The huge tor of Fraga da Pena used to built a double enclosure in the late third millennium BC. Here seen from the valley.
The approach to Architecture that interests me is based on an anthropological perspective of space, where, in human construction, natural and artificial are cast, as also proposed by ecological approaches. Thinking architectures is thinking their contexts, the global social environment from which they emerge and simultaneously help to fabricate: sets of actions, meanings and materiality through which the human dwelling of time and space occurs. It reflects experiences and perceptions of space; it is relative to technological stages and options; satisfies specific practical needs while expresses and acts over ascetics, ideologies and current social relations; functions as a communication device of explicit and implicit meanings.
It does so through the physical structures but also through the ways space is organized and through associated activities. Corresponds to the construction of active scenarios, conditioned (because they transport tradition and respond to social needs) and conditioning (because they actively interfere in social relations, enabling and conforming them), in the context of human agency in a given time and space.
Architecture inevitably involves a space organization through the imposing of meanings and by doing so goes further than the simple notions of occupation and construction. Furthermore, it deals in a meaningful way with forms but also with the emptiness, with the positive and with the negative, with the added features but also with the previous categorized “natural” elements of a given space.
In this sense, as a process of building and organizing meaningful spaces, Architecture is not linked, in a restrictive way, to the human material construction. In an Anthropological perspective there is no undifferentiated space in human dwelling. Space is always categorized, classified, and only the ways of doing so are contingent. Before interfere through construction, man architects the space using its elements, the experiences and perceptions that they provide and the associated meanings. When building Man tends to use these previous features with their symbolic meanings and associated experiences, incorporating them as architectonic elements in the space organization.
There is no architecture made over an empty and insignificant neutral space. To understand a “building” implies to understand the previous meaningful place where it was built. Being that a granitic tor (as Fraga da Pena), a natural amphitheatre (as Perdigões) or the particular place where stands the modern Centro Cultural de Belém (in Lisbon).