The idea of bidding for EASA, first came up during INCM Continuity in Vitosha, Bulgaria. What first started as a teasing joke, it ended up being, well... a reality.
The theme came as a reaction to a series of paradoxical discrepancies observed between architectural education, practice and thought, especially in comparison to the real needs of our constantly changing environments, in the face of hyperglobalisation and climate change. These discrepancies are having a direct or indirect impact on our environments.
An idealised representation of architecture with perfectly articulated concepts, cultivated within our current learning environments simplifies the impact that our designs can have. There is no talk about the aftermaths of our design studios, there isn’t a feedback loop. Just a grade. On the other side, the majority of architecture practitioners are not the agents of a social change that architecture theory wanted them to be, but workers in this factory of value-production which is in constant need for growth and development.
In the attempt to normalize these absurd inconsistencies within the discipline, architects tend to commercialize the problem itself, seeing our crisis's as an opportunity for more production. This feeds the art of greenwashing as well as a saturated media-driven culture that focuses more on the image than on the “real” and the process behind. Besides that, the technological development enabled us to create virtual spaces that feel “more real than the real”, leaving more space for snapshots of architectural experiences perfectly calibrated to our needs.
The discussion over what we are taught to do, what we are doing and what we should do is endless and shows that the complexity and contradictions of our current realities demand a new collective consciousness over our actions.
Having this said, the main goal of EASA Reality is raising awareness and understanding of the current order of things, without the desire for quick and hasty solutions and conclusions - a reality check. How can the reality check become a method to provoke new ideas for the evolution of the architecture discipline and the community itself? Questions are more important than answers. Questions evolved from the extreme present that provoke speculation about the future.
Warning: during this process of self-reflection through the prism of realities, EASA experiment might evolve. In this blurred line between fact and fiction, EASA Reality may set itself comfortable on the negative mundane side of EASA, embracing its flaws. It can reject its context creating its fictional city.
how can the reality check become a method to provoke new ideas...
Let’s take an example from our everyday life. In Belgrade’s Republic square, granite was used to pave this new public space. The news and media represented the newly re-constructed square with granite as an important renovation which will enhance the quality of this space. The materials used were claimed to be high-quality lasting “forever”. Less than two weeks later, heavy rains damaged the surface layer of the carriageways, prompting question whether it was granite at all. 5 days after the re-opening, “reconstruction of the reconstruction” began. Repairs showed cubes are not made of granite as stipulated by the invitation to tender and paid as such by the city, but concrete cubes with a thin silicone-glued rugged layer on top.
how do we act in a situation when everything and nothing is at the same time possible?
The silicon layer, trapped between the granite and the concrete represents the blurred line between a represented reality and the real. This allegory, can be interpreted and be applied in many aspects of our profession and of our lives. This is not a provocation, but rather an invite to learn from this experience.
Why it is important to search for inconsistencies of our realities and glitches in the matrix? Should we establish a new kind of transparency among our actions? Or should we continue to inhabit our simulated worlds making speculative scenarios of what the real is? Can a space of unlimited possibilities teach us something about ourselves? How do we act in a situation when everything and nothing is at the same time possible?
EASA Reality aims at creating this mental and physical space of freedom, creative thinking, experimentation and imagination. Challenging the certainty of our worlds, we can re-create our collective knowledge and find new ways to perform reality checks.
You can read more on the theme of Reality in the Workshop Pack that you can find here. Starting from page 49 in the About Reality chapter. You can find it here.