Defining the local in the Mediterranean and the European South
Nowadays, we are facing the challenge of using the symbiosis of the global with the local as a driving force for contemporary architectural innovation. Modernism glorified the global as a vehicle of values such as innovation, rationality, objectivity, progress, originality, development, and aspiration for the ‘same for all’. After the seventies the local became the ultimate medium for values like tradition, subjectivity, culture, identity, difference, particularity, evolution, continuity and respect for ‘the right to be different’. In both cases these two poles, the local and the global, were a powerful source of inspiration, creativity and innovation.

In the recent past, we can perceive a shift from an either-or logic to a both-and one. At present, it is accepted that both local and global can creatively contribute to the quest for novelty. We increasingly understand that there is always something from the past embedded in the new, and that something from the local is always rooted in the global. This symbiotic and sympathetic relationship is an important demand of contemporary contemplation giving meaning, that is to say value, to every contemporary innovative creation.

In order to investigate this symbiosis of the global with the local and to teach it creatively in our Schools of Architecture, we need to define what the local is. We are kindly asking you to help us in this investigation by answering the following questions.

This is an inquiry introduced by ARCH-MED-ES Project (www.archi-med-es.net)
In case of need for further clarifications please do not hesitate to contact us at dimkon@arch.auth.gr

1. Information about the person answering this questionnaire
Please give us some info about your Institution and your location
Academic position
Your answer
Institution
Your answer
City and Region
Your answer
Country
Your answer
2. Characteristics of the Mediterranean and the European South
2.1. Which are the more important characteristics of the local in the Mediterranean and the European South that affect architectural thinking and creating?
What is local in Mediterranean and European South that affects architectural creations? How can we describe these particularities of the local that have an impact on architectural design? How important are these characteristics in architectural thinking and creating? We have created a list of characteristics which we consider that can affect creatively architectural design. A short description of the importance of each one of these characteristics in architectural education is presented below in section 3 of this questionnaire. Please give us your opinion about the gravity of the characteristics listed on the table below. In the next question you will have the possibility to add those you consider missing.
Very Important
Not very important
Totally unimportant
The quality of light
The value of shadow
The impact of the sea
The climate
The transformable micro-climate
The history
The color palette
The cultural particularity
The openness and extrovertedness of people
The open-air activities
The organisation of Public space
The close relationship between indoor and outdoor space
The transitional spaces
The Landscape
The Building Materials
The need of both cooling and heating
Water resources, scarcity and desalination
The earthquake
The financial problems and the crisis
2.2. Other Characteristics missing from the above table
Please add other characteristics which are very important for architectural thinking and creating and are missing from the above table.
Your answer
2.3. Do you think that the characteristics presented in the above table are adequately taught in your School
Please specify to which extend the local characteristics are adequately incorporated in architectural curricula so that they will have a serious impact on architectural design.
Taught adequately inspiring design
Taught but with no direct impact on architectural design
Not at all taught
The quality of light
The value of shadow
The impact of the sea
The climate
The transformable micro-climate
The history
The color palette
The cultural particularity
The openness and extrovertedness of people
The open-air activities
The organisation of Public space
The close relationship between internal external space
The transitional spaces
The Landscape
The variations of the landscape
The Building Materials
The need of both cooling and heating
Water resources, scarcity and desalination
The earthquake
The financial problems and the crisis
2.4. Do you think that the missing characteristics you added above are adequately taught in your School?
Please use the same format with the above table
Your answer
3. Which way the above characteristics can be incorporated in your School Curriculum
If you consider that some of the above characteristics are important but are not presented enough in the curriculum of your School, which of the thematic areas presented below should be enhanced so that their teaching could assure a better impact of these characteristics in architectural design and experimentations?
