Patchwork of city's identity

Agata Ruchlewicz-Dzianach, Vigo

Effort - precision – task – result. Preceded by a training - carefully planned - oriented for success. Sportsman can control his task "before" and "after". He has two possibilities - win or lose. So he can prepare for two scenarios that will happen after the jump. Predicting, almost never is surprised. He has a few paths which are part of a fixed plan. With a result of jump, he choose one of them.

The architect can precisely plan the process of creating a building, but his power over the "life" of the building ends at the point zero - jump - the act of completion. After the job accomplished, he loses control over the building. Obviously he has assumptions - wishes concerning the functions and use of space. But even at the moment of putting to use a building, is the architect able to predict the building´s life even in the next few years? He had such intention, he would like, but it is unsure thing.

“On the one hand it is the organisation of spatial consumption. Designing a building actually consists of defining an ‘outside’ and an ‘inside’ in such a way that people can use the space – can consume the space. The architect is as a result forced to think about how people distribute themselves in space.” Ben van Berkel

Created form, which fits more or less in the city.
Created form, which is inhabited.

So building changes its form in two ways. From exterior and from interior. From the outside, change its face by converting his own facade or by changement of the adjacent facades – in this case is also readable in different way. Because red-brick facade would talk one way among the similar to itself, and very differently among the glass and steel facades.

Building comes alive with letting first human being inside. In fact, the function precisely planned in advance, may change faster than we think. Between the same walls, in the same space, there can take place very diverse activities. From residential to public use. Few steps deeper, many stories we can decipher.

One of the interesting examples, which I have read once, is a building situated at the intersection of Podwale and Krupnicza streets located in Krakow, Poland. In 1912 café Esplanada was founded there. In the first years, Legionaries often came there, and according to the diaries, cafe became their informal meeting place. In the same cafe, Jozef Pilsudski spend the first hours of World War. In the 20s Legionnaires were replaced by Futurists which founded there the famous club "Nutmeg" and cafe became a place of heyday of Polish futurism. Later, the owner was forced to separate part of the cafe and rented it to a company saling the typewriters. The next incarnation was a department store... How many places were seething with similar vibrant history? How many of these stories could have been envisaged and planned? None. Even the architect of a fertile imagination is unable to predict the fate of his work.

The pitiful phase of the life of building is its 'old age'. Deserted, lonely, changed relative to the original and very often gutted inside. What is its destiny? It is waiting for demolition or renovation It can also go into the intermediate state and change into some type of spacial installation: in progress and changing with time.

In Vigo where I currently live, is a lot of vacancy for which probably no one has plans at this time and are in the same state at least the last half a year. Strolling, always asking myself how many people see these empty buildings, how many people think about them?

Vacancy, in the first place, as unattended dilapidated building.
Vacancy, in the second place, as a building in the state of leaving its space.

Trace of what was there, we can find only in the prints on the walls of adjacent buildings, which were snuggled into this missed one. Because the walls are covered with intensely yellow-orange paint, it is difficult to see something more, beyond the lines relating about divisions of no longer existing house-ghost. Instead, we can see, almost always reddish, support structures, protecting the other two buildings from collapse.

The most durable and long-lasting material form of such buildings is a wall facade which hides its reverse carefully. The reverse, which would give us a answer what was the life inside. Reverse having dozen of stories. Divisions of ceilings, layers of paint, smashed tiles, teared multicolored wallpaper. Traces of redecoration, drawings of children. Wall - a remnant, which lasts as the final element, gives us an idea how “she” was living every day. As designed in one piece, hides a variety of small individuals - lives on its reverse side, it is a specific piece of patchwork of city's identity. Completely unplanned. Undocumented, probably will be destroyed later.