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Cristina López Uribe



Inquire about the darkness forces us to pay attention to that half of our existence which we often overlook. We are asleep –or stunned in a world of artificial lighting that attempts to recreate daylight– most of that time in which our world experiences thousands of climatic, physical and chromatic variations. Much of the research on our cities, architecture and landscape –but also on other sciences of knowledge– focus on the world experienced during daylight.  We often think that to know something is to see it in the light, that those things that we do not see are those which we cannot really know. Le Corbusier said in the early twenties: “Architecture is the learned game, correct and magnificent, of forms assembled in the light.” Following this assumption, we could then understand that there is no architecture at night, or that in a world without artificial lighting, architecture would depend on the moonlight to exist, but again, it would disappear in moonless nights. Something happens at night that completely changes our perception of things. The transparency of modern architecture, in this world of electricity loses its characteristics to acquire the opposite: it becomes bright. What is reflective becomes transparent. A building with many volumetric details becomes flat. Tall buildings escape beyond our sight in the shadows. The streets are illuminated and the pavements and textures become clearer to our sight. When history has studied night and darkness it has generally done so from the point of view of lighting, and from the progressive achievement of illuminating cities -as an indicator of social progress. Few have been those who have made history from the point of view of darkness, and written about the many ways in which men and women have faced the night. About their relationship with an event of an actual cosmological significance. Night and darkness have –naturally– been associated by men with feelings of a negative connotation, as insecurity or fear, and with the greatest of them all: the fear of the unknown. Anything could happen at night, it is the territory where all the monsters and terrors of our ancestors live, and where wizards and witches make their appearance to protect us against entities that are immaterial –because we cannot see them. These statements, which may seem old to us, remain nowadays. We continue associating the night

lighting with safety, when evidence shows that during the night many fewer crimes occur. But there is a charm in the darkness that stimulates our senses. Writers such as Baudelaire and Poe have taught us with its many subtleties this enjoyment of the mystery, the fascination of the risk that accompanies the dark in its many nuances, experienced in a night urban walk. We can still live these experiences, in spite of the increasing intent to illuminate our cities, as if daylight. As explained by Fernando González Gortázar: "We have lost the night, we lost it, we cannot enjoy it, it has become the space of fear. This is to mourn. And many authorities -sometimes by mere prudishness that makes them see it as 'sinful'- fight the night life, without understanding that the best way to have a secure night is by having a night used, enjoyed, active, busy. "In a metaphorical sense the proposed issue could also serve as a pretext to unveil the hidden, to study things in the depth of darkness in which they have been held, but by understanding them where they are, not to bring them out and introduce them to a clear and luminous explanation, but in their dark and fascinating hideaway.

Cristina López Uribe


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BITÁCORA ARQUITECTURA Número 39, marzo-julio 2018 es una publicación cuatrimestral, editada por la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ciudad Universitaria, Delegación Coyoacán, C.P. 04510, Ciudad de México, a través de la Coordinación editorial de la Facultad de Arquitectura, Circuito Escolar s/n, Ciudad Universitaria, Delegación Coyoacán, Ciudad de México, C.P. 04510, teléfono: 56 22 03 18. URL: Correo: Editora responsable de la revista digital: Cristina López Uribe. Certificado de Reserva de Derechos al uso Exclusivo del Título No. en trámite. ISSN-e: 2594-0856, ambos otorgados por el Instituto Nacional del Derecho de Autor. Responsable de la última actualización de este número, Coordinación Editorial de la Facultad de Arquitectura, Circuito Escolar s/n, Ciudad Universitaria, Delegación Coyoacán, Ciudad de México, C.P. 04510, tel: 56220318, Fecha de la última modificación: 28 de Enero de 2019.

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