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“La Vanguardia del Sentido Común”
By: Architect Benjamín García Saxe
Sometimes I forget to miss another reality that could be better than what I have since I am very busy trying to deal with this one. A bigger problem is not even hoping that there may be another reality even better. We are at an important point in our history and can choose a better path if we pay more attention to our own weaknesses and we propose to change them for the benefit of ourselves and others. Sometimes that change is as simple as taking a few steps back to see what we have lost along the way and picking it up. Sometimes we are so consumed in going forward in search of a “modern concept” that we do not even realize that sometimes what is lost is more than what is earned.
So why do we want a city “of the future” for the car, if that takes away the pleasure to enjoy it on foot? Why do we want to live far from the city and our work if that makes us spend three hours a day in traffic, smoke and stress? Why do we want a house so big and full of rooms that we do not use, if at the end what we owe is more than we can without a true financial freedom? It’s strange but sometimes what we think we want it is really the opposite of what we really yearn for and makes us happy. If only we could live in a safe city, full of green and absent from the roar of the car. If only it were as easy as taking a walk around the park and the city to get to work on time in less than 30 minutes. If only we had the humility of having only what is necessary to be able to live at ease without owing everything and to think that all this is possible already.
The vanguard is not in inventing a new technology that solves a problem that in itself should not have existed in the beginning. That’s just make-up. What good is it to have the best ecological car in the world if I’m going to have to be stuck for hours at traffic? It is common to see that certifications of the highest ecological level are given to buildings that have the same problems of the past but simply added temporary technological solutions to mitigate the energy impact. What is the use of adding a lot of technology to a building to turn on daylight if we can design simpler buildings that simply provide enough controlled natural lighting to never have to turn them on? As an architect I often have to work with people who want a bigger home project than they can afford and expect an “architectural style” that resembles their own self-assessment of the status where they are in society. I see this as an analogy to the world of brands and consumerism. The architectural product is valued depending on what “brand looks” (modern, neocolonial, tropical, sustainable, etc …) and that in turn will determine the degree of satisfaction of the owners and even their “happiness.”
I am very sorry to see that even in rural areas that are flooded very frequently every year in our country, block constructions have spread to the floor. It is only necessary to see what has been done for decades, with houses made of wood and raised from the ground, to understand that this blind search for the image makes us obviate even the most intrinsic survival instinct. I have also been able to be part of the beautiful process of self-discovery of the client to realize that really the things that make you happier in your home have nothing to do with the money you invest in the project. That they are the simple, human and subtle things, that we share, those that generate the form of a home, be it constructed of cardboard, wood or marble. The pursuit of beauty does not distinguish budgets. In Costa Rica we can be at the forefront of common sense. This route costs nothing, it is ecological and it is honest. It requires nothing more than the humility to recognize our own contradictions and weaknesses in order to change the paradigm of our own reality.