God is in the details

God is in the details

Much has been writen on this aphorism I've seen to be attributed to several authors, from the predictable Mies, to Einstein or to Renaissance’s Michelangelo. It is also discussed if this will be the original sentence or, rather, if it’s the devil that’s in the details. I confess that in this case I don’t care a lot about semantic rigor or scientific correction.

When I hear this motto, I always think that it applies to my area of ​​work. It seems indeed to have been conceived thinking about architecture. And it makes perfect sense to me to be so.

The truth is that details are really important and what often distinguishes good and bad architecture. They certainly make it easier to distinguish what is or isn’t architecture, and what is intentional from what is casuistic.

Each project has its own logic, which reveals itself at some stage in the creative process and that should, in my view, be followed in an objective manner, in order to provide consistency. A good solution in one context may not be so in another, so you should leave for each project without preconceived ideas, exploring the best possible way the rules intrinsic to the path you are exploring. I do not mean that you should always be trying to discover the wheel, on the contrary. I believe that most of the things are already invented, our job is to recombine them in the best and most appealing way that we possibly can, given the context and the narrative line that we are exploring at each moment.

Naturally, when an architect finds and successfully tests a solution to a constructive problem, he tends to repeat this response in other projects. I have nothing against this option and I already did it several times. It seems to me though that when said repetition does not fit the rules of a project and nevertheless is used, becomes a language tic, an alien to the process. Even if it is a hallmark of a particular author, it acquires a negative connotation. Apart from that I believe that a work need not be immediately recognized as being of a particular architect. I think that different problems should have diverse answers. The thread of a creator’s journey must be the quality at every moment, not the aesthetic analogy between his works.

When you visit a well achieved architectural work, there are often small details that attract the attention by their proportion, correctness, originality and quality afforded to the whole. There is a holistic quality in these situations, in which each piece contributes to a harmonious and coherent whole and is inextricably linked to it. It is an integral part of its DNA. These details make the difference and also make perfect sense. They exalt the artistic component of that work, inducing us to an elevation in our mood. They are, in my opinion, manifestations of the sacred. They make me believe that it is indeed God who is in the details and not the competition...


2011, April