3.1 The quality of light
The mediterranean light is a legend. It opens up the eyes to a particular look to the world; with accentuated shadows, bright colors, distant horizons, open views. The light affects the mind and the feelings and has a direct impact on the way we perceive, imagine, think, conceive and create. Our graduates must be sensitive to this specific characteristic in order to be able to express this sensitivity through their architectural creations. Which of the thematic areas of our curricula presented below can be enriched to provide and develop knowledge, skills and sensitivity as learning outcomes related to this special light of our geographic area? Please click the appropriate boxes.
3.2. The value of shadow
Mediterranean shadow can be considered as a play with light. Generated by the protection from the direct exposure to the sun, shadow gives volume, three dimensions, plasticity, variation but also protection, micro climate, space to be, to meet to reflect. Our graduates must be sensitive to the value of shadow in order to be able to express and capitalise this sensitivity in their architectural creations. Through which of the thematic areas of our curricula presented below can we provide and develop knowledge, skills and sensitivity as learning outcomes related to shadow as a special characteristic of our geographic area? Please click the appropriate boxes.
3.3. The impact of the sea
Mediterranean sea is not just water. It is the deep-blue world of Poseidon and Neptune, that affected profoundly the populations for centuries. It is life, it is crossings, it is cross-cultural exchange, it is nature. When the sea touches the land a value emerges. By the sea, close to the sea, sea-view are values always affecting architectural creations. Are our graduates sensitive enough to the particular role the sea plays in our cultural, social ecologic and financial life? Through which of the thematic areas of our curricula presented below can we provide and develop knowledge, skills and sensitivity as learning outcomes related to this particular sea as a specific characteristic of our geographic area? Please click the appropriate boxes.
3.4. The climate
Mediterranean climate gave its name to all similar weather conditions that we can find between 31 and 40 degrees latitude north and south of the Equator. The climate of our area has a hot summer, a mild winter, a fragrant spring and a colourful autumn. It encourages people to stay out, to be together to feel nature, to feel the changes. Are our graduates sensitive enough to the particular relationship between architecture and this special climate? Through which of the thematic areas of our curricula presented below can we provide and develop knowledge, skills and sensitivity as learning outcomes related to this particular climate and the values and principles emerging from the specific relationship with architecture? Please click the appropriate boxes.
3.5. The variability of micro-climate
One important characteristic of the Mediterranean climate is its variability; in temperatures, seasons, rainfall, winds and humidity. This variability encourages notions like transformability, adaptation, flexibility through which a special relationship with nature and architecture is generated. Together with the topography of our area we can find an impressive variability of microclimates when we cross the countryside or when we move from a built environment to another. Are our students capable to understand architecture as a creation affected and affecting the microclimate of the locus? Through which of the thematic areas of our curricula presented below can we provide and develop knowledge, skills and sensitivity as learning outcomes related to this understanding of the microclimate as a source for inspiration and innovation? Please click the appropriate boxes.
3.6. The history
The history of the Mediterranean region is crucial to understand the origins and development of many modern societies. It has always been a pilgrimage place for its history, civilisation and cultural expressions including architecture. Eminent architects in the past have been inspired by the architecture of mediterranean area to design innovative architectural creations. The history of architecture is always an important part of architectural education. How can the history of our region become a source of inspiration for the new, the innovative, the other going beyond its traditional role to feed the nostalgia for the past glory of the traditional and the vernacular? Which of the thematic areas of our curricula presented below must be enriched with conceptions of the role and the use of the history so that our graduates will acquire knowledge, skills and sensitivity as learning outcomes helping them to be inspired by the local using the know-how from the global? Please click the appropriate boxes.
3.7. The color palette
Since the antiquity, the mediterranean area was extremely colorful. Affected by light, the mediterranean polychromy was not only applied in the pursuit of lifelikeness but also and primarily as a vehicle for philosophical and aesthetic investigations on the human experience. Are our students aware and experienced in the power and the value of the color in architectural creations and expressions? Through which of the thematic areas of our curricula presented below can we provide and develop knowledge, skills and sensitivity as learning outcomes to experiment on the new through the mediterranean color palette? Please click the appropriate boxes.
