MANIFESTO 2013 TERRA FIRMA? – AFTER THE EARTHQUAKE Skopje Architecture Week invites the design disciplines to examine an urgent social issue in relation to a particular urban condition. The SAW serves as a platform, a catalyst and a mediator between local and global cultures, thus advocating an international exchange of ideas and encouraging public discussion among designers, researchers, academics, artists, politicians, public authorities, real estate developers and other investors, social organizations and the public at large, at home and abroad. We use the timing to generate an overview of the nation-wide processes hiding behind the title TERRA FIRMA. Within a given period of time – centuries or millennia – enterprises, kingdoms and nation-states are born and die in their thousands, with rare exceptions, cities go on. At best, they change names. The materiality of the city itself allows it to survive. Once there, it stays. In contrast, the more abstract framing of kingdoms and nation-states, and even enterprises, means they can disappear with few traces. A city destroyed is the source for its rebuilding. The increasingly homogenized landscapes and built environments of the so-called glamour zones of a city tend to obscure the fact that specific urban histories feed particular specialized advantages, and hence a connection to the past. The past is easily petrified into beautiful ruins and as a tourist destination. Cities state-of-the-art glamour zones also speak the language of disconnection. But when we recover these articulations, some of the trend evident in each of the cities of the urban age become more understandable, whether through the specialized differences present everywhere across the cities, or through the juxtaposition of urban glamour zones and poverty zones. In its most extreme format, each global city has a global slum. Does this undermine the question of the Terra Firma on an economic level or at best misinterpret the architectural language and steers the city on the path of no return.
[*the text contains references to – Endless City by Saskia Sassen]