What makes a city? Is it architecture that dominates the built environment or is it something else entirely? I think we could all agree that it is, in fact, infrastructure and services networks that constitute the city. Infrastructure and services require constant modification, expansion and renewal in order to keep up with the city’s ever expanding needs and growing population.
In that sense, nothing remains the same; give this, why, then, are architects so focused on permanence? We design complete and static buildings to be implemented in a framework that is ephemeral. Of course, buildings evolve too. We modify them and we demolish them. We extend them and we alter their purpose. An architect, however, cannot foresee what these changes might be and design in accordance.
In a city like London we are given overwhelming evidence that cities are an intricate and complex amalgam of buildings, activities, services and networks of infrastructure that are, in one way or another, temporary. Yet we still observe a clear division between the perpetual and the ephemeral in architecture. A building has four stages in its life: the planning phase, the construction phase, the inhabiting phase and finally, the ‘subsequent’ phase – this may be a modification, an expansion or even demolition. How could the lines between ephemerality and permanence be blurred and questioned? How could these four stages become one?
In a sense, services is the mold and architecture is the cast.