The Hydrospatial City Manifest
In accordance with its impulses and vital responses, mankind has not advanced at an even pace concerning its own habitat. Architecture comprises very different basic needs and it is not advisable to remain oppressed by the magnitude of its dead weight.
So far we have only made minimal use of our mental faculties, and this by adjusting them to modules which in a way derive from the so-called modern or "functional" architecture. That is, the small constraining flat which a society imposes upon us through its compulsory economy. Not to mention the sad fact that this is so with the full support of those architects and engineers who will not admit that the whole vocabulary concerning building construction may some day be replaced by a different, markedly revolutionary architectonial language and that this may shake rigid convictions and purely logical notions resulting from academical teaching, which are already becoming obsolete. But social structures and the mechanisms of behaviour -rupture, protest- are symptoms of a change towards the elimination of the state's omnipotent role and its replacement by an efficient administration. In 1944, I asserted in "Arturo" that "Man is not to end his days on Earth" and, in the Manifesto Madí of 1946 I stated that architecture should be "habitat and displaceable forms in space". Although these concepts had their origin in an intuitive insight, they are also marked by an impending and inexorable rationality.
Throughout the various stages I have gone through in the field of the visual arts, my basic orientation has remained the same, and the proposal of The Hidrospatial City is an uninterrupted continuum, although I acknowledge my own contradictions in that I create hydrosculptures, "hydroluminical" and hydrokinetic reliefs for an architecture which I am attacking at its very roots. The aim is to free human beings from each and every tie. This transformation, anticipated by science and technology, supports our belief that it is not too bold to penetrate and investigate the absolute, through the possible, on the basis of a deliberate imaginative and chain-like interaction: a trans-individual imagination, without goals set in advance. Thus, the first project or formulation of a city suspended in space published in "Arturo" and in the Manifesto Madí were not hypotheses or support theories but rather derivates from the vision of a continuum and of another dimension. The adventure of mankind does not stop before the unpredictable. On the contrary, our road leads to what is original and unknown, and when a change becomes a need, this course is accelerated.
To have our roots on the Earth or, to be more accurate, on the water planet -even though its atmosphere, its food and its waters are contaminated-, to witness, helpless, the persistent geographical and geological depredation, to watch how the ecological balance is slowly destroyed, to verify the constant demographic growth - all these are so many incentives for the radical changes we are already anticipating as a biological need. What we are in fact suggesting here is the construction of the human habitat, actually using space at a height of a thousand or a thousand and five hundred meters, in cities conceived of ad-hoc with a previous feeling of co-existence and a differenciated "modus vivendi".
Architecture has always depended on the soil and the laws of gravity. Such laws can be scientifically used so that the hydrospatial dwelling may become a reality, that is, viable from the technological point of view: to try and build a few dwellings as a preliminary test in order to gradually come to the "Hydrospatial City" proper.
The views of some astrophysicists and spatial engineers coincide in that, by taking water from the clouds and decomposing it by electrolysis, it would be possible to use oxigen to breathe, while hydrogen introduced into a nuclear reactor would provide enough energy to keep the habitat suspended, even when it displaces itself. Other views concern the possibility of crystallizing water and through its polymerization, endowing it with energy.
Thus, it is not a question of overcoming the laws of gravity but of creating the support energy. That is why I am addressing all the scientists working for N.A.S.A. to learn their own views.
The cost is indeed very high, but the carrying out of this project would become possible if we could only stop the world guns production for 24 hours and invested on the project the money thus saved. Hydrospatial architecture is designed so as to be indefinitely suspended in space. The hydrospatial nomadic dwelling will deteriorate present-day economy, which is based on the value of the soil, and raise sociological questions which cannot be anticipated.
Similarly, it will open up new avenues in the world of art, since our civilization is entering the post-industrial period. Thus, the proposal set forth here is an art belonging to everybody and not an art for everybody. By eliminating every type of go-betweens, art becomes tacitly integrated into the habitat, it dissolves into it and into life, it is its presentation, its "modus vivendi".
Places created with a sense of synthesis and community life are art's natural extensions. What, then, is the use of painting, sculpture, indeed, of the "object", if all that is already contained in the dwelling that occupies space, the internal sense of that space, volume, colour, movement?
There are more than four billion inhabitants on the Earth but only 30.000 of them experience this shock caused by the future. There is no civilization through spontaneous generation. The Mayas, the Incas, the Chinese and the other Eastern civilizations, Gothic art, the Mediterranean Greco-Roman art, the Renaissance, they all had their cultural cycles and their parabole has been completed. Our civilization is the best one because it is the one we live in, but let us for an instant imagine the world crash that would ensue if we stopped making cars: the shock of a possible inmediate future.
Art as a "Song to History", "the currency of the absolute", "the direct apprehension of reality", "ideological superstructure" or "individual transcendence" are all definitions that will be left behind by the visionary splendor of a new way of thinking and feeling, of an irreversible cultural flowering reaching infinite and not confined to Earth.
We must replace the rooms that have become an architectonic and peripherical ritual -living-room, dining-room, bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, furniture- by serene and intense but fully differentiated proposals concerning places to live in.
Yes, within a space, but occupying space-time with all its attributes; not as an alteration of the human adventure but as an understandable need deriving from our human condition.
Other conditionings are likely to appear but in the hydrospatial city we are determined to do away with anxiety and sickness, to re-discover the value of love, and recreations of intelligence, humour, play, sports, indefinite joys, mental posibilities yet unexplored, the abolition of geographical boundaries and of the limits imposed on thinking. Is this an utopian idealism? Not at all. Those who do not believe in its feasibility are still clinging to the cave, to war and deluge. Therefore, to dissolve art into the dwelling-place and into life itself is to herald synthesis and integration.
Buenos Aires, 1971