Such a good topic, and one that continues to emerge through time as history repeats itself. There’s an article, that is basically putting words in my mouth, at SFGate about determiming good architecture from well… ‘bad’ architecture. I usually don’t like to point out a piece of work and label it as anything at all, let alone label it as ‘bad’. But let’s not keep our mouth shut. I generally agree with the author of that post. In my humble opinion, less is always more and I don’t digest the new ‘baroque’ that well. But that’s just me, you can beg to differ.
/read the article at SFGate
What I have to say in my defense is that we all have an eye for beautiful things. We all want to feel comfortable in our homes, we enjoy walking about the aesthetically pleasing streets and we are touched by spaces in general. A building doesn’t have to scream out: look at me, look at ME! so that it catches our attention. But if that happens, and sadly I see an increasing number of buildings doing just that, I find it painfully hard to put them alongside any other architect whose work touched me. I think it’s good that we experiment with new shapes to possibly benefit from them.
You’re acting pretty safe if you only limit yourself to the ways of modernism. Modernism, in its beginnings, was groundbreaking as well but it had a heart, a real story to tell. Eliminating the unnecessary ornament, exposing the structure, ‘form follows function’… It was bound to happen – architecture had to throw off the kitch at some point and show its raw, beautiful figure. All with the intention not to rebel the existing structures, but to pioneer a new lifestyle nobody even knew they were missing on. What we have today is a similar thing happening but I ask myself – is it pioneering? In a way, yes. Architects like Zaha Hadid and Frank Gehry do experiment with materials when it comes to pushing the limits of their microstructure to shapes unseen before. Computer programs make it possible to design such structures, technology realizes them, which is fine. Sometimes buildings like that would prove to be difficult to maintain and would have technical problems, which, in the name of pioneering, can all be pushed aside. What interests me more is what they’re trying to tell us with the space they form. That they can do it? Because we already know they can. I hope the story behind their creations has the good intention of ‘trying to make people see that fixating yourself to a known pattern of living (= moving about your house) isn’t the best and you should explore further to find out what kind of space makes you complete’.
As far as co-creating the cultural environment goes, the Bilbao effect is starting to take place just about everywhere in the world. A shabby town gets an outrageous new landmark, people visit it and the town’s economy gets a boost. This is only an opinion of a student who’s opinion is bound to change anyway; I am all for revitalizing towns with new architecture, but it seems to me that what is happening way to often today is that we are creating Disney Worlds for adults and forgetting that particular pieces of land have particular characteristics, history and meaning behind them. Filling them with something flashy does not make it all better and the same question emerges every time I see a building that doesn’t convince me: ”Must it absolutely, without further addition or reduction, have to be like that?” I’m not moved by the the ”exquisitely machined metal bracket holding up nothing.” I think if some of those buildings were paintings, they could evoke some emotions inside of me because of their dynamics. But everything unnecessary in architecture makes me look at it, makes a question mark to appear above my head and says to me: oh go away little girl, you SO don’t get me. So I leave.
P.S: I don’t intent to bash all creations, I dig a lot of them. But somewhere along the way things can get out of the architect’s hands so that they end up designing something flashy only with the intention to make something flashy. Never mind the cultural background an all that.