Daniel Urban Kiley Lecture: João Nunes

João Nunes is full Professor at the Architecture Academy of Mendrisio, and serves as Director of the Milan branch of the Master in Landscape Architecture program at the the Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya in Barcelona. In 2013 he was the first recipient of the Adalberto Libera Excellence Chair for Architecture [Trento University -Italy]. He is the founder and CEO of the Landscape Architecture Studio PROAP, which aims to work and research landscape through a multidisciplinary team and approach.

PROAP is a Landscape Architecture Studio, based in Lisbon, with agencies in Italy, Angola and local partners in China and Brazil. The work of the Studio ranges from landscape projects and studies, urban design, strategic landscape planning. PROAP became internationally known during the Lisbon Expo in 1998 for the Tejo Park and, since then, has realized projects in Portugal (Ribeira das Naus, Mondego Park, Cava do Viriato), Belgium (Antwerp Waterfront), Switzerland (Promenade des Crétes, PAV Etoile), Lebanon (Khan Antoun Bey Souk), Italy and Luxembourg.

Landscapes of memory, landscapes of forgetfulness

We are artisans of memory.
We are constructors of Future.

Landscapes are records of time.
As formidable books where, page after page, moment after moment, all the signs of the world are inscribed.
All the marks imprinted by the mechanisms which perform in the world, from footprints to atomic explosions, from gardens to cities, from minor walls to massive bridges.
That is the constructive process of landscape, the record, the keen continuous acceptance of imprints throughout the world, the process of combining them, of blending them, of, with them, producing something else altogether. And to recombine them again, sewed together in active metabolisms.

And if, in each moment, we are interested in the Image manifestation of that process, the spatial expression of that metabolism, the physiognomy in which that process consecrates, in that precise moment of our interest, it should interests us (as conscious actors of the process itself, as deciders of the evolution of that process, summarily, as architects) to know the rules of its functioning, the parameters of the mechanisms which draw them, the metabolic relations which constitute them.

As such, we recognize in each stone, in each form of the Earth, the echoes of the geological memory which shaped them, the imprints of the erosion mechanisms which have sculpted them, the remains of plants which have inhabited them, the records of animal footprints which have crossed it, and the men which, before us, have transformed it time and time again.
Landscapes are thick memories of Time and they are filled with Future, pregnant with the information that the mutations added throughout that time; they are the complex record of a transformation that describes, in each moment, what a landscape was and what presently is, what it possesses and, yet secretly, the sketch of the embryo of what shall be.

A codified genetic record which is not encapsulated in a synthetic determinism of a DNA, on the contrary, it is continuously written, vaguely conducted, remotely free, subliminally random, fulfilling, in each moment, the vacant instant between the Past and the Future.
And , in each layer of that thick time, there will be the condemnation to build, coherently, the continuity in that time.
Remembering or forgetting, celebrating or burying, consecrating or erasing, in the history of that construction, are the severe decisions to take in each moment.
In each gesture, in each day, in each project.

If Space and Time are the matter of landscape construction, Memory and Forgetfulness are the tools to its continuous transformation.
And the decision, conscious or not, of what to remember and what to forget, the continuous management of our memory, personal and collective, is the equation of the construction of the time line which appears inevitable and unique, but that is only one of the many possible paths between past and future.
A construction, a building, with every casual and random element which, in time, is configured.
And we cross, hesitant as blind men, the halls of that building, driven by the choice to remember or to forget, by the need to remember or to forget, cartesianly located in each moment of Time by that choice which draws, in the same selective manner, a Past and a Future. 


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