“Absence, the highest form of presence.”
(James Joyce)

Carmen Decembrino - June 2020

Education in subtraction is one of those subjects that are essential to be able to appreciate what deprivation, derived from absence, has depicted for us in the days of the necessary emptiness and silence. The perception of a new dimension of living and feeling that accompanied the lock-down, gave us back the time of waiting that coincided, unconsciously, with a metaphorical and obligatory return to ourselves. As we entered into resonance with fragility, which handed us a new diktat, bound to the listening to of silence and the perception of emptiness, we realized how much it proved to be stronger than the force itself.

This perception of things became a conscious presence of what was actually always right in front of our eyes, thanks to the unprecedented condition we experienced. Other architectures have thus begun to inhabit our imagery, starting from the new emotional geographies that have naturally formed before our eyes. The plots of experience, spatial metaphors for the ensemble of places where memories, relationships and life itself are built, have come to continually overlap in their different meanings across multiple planes of inquiry, until they become tangled. The immaterial one, is sublimated in the journey of human existence, where traveling along new paths becomes change as opportunity, and the purely material one has become prefigurable through the theme of the threshold, as suggested by Walter Benjamin.
The domestic recollection, a refuge to retrieve the plane of perception on the boundary between the inside and the outside, was fearful before us as an ephemeral boundary and not a clear demarcation between presence and absence, reality and unreality, as suggested by Bachelard, a gateway to other worlds, a new opportunity to rethink everyday life through the gateway of the imagination, to re-inhabit the world beginning with reverie, recuperating that sensitive and attentive gaze on things that would allow us to live with authenticity the altered declinations of the new paradigms of living which is delivering us the time suspended of reflection.

By reclaiming our right to disconnection, if it is not alternated with a genuine and nonliquid sociality, as Baumann suggests, our public dimension has invaded the intimate and private space of our homes, favouring the hybridization of new scenarios that travel among infinite possibilities. A reconfigurable and highly adaptive space, in this view, becomes, therefore, the perfect translation of the desire for isolation within the domestic space that doesn't exclusively pass for the possibility of working in the studio, but is declined to a sharp emphasis on the needs of the user over time. It also seems necessary that the forms of the crossing dematerialize the limits between the buildings and the public space, in a continuous dialogue with the design of emptiness and greenery even more in this moment, as they assume fundamental importance for rethinking the concept of distance at an architectural and urban scale, by assuming them as structuring and hybridizing features for the spaces for the relationships between the users and their delicate existential plots.
The necessary silence and emptiness, therefore, prefigured in the dimension of time, as indispensable materials for the design of new possibilities which are attentive to a deep and authentic human well-being, so that the social distancing and its proxemics, push us to be the architects of a new liminal space where everyday life can be ennobled without extreme sensationalism.

The dimension of the threshold, as a hybrid space of collective memory and intimacy between public and private, in which to recreate those scenographies and atmospheres suggested by the poetics of the reverie possible in another space of the uncommon perception of things, in which by skilled photographers of the prefigurable but the not yet existing, to be able to grasp sensitive suggestions for materials that can be built over time under the banner of an empire of Magrittian lights where opposing dialectics and apparently contradictory elements can converge and coexist, creating unimaginable connections beyond the simple rhetoric.

Carmen Decembrino - Architect & Visual Designer