Chronicle | Foresight as a tool for analyzing a "modernity-true"

What quality (s) for the Branly Museum of Jean Nouvel with regard to essential values constituting the new culture in the process of establishing itself in our civilization? In the field of architecture, the world of ideas would remain blind to the transformations of the contemporary world? Prospective chronicle of Jean Magerand. This column was first published on CyberArchi on March 07, 2007 last fall, Francoise Choay, who was exceded by the Branly Museum, released his most "stripping" pen in the magazine Urbanism (October issue 2006). His (soft) attacks on the building of Jean Nouvel have indirectly and inadvertently provoked the online rise of the journalists of Archiscopie who flew to the rescue of the architect-Star. The tone is mounted, engaging the tenors of the pro-branly architectural Press in a muscular exchange with anti-branly architects and journalists. We will leave aside, here, the debate on the merits of the existence of the museum, and on the choice of the works on display, of which Françoise Choay seems to question the very principle. The incident between architectural specialists is however enlightening. There is of course no question of taking sides here for either side or even sending them back to back; Every debate is good in itself and always advances ideas. On the other hand, what is interesting is the argument on which the adulation or rejection of Branly's architecture in different media is concerned. To better analyze the typology of the debates, we start from the postulate, generally accepted, that one of the values that bases the great architecture is its ability to testify of its time. A work, a thought, a doctrine, a theory, a conceptual approach can indeed participate in an era or, on the contrary, turn its back on it. These human productions are testimony to the degree of knowledge and know-how carried out by the companies. They testify to the depth of consciousness of the real that carries in it all civilization at a given time. However, in the journalistic altercation around the Branly museum, neither one nor the other argues with regard to any criterion of contemporaneity. Only values of "implicit modernity" are identifiable. It is in fact, in fine, in the context of such a modernity-reference, continually re-interpreted, but in no way questioned, that the altercation between critics of architecture takes place. Everything happens as if there was a kind of "modernity-sacred" consensually accepted but never explicitly evoked. In this contradictory debate, some consider that such modernity must for example be subject to Parisian fabrics, others believing that the quality of the spatial and special effects of all orders, isolated as independent phenomena, are sufficient in themselves for the work of modernity. Of course, it is on the very nature of this modernity-reference, unspoken object of the dispute, continually suggested and implicitly accepted by the two opposing parties, which should be questioned. The debate of experts takes place (or rather wraps) in a definite universe, implicitly bounded by the different values of this modernity-reference, inherited, obviously, in more or less direct line, of the modern movement, that is to say, a Modernity dated. However, in the written declarations, at no time, and this in an astonishing way, arises a questioning about the calibration of this modernity. Moreover, it seems probable, if one reads between the lines of Françoise Choay, that the designers of the museum branly themselves, in their explanatory texts, did not distance themselves, either, from this "modernity-architectural-referent and implicit" to Which refer, "in a natural way", to critics. Thus, everything seems to be happening as if, in the field of architecture, the world of ideas remained blind to the transformations of the contemporary world. This is not surprising because this situation of blindness is recurrent in history. In all the great epochs of strong mutation, a modernity-true, a modernity refreshed, takes body in architecture, as in all fields. But it settles late, most often in collective unconsciousness, within a set of new visions, located at the crossroads of hitherto separated domains. The Renaissance, the Cartesianism, the industrial modernity and, in a general way all the major civilizational mutations, have formed within them new looks and have tipped all the knowledge into a unitary device and Fruitful in innovation. As far as the current mutation is concerned, the same phenomenon of blindness seems to recur. This blindness results in the fact that at no time in the debates of branly, any "recurrent modernity" is advanced, i.e. a "new referent" based on "cross-domain" values, clearly identified, a vector of a mutation Strong and explicitly defined; A referent capable of providing, moreover, a contemporary and non-partisan reference to architectural thinking. The formulation of this new-referent-modern is therefore paramount today. And again, history teaches us that a "true referent", a true modernity, is not an ever-perfect state of fact, like reactionary thoughts, always latent, might let it be