3.8. The cultural particularity
The ‘other’ is a mirror through which we understand ourselves. To get self-understanding and knowledge is a very important factor of the development of the local. The Mediterranean area, through history, had established and extended a dialogue between cultures and created one of the most distinguished civilizations, which have influenced positively a wide development of the human cultures. Are our students well-educated on the relationship between local culture and its manifestations in space so that they could experiment on new and innovative forms of this manifestations? Through which of the thematic areas of our curricula presented below can we provide and develop knowledge, skills and sensitivity as learning outcomes to support experimentations on innovative ways to express creatively culture through architectural forms? Please click the appropriate boxes.
3.9. The open behaviour and extroversion of the people
A typical trait of the mediterranean behaviour is the love for outward appearances and grand gestures. Specialists argue that the Mediterranean type needs a stage to be noticed by others and to make an impact on them. This open behaviour could explain the theatrical character of mediterranean space and the value of the so-called collective in the open space. This local performance attitude and its spacial manifestations can certainly offer a creative insight to our students to think, conceive and implement innovative spatial expressions of local attitudes able to affect and form the global. Are our graduates enough familiarised with the local so that this could inspire them? Through which of the thematic areas of our curricula presented below can we provide and develop knowledge, skills and sensitivity as learning outcomes to support experimentations on innovative ways to express creatively local behavioural specificities through architectural forms? Please click the appropriate boxes.
3.10.The open-air activities
The mediterranean climate encourages people to be in the open air for a great length of time. The propensity of the mediterranean social behaviour towards outward appearances is easily associated with a personalism that degenerates into a restless, and undisciplined individualism, which expects the collective in order to be manifested. All these understandings of the local behaviour can offer a deep insight into the profound roots of architectural creation and can open the way to be used as motivations for creative experimentations in architectural design. Through which of the thematic areas of our curricula presented below can we provide and develop knowledge, skills and sensitivity as learning outcomes to support experimentations on innovative proposals for spaces to host local open-air activities? Please click the appropriate boxes.
3.11. The organisation of Public space
The organisation of the public space is dependent upon multiple parameters; some of them we have already examined previously. Created to support social interaction of communities whose collective lives are preponderantly spent primarily outside, the public spaces are offered as places enhancing civic and communal spirit. The mediterranean area has a wide variety of public spaces, which could become an important lab to examine the formal, social, ecological and technical aspects of the contemporary design of public spaces. Through which of the thematic areas of our curricula presented below can we provide and develop knowledge, skills and sensitivity as learning outcomes to support experimentations on innovative proposals for public spaces in the contemporary urban fabric? Please click the appropriate boxes.
3.12. The particular relationship between internal and external space
We can say that Architecture is the art of creating limits. One of the most important limits architecture has to manage is the limit between the internal and external space. In the mediterranean area this limit has a very particular identity. It is not a stable limit as the case was with international architecture. On the contrary it is a transformable limit, adaptable to its environment following the agile relationship between internal and external space. This unique condition to be educated to think and work on a conception of a flexible limit as an architectural element, is certainly a value of our education system. Through which of the thematic areas of our curricula presented below can we provide and develop knowledge, skills and sensitivity as learning outcomes to support experimentations on innovative proposals on the design of the limit between interior and exterior space in our contemporary architectural designs? Please click the appropriate boxes.
3.13. The transitional spaces
The mediterranean architecture is very rich in transitional spaces either in the scale of the building, or in the scale of the city. All these spaces have different identities in the urban fabric, non-permanent but adaptable and transformable introducing a profound reconsideration of the notion of the limit natural or artificial, internal or external, material or immaterial, social or environmental. Through which of the thematic areas of our curricula presented below can we provide and develop knowledge, skills and sensitivity as learning outcomes to support experimentations on innovative proposals on the design of the transitional space in our contemporary architectural designs? Please click the appropriate boxes.
