LAPIERRE Éric Ordinary Condition (2018)

But the crisis was so deep that it took a paradigm shift to allow architecture to continue credibly existing in the contemporary world: everything had to change so that nothing would. To preserve and protect architecture as a meaningful system of building, we have to give up, on one hand, the notion of it one day becoming a unified language again and, on the other, that of reviving forms made sterile by the disappearance of the systems of production that gave rise to them ever being a serious option. For ages, architecture’s only objective was the exceptional building. In but a few decades, the superhuman power of the Industrial Revolution altered reality quantitatively like no other phenomenon before it, dragging architecture into the relentless waves of massification: there were more buildings raised in the twentieth century than ever before in history. This shift in the centre of gravity from the exceptional towards the mass changed the very definition of architecture. One consequence of this phenomenon is that the distinction between monument and ordinary architecture is in crisis today: ordinary programs such as housing blocks, office buildings, data centers and logistics platforms are, by their physical dimensions and importance in the social scale, more monumental than many public buildings meant to assume the traditional role of monumental constructions forever representing a community. Furthermore, buildings meant to be monuments today are now being built out of ordinary materials: from low-cost housing to great institutions, drywall and shuttered concrete prevail everywhere, along with their crews of unskilled workers. Short of losing the exceptional status that defines it, the monument cannot be multiplied forever: today’s monumental inflation negates the very possibility of producing monuments.