are nowhere... 

7.  The expression of matter is crucial to unveil sensibility and reveal the echoes of a place and its Lights.

Architects’ role in society is to draw on these characters and senses of belonging.

Opening image: Jean Nouvel. Photo Giovanni dal Brenna

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