Conflict and Natural Disasters
Polysterene housing in Afghanistan

My first reaction to this seemingly good bit of news posted in the ArchNet lobby was to be wary. Have we not seen this happen in our own countries? To be blessed with a technology we do not know much about and accept as a gift from those who do know. And this very gift handicaps us. It makes us dependant on these technologists over a period of time, especially when time has erased all local building or lifestyle from succeeding memories.

I want to be convinced either one way or the other, in terms of the cultural impact of such foreign introductions to an existing rich heritage. Please opine!

Sushma Shetty
Polysterene housing in Afghanistan
Hi Sushma
I closely relate to your concern that the advent of foreign innovations might accelerate the erasure of traditional (built) heritage and its memory. This may be very well explained by the example of concrete, which was introduced to many countries during the modern movement and has been the single most evident reason that made local building material and technology obsolete.

The case of Afghanistan though might differ in perception, as this technology may be the answer to a large number of more immediate concerns such as fast construction, earthquake stability and cost effectiveness. At the same time, it is also true that a research in local materials might lead us to a similar and more acceptable solution. But the problem may be the lack of time for this war torn country. In my opinion these technologies may be viable if they are considered only short term.
Anjali Agarwal
Polysterene housing in Afghanistan
I think it can do no more than enrich it further. There will always be people who hold on to the past and it's glory, however, we do now live in a time where technology is readily available for everyone, access however might be another problem, but I'll disregard it for now. But fusing ancient building techniques with the ultra modern to create further advances and new building forms new uses for materials etc, is something I personally find very attractive and indeed nothing but positive for future generations. Of course, the side effects you worry abotu are very likely to happen, but my understanding of the whole issue of globalization and the homogonous architecture it produces I think is quite misunderstood. I see it globalization and the culture imperialism has a tendency to get a reaction in people where their own need to re-affirm their own cultural importance increases and over powers the intruding force. Taking it and making it their own and sending it back. People have always moved around, but now with access to information as readily as it is, will I hope, see a boom in cross breeding of architectural styles. Most likely alot of ugly, boring, and un-inspiring work will follow, but I do at the same time think that there will be alot of work that would never have been possible before. It is only through a constant flow and exchange of ideas that we move forward. Is that not our ultimate goal?
Knut Nord


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