3.14. The Landscape
The specificity of the mediterranean landscape is the varied and highly contrasting topography. It offers an ever-changing landscape of high mountains, rocky shores, impenetrable scrub, big forests, coastal wetlands, sandy beaches and a myriad islands of various shapes and sizes dotted amidst the clear blue sea. This topography under the specific climate, the rich flora and fauna and the strong light offer a very specific landscape which can certainly offer to our graduates strong stimuli for reflection and inspiration. Are our graduates sensitive enough to the mediterranean landscape specificity? Are they able to introduce to their designs values, principles, colors, forms or atmospheres from this landscape? Through which of the thematic areas of our curricula presented below can we provide and develop knowledge, skills and sensitivity as learning outcomes to support understanding and inspiration from the mediterranean landscape for experimentations on innovative architectural and landscape design? Please click the appropriate boxes.
3.15. The Building Materials
Stone, clay, straw, reeds, sand, lime, bricks, wood, marble, plaster, ceramics, glass are the traditional materials found mostly in the architecture of the Mediterranean creatively amalgamated with cement and steel are creating an architectural style adapted to the needs of the society and the local climate. Are our students encouraged to reconsider critically the architectural materiality supported by the globalized industry and open the local materials palet to new experimentations using the new technologies and the existing know how? Through which of the thematic areas of our curricula presented below can we provide and develop knowledge, skills and sensitivity as learning outcomes to experiment on new associations of the local and the global in the domain of architectural materiality? Please click the appropriate boxes.
3.16. The need of passive cooling and heating
Mediterranean architecture over time was developed not only with respect to culture, traditional construction materials and morphology but also with respect to environmental and climatic factors adopting passive and climatic responsive strategies. Galleries, roofed verandas, the semi-open spaces, yards, patios, terraces, colours, vegetation, natural ventilation and urban layout are some of the results of the implementation of passive cooling and heating strategies. Do our educational environments encourage the reconsideration of all these local experiences in a way to open innovative directions of formal and technical experimentations? Through which of the thematic areas of our curricula presented below can we provide and develop knowledge, skills and sensitivity as learning outcomes to experiment on new associations of the local and the global in the contemporary needs for passive cooling and heating in our built environment? Please click the appropriate boxes.
3.17. Water resources, scarcity and desalination
One of the main consequences of climate change affecting all sectors of the economy worldwide will be the scarcity of water resources. In the mediterranean region the environmental problems require a new water strategy in order to avoid future problems in food production, the human health, the ecosystems and the national economies. It is necessary to cultivate a new consciousness about the use of natural water at all resources of social and cultural life. Can Architecture contribute to this strong ecological thread? Are our students sensitive enough to this risk? Through which of the thematic areas of our curricula presented below can we provide and develop knowledge, skills and sensitivity as learning outcomes to experiment on new architectural and urban planning strategies and forms to cope with this problem? Please click the appropriate boxes.
3.18. The earthquake
The earthquake is a natural characteristic of the mediterranean area, which affects the production of the built environment. Encountering the earthquake is not only a technical issue. It is also an architectural issue as it can directly affect the design of buildings, their forms, their structure and their functional aspects. Are our students aware enough about the constraints imposed by the earthquake on architectural design? Through which of the thematic areas of our curricula presented below can we provide and develop knowledge, skills and sensitivity as learning outcomes to creatively consider the risks of earthquake in architectural design ? Please click the appropriate boxes.
3.19. The financial problems and the crisis
Mediterranean Countries are strongly affected by the financial crisis. The construction domain is seriously damaged by the crisis and the recovery perspective does not appear possible in the next ten years even for the most optimistic predictions. How can schools of architecture cope with this situation and its impact on the profession of the architect, the identity of the architect and the new constraints of architectural practice? Through which of the thematic areas of our curricula presented below can we provide and develop knowledge, skills and sensitivity as learning outcomes to consider the constraints of the financial crisis in architectural design? Please click the appropriate boxes.
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