“I once overheard the following conversation on a bus:
First woman: ‘I can tell from your accent that you’re from Home.’
Second: ‘Yes, I left Home 30 years ago.’
Third: ‘I’ve never been Home but one day I hope to go.’”
Invention and Tradition in the Making of American Place, 1986
Denise Scott Brown
Is “Home” a place of birth, an ancestral identity, a surrogate city for the nomad, or something altogether unattainable? In a field where globalization increasingly impacts our practice, architectural precedent is no longer limited to either the histories of the site or the designer, or, thanks to the vast world of Google, the library. Paprika XVIII coincides with the lecture given by the Louis I Kahn Visiting professor Kersten Geers. Geers prompted the students in his advanced studio to first study a set of “Ancestors”—Robert Venturi, Aldo Rossi, Vincenzo Scamozzi, and Kevin Roche. Through these ancestors, a reinterpretation of the American village will hopefully emerge. While our cultural identities are inevitably linked in some way to our place of birth and upbringing, a reappropriation of other origins, be they colonial, adopted, or invented, opens up a space for us to design with a newly defined lineage of freely associated Architectural Ancestors as precedent, from which we can borrow, reinvent, and blatantly steal. But how do our biological and geographic ancestors affect and impact our practice?
‘Home’ is frequently—perhaps bureaucratically, though also broadly self-referentially—derived through nationality. Attendant linguistic, and geographic boundaries in this sense, define homes as static in space not time. But ‘Official’ home—as nationality—is ever increasingly a vestige of historic idealizations of national self-rule, confronting total global homogeneity, ever increasing political unions, conglomerates and alliances. On the other hand, we face a world of increasing mass-migrations.
Some of us seek to give back to these manifold issues of home through a focus on the vernacular, or through efforts of social betterment, while others reject notions of subject and place to work towards an intentional estrangement. Do we revive our Homes through our practices or do we revolt?