Of course, Chicago

Of the tower of Babel remains today, only a vague trace in the ground. It appeared in a few years, then slowly disappeared, under the effect of a double dispersion. Material first: the bricks have been reused over the centuries to build houses. Cultural then, by the myth and the image, the same bricks were disseminated by the vehicle of the religions of the book.

It is to this yardstick that it is advisable, perhaps, to consider the towers today. They question virtually no new technical problem. Their edification is done by an organization that does not present any more complications since it consists in associating a series of similar languages, all based on the binary system. The absence of God now reassures the sponsors and builders, the theater of the site is no longer the object of rites or fears. Accidents are recorded and must not exceed a quota previously set as acceptable.

Anyone, now, can build a tower. All that is required is a fitting, a combination of appropriate binary signs, according to which the financial flows, the planning, the respect of the standards, the orders of materials, the organization of the building site, the advertising communication and the commercialization. will align without surprise or accident.

While the urban form and the landscape were formerly the results of imperative conditions (war, the physical limits of the available energy), it is today the object of a design, a signature, the effects that we produce to distinguish ourselves.

The attack against the Twin Towers, from this point of view, appears to be a circumstance in keeping with the times. Their destruction, if it was wanted by terrorists, and therefore implicitly claimed, differs in fact from the disappearance of other contemporary towers only by its suddenness. The same destiny, scarcely more spread out temporally on the scale of the story, awaits all the turns. They will leave few traces. They will not disapear before our eyes.

Francesco Della Casa is an architect and architecture critic. He has published several essays on buildings (Learning Center EPFL) and the process of urban mutations (La Friche la Belle de Mai). He is currently Cantonal Architect in Geneva.

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