O excerto apresentado a seguir é parte de um artigo do Journal of Aesthetics Education sobre o Estúdio Rural, uma disciplina de extensão universitária da universidade de Auburn idealizada pelo arquiteto e professor Samuel Mockbee. Neste estúdio, durante um semestre, os estudantes vivem junto a comunidades do Condado de Hale (Alabama) a fim de produzir arquitetura em diálogo com a população. O artigo enquadra bem várias das questões presentes na trajetória do Estúdio, apesar de parecer um tanto quanto preconceituoso em algumas passagens. O autor utiliza-se de vocabulário bourdieuano (como habitus, etc), mas não reduz a expressão estética a apenas uma construção mercantil como alguns seguidores de Bordieu fazem: enfatiza a peculiaridade local do Estúdio Rural ressaltando o papel da apropriação popular da estética da reutilização de materiais e do diálogo, mediado por tal materialidade, criado com os estudantes-arquitetos da universidade.
Os grifos dos trechos apresentados são meus.
Having escaped the colonizing brain drain of capitalist kitsch culture by choosing Hale County as a field of activity, the Rural Studio’s junk art joins, in an entirely miraculous way, the aesthetic ways of the region. Despite the provocative forms and the use of industrial materials, these houses seem to have become part of the landscape, something they have in common with the Alabama houses photographed by Christenberry or Walker Evans. Again, this shows the exceptional constellation of cultural and cognitive elements into which this architecture is embedded. While the vernacular represents classicism created out of economic need, the Rural Studio creates avant- garde architecture out of economic need. Within the thrifty economies of the poor American South, people have always used junk not only for construction but also for matters of aesthetic enhancement. Shannon Criss observes the “creative ways in which people transformed commonplace objects into yard art,” which led them (as well as the architects/students working in the territory) to discover a “new potential for commonplace material.” She notes that the inhabitants “collect and stockpile things with the sense that they may someday come in handy.” A kind of vernacular experimental art, dependent on an unusual economic situation, seems to have been practiced here for decades. People have the artistic intuition that “things are contingent, as there is not a definite plan [and that] everything has potential.” The “regionalist” character of the studio’s work can be understood only in this context. […]
This architecture incorporates some of the charm of the “self-made” not only because of its politics of participation but also because of the particular cultural or “aesthetic” situation in which the vernacular itself has incorporated some of the anticapitalist experimental art, which, in more urban contexts, would be necessarily interpreted as progressive. This is why any pedagogy similar to the Rural Studio’s will most likely not work in an urban context. Only in Hale County, where the living style of the people becomes a work of spatial, ritualized art in itself on which the studio projects its works, can these conceptually modern, futurist concepts be introduced as if they were a matter of an absolute present, without yielding the slightest indication toward a progressive future. […]
Like the architects of Hale County, the architect of the Japanese teahouse not only revels in organic, imperfect, and incomplete expressions; he is also determined by a “now and here” attitude, which pushes him to search for highly personalized solutions. This is why, in these architectures, both regionalism and modernity are simply “what they are” and do not advertise themselves as ideologies. Much of this is contained in Mockbee’s paradoxical formula “we don’t try to be southern, we just end up that way because we try to be authentic,” through which he appears as a true artist of everyday life.
There is no doubt that both Frampton and Kunze intend to advocate the best architecture possible, and their observations make sense in some way. However, they overlook the imminent danger of the political instrumentalization of vernacular architecture in terms of globalization issues or political issues in general. If the third world really does what Frampton suggests, its “Third World Architecture” will immediately be lifted onto the international political stage and forced to play a “global” role that it was not destined for in the first place. To play out the vernacular against the international makes sense as a political project but not necessarily as an artistic or architectural one. Architects like Philip Johnson and Henry-Russell Hitchcock favored an international style because it was “good for an increasingly hegemonic US international politics,” and the third world might therefore try to contradict internationalist globalism by producing its vernacular architecture en masse. The problem is that, as I have shown above, the vernacular cannot be produced in such a “professional” way.
Maiken Umbach summarizes this problem when writing that the political instrumentalization of the vernacular “has a tendency to solidify that which we want to define as fluid and constructed.” Soon this instrumentalization will create a “nostalgic idealization of a past that never actually existed.” […] Umbach suggests that we should look for regionalist identities not in solidified but “fluid” expressions. […] If Hale County really were a third world country, Southern style architecture would have been solidified. We prefer the liquid forms of the Rural Studio.
BOTZ-BORNSTEIN, Thorsten. “Cardboard Houses with Wings: The Architecture of Alabama’s Rural Studio” in The Journal of Aesthetics Education, v. 44, n. 3, 2010, pp. 16–22. Disponível em http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/jae/summary/v044/44.3.botz-bornstein.html
Parece que o artigo cai na armadilha de evocar uma “arquitetura da autenticidade”, ainda que tente desviar dela alertando para o perigo de fetichizá-la (de modo a não se diferenciar substancialmente da defesa por vezes ingênua do regionalismo crítico feita nos anos 80 por críticos famosos como o mesmo Frampton citado pela autora). Mas sem dúvida está certo em ressaltar as qualidades únicas do Estúdio Rural e de como ele não deve ser encarado como uma “melhor prática”, visto que está intimamente ligado ao lugar e ao contexto social em que se insere.