ICARCH stands for International Competitions in Architecture.
It also hints, sufficiently well, towards Icarus, Daedalus’ son, who perished when he dangerously approached the Sun.
The name ICARCH has a few other meanings, but these are more obscure and we choose to leave them aside, for now.
ICARCH came into being from a deeply seated belief that architecture should be again intimately connected with broader cultural issues. It tries nothing else but to build bridges between diverse cultural fields, generally not connected with architecture.
More than this, it tries to “personalize” again architecture by re-connecting it with the “story of life” at a time when everything seems to point towards an increased abstractization and depersonalization, not to say alienation…! But how to “tell a story” through architecture is not very easy… perhaps a possible answer might derive from that intuition Gaston Bachelard had when he stated that a mollusk does not build a house to live in, but lives in order to build its house…!
There is an important difference here. If the “house” is not just another “product” to be quickly possessed and consumed by the voracious “consumer,” but the culmination of his / her existential journey, then the house becomes, essentially, the most accurate expression of his / her biography, all the better if that biography had / has a certain relevance. And if the “house” expresses intimately that biography, we can only expect it to be rich, and sufficiently individualized to be able to receive a proper name. Not the name of its architect, but the name of the “author” of that biography, whose expression, in built form, it actually is!
We are interested mainly in “houses.” but we use the word “house” in the most generic, almost archetypal way. At bottom, in architecture everything is a “house.” A school is “the house of learning,” a bank is “the house of money,” a church is “the house of god,” a library is “the house of books,” etc… It is this very primal meaning that interests us, be it “real,” or metaphorical.
To end: we can only say, together with Jean-Luc Godard, in his film “Notre Musique,” (Our Music) that even a more or less banal castle like Elsinore, in Denmark, could become a very special one, once we learn that it was Hamlet who lived there…!
This is because, all of a sudden, the “house” becomes illuminated by a significant biography, that is, by an “earned life,” that is, by a LIVED LIFE!