Get Fit. Lose Weight. Be a Better YOU.
Slogans like these constantly inundate us across media sources, and the premise is always the same: a healthy body is sexy, desirable, better. The opposite is similarly true: if you’re fat or obese, you aren’t just unhealthy, you’re sick. You need to be ‘cured.’
This moralization of “healthy” is symptomatic of a greater obsession and anxiety over our health in general, an obsession that has led to what Giovanni Borasi and Mirko Zardini, editors of Imperfect Health, call “medicalization; a process in which ordinary problems are defined in medical terms and understood through a medical framework” (15). The book has been published by the Canadian Center for Architecture with Lars Müller Publishers, and it is part of an exhibit accompanied by an online TV channel.
This process has similarly formed a concept that design and architecture are tools for healthiness and well-being; hence the proliferation of Green built environments that supposedly (1) recuperate nature from dastardly human deeds and (2) “craft a body that is ideal or at least in good health, apparently re-naturalized or better yet, embedded in nature” (19). Just think of the NYC High Line‘s recuperation of land left “damaged” by technology, a vastly popular project that motivates the human body to walk, run, and play in nature rather than sit sedentarily (unhealthily) in a toxin-emitting vehicle.
But is this idea itself a healthy way to conceptualize of Architecture? Is this goal of “healthiness” even possible to attain?
More on Imperfect Health after the break.
The book, a collection of essays, photographs, and informative blurbs (each distinguished in the table of contents by groupings of key words – from asthma and allergies to longevity and retirement), is a visually-engaging, comprehensive study of the history of the medicalization of architecture. The book tracks how the 20th century notion of the city has changed from that of a “sick body” that infects its citizens to the 21st century idea of the city as a therapeutic instrument that ‘cures’ its citizens.
Ultimately, Borasi and Zardini argue that this concept is misguided in its impossibility and moralism. What is needed in our society is the demedicalization of architecture: to place it outside of the moralism of medicalized discourse and shift the role of architecture from that which cures, to that which cares.
The book, published by the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) and Lars Müller Publishers, springs from the CCA’s current exhibition in Montreal, Imperfect Health: The Medicalization of Architecture, on view until 15 April, 2012. The information is similarly supplemented by a website, a microsite (called Imperfect TV), and an e-book.
004 miasmas; sanitation; green lungs
015 DEMEDCALIZE ARCHITECTURE
038 trees; pollen; allergy and asthma free
054 biodiversity; green façade; vertical farming
066 forest; nature
082 ventilation; light, air, sun
090 pollution; air cleaners; filtration
097 ALLERGIC LANDSCAPES, BUILT ENVIRONMENTS AND HUMAN HEALTH
117 A THEORY OF POLLUTION FOR ARCHITECTURE
133 STRANGE BEDFELLOWS: MODERNISM AND TUBERCULOSIS
152 asthma; dust
164 allergy; emission-free
168 bacteria; remediation; industrial landscape
182 asbestos; UV rays
190 cancer; healing machine; placebo; radiation
200 e-waste; garbage; restorative environments
212 food; animals; disease
224 drugs; quarantine; epidemics
231 EMERGENCY URBANISM AND PREVENTIVE ARCHITECTURE
251 YOUR CITY YOURSELF
267 ARCHITECTURE AS INFRASTRUCTURE FOR INTERACTIVITY: THE NEED FOR DESIRE
292 social interaction; stair; walking
304 body; obesity; nutrition
318 age segregation; retirement
336 adaptation; longevity; garden
365 SUNBATHING IN SUBURBIA: HEALTH, FASHION, AND THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
384 sarcophagi; unlimited life
388 Index of names
394 dark skyes
Hardcover: 300 pages
Publisher: Lars Muller (February 27, 2012)