believed. This "new modernity" is a dynamic, a direction, a perpetual becoming, it is obsessed by what will happen. She's rich in utopia. It is always authentic because it is established by an implicit pact, between new knowledge and because it is freely chosen. The purpose of this Pact is the future transformation of the present state. It is the highlighting of this inter-knowledge pact that will allow to establish the portrait-robot of the new modernity and then to specify the characteristics and finally the identity. It is this thought, implicitly conducive to the future, that fixes and/or identifies the modalities and objectives to be attained; Each time having its fundamental problems to solve. For these reasons, the very notion of "true contemporary", of "modern-true", cannot be abstract from the notion of evolution and even less foresight. Today, this "pact-modern knowledge in strong mutation" exists. The computer revolution, the information revolution, the revolution in life sciences are changing our lives and formatting our societies. The revolution of the sciences of complexity, the theory of Chaos and many other new approaches to reality, cause fear for the future but also give rise to the hope of the creation of more elaborate, more user-friendly, more humane societal devices. The technical revolution is on the way, the Cultural revolution is engaging, the great aspirations of our time are increasingly evident. Pacts are everywhere between the supporters of this new emerging modernity. A new civilizational mutation, a "true modernity" is in the process of being constitution-if it is not already, without our knowledge, firmly installed in each of us. Thus, they cannot be part of a genuinely contemporary debate that the thoughts and works that fall within this problematic of change identified, mastered and which also subscribe to New directions, collectively defined in Looking at the goals to be achieved. It is this new direction that will allow to refine an enlightened critique of thoughts and works. It will have to be well identified, well framed, well aware. It is such a critique, carefully formatted by the context of mutation, which makes it possible to assess whether a work carries pastist and adulterated values, or whether it is installed in a current debate, sealed in the heart of the aspirations of Its time, oriented towards new objectives, articulated in the principles of a modernity in the future, in other words if it is "authentically contemporary". From this it must be inferred that the Branly museum cannot be seriously evaluated according to the canons of the modernity of the Renaissance, nor according to those of modernity of contemporary movement, even re-updated, no more than according to the criteria of a blurred modernity and Consensual at a time. It is therefore necessary to confront the work-branly with this "new referent". It is this confrontation that would make it possible to reliably assert that this architecture meets the criteria of a new modernity. Logically, this operation would be to ascertain in an unmistakable way whether the architectural work has been cut off from the old demons of an ageing architectural modernity, if it deserves the status D'"architecture exemplary authentically Modern ", if it constitutes an enlightened testimony on the great contemporary fundamental debates, if it actively and dynamically participates in a new modernity-true. There is no question here of going to delve into the thought and production of Jean Nouvel to know whether his building includes these fundamental values or whether on the contrary it lies in the superficiality of the "Works of puffery" as one meets both in History and that the retreat of time demystifies by plunging them into oblivion. I will leave this to the experts of the architectural criticism. At the very most, it was a matter of observing the critical tools used to assess, among other things, the quality, the modernity and thus the prospective value of the museum. If these critical tools had been used consciously, clearly and shared, they would thus have been able to gauge the quality of the museum-building in view of the essential values constituting the new culture in the process of establishing itself in Our civilization. At the same time they would have positioned the speeches and architectural criticisms of the spearhead in these new speeches. In conclusion, let's say, at the risk of provoking a real debate, that in the absence of recognition and formulation of this modernity-true, any criticism of the museum-and of any other work-is subject to caution as to the appreciation of its true value Civilizational. Let's say that this modernity-true can only be a modernity-foresight and what is therefore inseparable from prospective thinking. Let us say that this modernity-tool, is not only useful for the evaluation of works, but that it can also potentially allow to better understand and therefore to better take charge, in an enlightened way, our future. This is also the true mission of Architecture. Jean Magerand architect, planner and landscaper, PhD in information Sciences) teachers at the School of Architecture of Paris-la-Villette.