And here we are before a failed European economic model. Obverse to the US and Japan, we – PIIGS, GIPSIs, whatever you want to call us – cannot count on anything more than deflation as a mechanism to compete – yes, compete – with the economies of central Euro Zone. That’s why we are peripheral. But, let’s not forget: we are only peripheral to whatever reference we choose to use. Change is needed.
In the past couple of years, €1 in every €5 of whatever is produced in this world changed hands. From PIIGS to BRICS. By 2020 it is expected that almost half of world’s GDP belongs to new-economically-developed-countries. While that happens, the Euro area is already a double-digit-unemployment-rate-territory (Portugal – 13.7%; Ireland – 14.4%; Italy – 8.4%; Greece – 18.3% and Spain – 22.8%).
The fast decadence of Europe and an “hungover” US (thanks to a geographical shift of industrilized-monopoly to East) left them “empty”, in so many levels. They are no longer the land of milk and honey that many thought they were. Even the “American Dream” is not the same.
Be it in Detroit or Alicante or Dublin, immeasurable cubic meters of completely empty, unused, absent of human activity spaces mirror the greed of speculators, the lack of control and the financial engineering of dreams. And in all of this there’s a big degree of responsibility on public and private promoters as well as on architects.
The shrinking of family-models, together with the “boomerang-generation” are making more and more houses “available”. Suburban and touristic houses are being emptied. Spain alone had by 2008 (officially before the crisis started) 1 million houses with no one living in them. Last year that number rose to 3.4 million. If we add up ventures like the CICCM (in Madrid) or the Anglo Irish Bank (in Dublin) to already now-questionable buildings like La Maddalena (and all the scams around the L’Aquila earthquake), if we add up empty sports/cultural facilities, it should not expected that we, as Europeans be proud of ourselves. Other buildings (socially more relevant) will not be built, a lot because of the situation we’re in now. As Roubini put it, these were/are “private games with public loses”.
But these are not first-time episodes. We cannot fall in this trap in which we always think that everything is unedited and different to what happened in the past. Unfinished (architectural) works have forever existed. When is a work, a building ever “finished”? We should look at this and understand it. Buildings are not just built ideas, they are also the reflection of a past in which we were brought up in. If, as creators, we did our best to understand what’s around us and modify it for the better, then we should not be ashamed of ourselves. The problem is that, we continue to avoid looking at the big picture. We continue to promote ventures that will not be able to be paid totally. At least, not without (mainly) middle class sacrifice. Worse than the financial debt is the lack of values, responsibility and conscience.