The Goethe-Institut Manila organised a competition on the key topic of "Languages without Borders – Art and Multilingualism". It was intended to combine the supposedly incompatible media of architecture and language.
The exhibition "Neues Bauen International" in Manila, where post-modern architectural models and photographs relating to prominent architects of the 20th century were shown, inspired the Goethe-Institut to take up this project.
Students at the Alliance française, the Goethe-Institut and the Instituto Cervantes
The project "How do you live?" was intended to break down the boundaries between the medium of architecture and that of language. Linguistic utterances are mostly open to interpretation, whereas architecture sees itself as a clearly "readable" and comprehensible artistic movement.
The project was intended to motivate those taking part to combine both media by describing their dwelling complex/dwelling area in the target language.
"How do you live?" is a joint project of the Alliance francaise, the Goethe-Institut and the Instituto Cervantes. A co-operative venture in this context was also intended to help promote collaboration between the European cultural institutes in the Philippines in the field of language. Extension of this project to include the institutes mentioned served not only to promote a dialogue between the EU and the Philippines, however, but also to spotlight the aspect of multilingualism, which occupied pride of place in the project. Consideration will be given to translating all productions into Tagalog; this should be clear from the task as set.
"How do you live?" is an associative project in which the participants were to be afforded the opportunity to give their talents free rein. The participants were therefore free to use various supplementary media and formats, as well as to focus in different ways on architectural structures or descriptions of individual feelings.
A number of aspects which could be considered in the presentation were distributed in advance in the form of handouts. This was intended to provide guidelines for the development of an initial concept.
The intention was to examine to what extent language influences the description of apparently clearly definable structures. Do people who live in the same cultural group describe similar living conditions using similar linguistic resources? Or does the description depend less on the cultural group concerned than on the expressive possibilities offered by the foreign language learnt?
The accuracy which is essential in architecture because of the force of gravity, in other words the laws of nature, can be aspired to in language but never attained. Language simply cannot be surveyed in the way a house can.
That is what makes linking these two media so fascinating.