As a part of the Desire panel debate at UIA World Congress of Architects CPH 2023, Madeleine Kate McGowan represented NXT in discussion on beauty as a part of the green transition in the built environment, in front of a full auditorium at Bella Center, Copenhagen.
Apart from NXT, the panel featured Enlai Hooi (Senior Associate & Head of Innovation at Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects), Louise Vogel Kielgast (Anthropologist and Director at Gehl Architects) and Indy Johar (Architect & Co-Founder, Architecture 00 and Dark Matter Labs).
Initiating the discussion Enlai Hooi proposed:
-So, the question is how to model your effects or how can you read and register the effects of the materials for example or the processes that you’re in when you design a building. That demands an enormous amount of research but it also kind of demands a little bit of activism as well – because you can only live and guide yourself by your own knowledge and your own experiences and sometimes you have to take what we call the precautionary approach or the precautionary measures of if it looks like it’s going to be bad then it probably is, Hooi said.
McGowan continued by asking a question:
-I would ask the question – beautiful to whom? Creating architecture that is beautiful to whom? In the future, not just humans I guess. What is beauty to a bee? What is beauty to a bird? What is beauty to all these different creatures that we are living here with? I think this change in perception is so exciting. And this is also why we are in a time that’s extremely paradoxical. It’s so exciting to experiment with new shapes, but at the same time we’re also facing this massive destruction,” Madeleine Kate McGowan said.
Indy Johar of Dark Matter Labs kept the reflections going:
-Now we’re going to see a new type of aesthetic emerge, as Madeleine Kate so eloquently pointed out, as we start to recognise our interdependence with the world and our entanglement. Not just as human beings, but every other species, and how we imagine that relationship. So a new aesthetic will emerge, and it will be rooted in new ethics, and more importantly, it needs to be rooted in a new theory of materiality, ecology, and how we think about that stuff at a deep code level.
And to imagine the future of architecture we must reimagine how we derive comfort, Johar continued:
-What does this future look like? And it will be beautiful, but just be a different type of beauty. And that is for you to discover as architects and designers. To discover the new ethics and their form in aesthetics.