Interplay of Cultures
In recent decades, many Western architectural schools have taken up the challenge to tackle global polarities and humanitarian crises. Educational programs raising awareness of the "south – north", "developing – developed", "poor – rich" dichotomies are all asking the same question: What is the role of architecture in the globalizing world?
Since 1993, the Department of Architecture at Aalto University has offered courses on development issues dealing with the reality of architecture, building design and urban planning outside Europe, with cultural understanding as the starting point.
The course, originally called Interplay of Cultures was first developed and undertaken by architects Hennu Kjisik and Veikko Vasko, under Juhani Pallasmaa's deanship. From the beginning, it has been about careful analysis and learning about local conditions, about communication with local stakeholders and communities, and listening to the needs and aspirations of the local people. It has been more about pondering the values on which we base our profession, and the moralities we choose to follow in our practices – and what we can learn from ourselves, when venturing out to the unknown. It was, and still is, about mutual learning and respecting other ways of seeing the world.
In recent years the focus has moved from strictly architectural towards more interdisciplinary approaches, embracing disciplines from other Schools of Aalto University – namely from Aalto University's Sustainable Global Technologies (SGT) Programme, where students in multidisciplinary teams carry out projects linked to global development challenges in collaboration with partners from academia, industries, government and civil society organizations and local communities.
The exhibition, first organized at the Museum of Finnish Architecture in 2018, and this catalogue discuss questioning and redefining the role of architecture in our societies and the globalizing world, where the challenges are too big to tackle with one disciplinary knowledge alone.