Connections, relationships

Vasco Pinto Magalhães 

Knowing how to connect and disconnect is a great art. For example, by connecting sounds or colours we achieve music and art based on harmony and meaning. We also connect words, concepts, and feelings. In doing so, we reveal secrets hidden in our hearts and minds. Furthermore, there is no connection without disconnection. In the processes of connecting and disconnecting, we need to make choices. We need to choose to provide order.

A person with a place among other people orders that space. To have a place among other people opens doors for coordinating relationships between people, which makes the world habitable. That is, a world where peace and the development of life are possible: this is architecture.

All of reality is screaming out for release from chaos. This release is achieved through relationship and connection. To hear that scream (which is a groan at times) is to commit oneself creatively to finding paths of development and humanisation: this is culture. To cultivate those paths is a service to life. Above all, in personal life: in one’s urge and desire to be who one is; to transcend oneself by communicating. This urge and desire take shape in the continuous search for safety, meaning, and place.

However, culture’s enemies are well disguised. For instance, the individualistic assertion, the easy exchange of the cosmic for the cosmetic, and the illusion of consumerist pleasure are forces that block and deceive. Indeed, these forces damage relationships of respect and beauty. Individualism perverts the liberty that is only cultivated through shared responsibility; the cosmetic disrespects the time and form of reality by remaining satisfied with the immediacy of superficiality; consumerism demands rights without duties. All of this creates social and ecological ruptures: it kills connections.

Now, the culture that connects us – inside and outside – opens windows to balanced lives, to just relationships, and weights culture’s impact on the environment. Since a person is also a part of nature, the environment includes both nature and the person inhabiting it.

Culture is patient and evolves creatively. Courageous and responsible culture cares for the common good, and gives, receives, and interconnects: it is the engine of humanisation.

I firmly believe that culture only exists if we believe in the human’s capacity for self-transcendence: to go beyond oneself, which is more important than going beyond the conventional. This is the real test: to be able to move the focus from oneself, and instead, to focus on the good of others or on higher values. However, one has to be centered within oneself before one can transcend oneself. This is the true sense of the connection that becomes relationship in everything I do and think. The question is: How do I connect to life?

Furthermore, what distinguishes human beings from other creatures are their relationships and their “identifying” quality. It is one thing to have connections (and relationships) to matter, to the spirit, to others, to space and time, etc., it is another to be conscious of those relationships (more or less chosen and accepted) that make me the person that I am.

The architect chooses or accepts a plot of land. The architect ponders the background, the resources and the human and environmental consequences of the desired work. What for? How? With whom? The architect searches for the right questions that connect ideas, time, space and people. The architect knows that “reality takes priority over ideas”. The architect believes in the value of these connections and designs the project as the culmination of desired relationships. The architect never constructs alone, nor does he/she build for oneself. And he/she mobilizes all the inter-relationships that are needed to give substance to the spirit.

When one opens the window, it is like someone starting a conversation; one opens opportunities. A building’s windows are like the windows of the soul, they allow for entry and exit. It is a risk. It is always a delicate play between two complementary things: the search for intimacy and for outwardness. Both of which seek and protect relationships and connections.

What is the right place, the right measure, the right time? The response can be seen in art when each of us can put ourselves in the other’s shoes without leaving our own, and it is in that conversation that harmony, meaning and beauty are created.

There is no need for a battle between function and aesthetics, if the paradigm is the person among people, and not economics or technology. These fields of knowledge are meant to be at our service…What is necessary is to have the sense of the common good, of the global that does not kill the local, of unity that does not eliminate difference. There has to be dialogue between the connections that inhabit our minds, our hearts and our wills.

Only love can be the architect of the Good.