Modern architecture sucks

  • beaujangle

    Posts: 1725

    Oct 10, 2017 12:21 PM GMT
    Mmm, some interesting views

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    Oct 10, 2017 2:51 PM GMT
    The subtext here is that architecture should follow political views. My own view is that form should follow function, which the speaker disses, along with my preference for structures that are simple yet aesthetically pleasing. One thinks of traditional Japanese domestic architecture, about which I've presented lectures, but under the discipline of cultural anthropology.

    When I studied architecture in the 1960s I attended guest lectures, where these "futurists" argued for concentrating people in block buildings, to leave the countryside undeveloped. Yet those blocks were cold and sterile, like prisons.

    Supposedly the people could recreate in public parks (weather permitting one presumes), they didn't need their own lawns, or large interior spaces when “communal” areas were provided, nor could their homes express individuality. All had to look alike, for economy of structure and space saving.

    I've gotta go out in a few minutes, but more later. I wanna relate my other experiences as an architecture student. To introduce another very practical element in why today's architecture often looks so hideous, that this speaker does not mention. A search for "academic novelty" for novelty's sake, which affects other fields, as well. Plus competition for attention among practicing architects, the need to be different. That also can influence their clients.
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    Oct 10, 2017 4:20 PM GMT
    OK, back online. In school we had student competitions, often using full models of our architectural creations. I always thought it demonstrated more of your modeling skills than necessarily your design talents. Other times it was just 2-dimensional renderings, at which I had minimal skill. But we all knew some students illegally paid others to do the artwork in their names.

    One time the challenge was to build a group of wooded resort cabins. I thought the structures should blend in with Nature, in organic harmony that might please most guests, and use natural local materials. Not what the judges thought in 1967.

    The grand prize winner was this huge steel tower, like the parachute drop ride at Coney Island. Suspended from its 6 arms were long braided steel tubes, like nets. At each end was the living pod, suspended almost at ground level for entry, made of fiberglass in a modernistic spherical shape.

    I was like WTF??? What’s that doing in the woods? It belongs in an amusement park. Or maybe the Jetsons.

    And what happens when the wind blows? Do these pods break from their entry steps and swing all around? WHEE!!! And why spend money and effort on this huge tower, when the living pods were still at ground level? What’s the advantage of this design?

    But the judges loved the “innovative thinking” and “originality” and awarded the prize. I wonder if it was ever built. Somehow I don’t think investors would want the excessive expense for an ugly steel frame novelty in a forest (and how do you build it in the woods, without tearing up the surrounding terrain?), that might scare away more guests than attract the curious.

    But this is what shaped future architects in that era, and may still be doing. Plus when there’s a real-world competition for a project, the architects are looking to impress with the “WOW” factor in order to win the commission. And if it’s a corporate building, the business goal may be to have a structure that screams “identity” and uniqueness.

    The very building itself becomes a billboard advertisement. “Oh, look, that’s the XYZ building.”

    So there are also academic and business reasons for bizarre buildings, in addition to what this speaker suggests. Who mostly focuses on ideological causes. But I will agree with him that a great many of them are ugly. Not because that’s my politics, but I find them intrinsically grotesque, ridiculous, and low-functional.
  • argus

    Posts: 1051

    Oct 10, 2017 4:35 PM GMT
    What did you think of Habitat built for the Montreal world's fair in 1967? If you would have studied Habitat.

    1200px-Montreal_-_QC_-_Habitat67.jpg

    "

    A trailblazer and visionary
    The architect behind Habitat 67 was able to create a captivating work, which keeps on inspiring nearly 50 years after its construction. The building was originally conceived as part of Moshe Safdie’s McGill University thesis. Created as part of Expo 67, Habitat 67 is a reflexion on function and the role of architecture in a high-density urban environment.

    “Habitat 67 is the amazing accomplishment of Moshe Sadie’s youth. The principal quality of Moshe Safdie’s entire work is to confer to things a character of eternity. He puts emphasis on architecture’s daily life: the way spaces are used, the performance of the building in its climate, the real desires of future residents. In many ways, the essence of his work is a dichotomy: at the same time tearing and meditation between the universal and the specific, between the ideal and the real.’’
    – Wendy Kohn. Moshe Safdie, Acadamy Editions, 1996."
  • argus

    Posts: 1051

    Oct 10, 2017 4:37 PM GMT
    The top of every unit held greenspace for the unit above. It was beautiful. Interior spaces soared.
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    Oct 10, 2017 4:49 PM GMT
    To me the proof is in the interior living spaces, and the views. What I consider to be the daily livability factor. You say it was excellent. I actually do not know these interiors, but I recall seeing the exterior shots.

    But the word “habitat” immediately puts me on guard. Humans are not hamsters. Perhaps this was a more successful example of urban residential planning. But I am wary of being boxed and warehoused.

    And I must say the exterior aesthetics don’t immediately appeal to me. Looks like a kid playing with his wooden blocks, who doesn’t quite know what he’s building, just piling them up randomly. Not to mention that the dark beige concrete looks dull, dirty, unfinished, and depressing.
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    Oct 10, 2017 5:27 PM GMT
    argus saidWhat did you think of Habitat built for the Montreal world's fair in 1967? If you would have studied Habitat.

    1200px-Montreal_-_QC_-_Habitat67.jpg


    I really like these. I'm not a great fan of concrete as an external finish though. It tends to look very tired and drab as it weathers - and, of course, it was the material of choice for most postmodern architecture. Habitat 67 looks like it has probably had a good clean in recent years.
  • Destinharbor

    Posts: 4910

    Oct 10, 2017 5:43 PM GMT
    I prefer traditional architecture, Georgian, Palladian, Beaus Arts, Classical, but also have an interest in modern if done cleanly. Most architecture sucks and always has. What we see of the past is mainly the best that has been saved so it looks better than the mix of good and bad being done now. The worst period in my mind was the brutalist period coming out of the German schools in the early 20th century that simply paid no attention to the humans that had to habitat it. But Give me a clean box of good proportions with a simple grace, good light, and human scale and let me fill it with a mix of English/Irish antiques and comfy upholstered pieces and I think the contrast sets each other off well and adds energy.
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    Oct 10, 2017 9:27 PM GMT
    Destinharbor said
    I prefer traditional architecture, Georgian, Palladian, Beaus Arts, Classical, but also have an interest in modern if done cleanly. Most architecture sucks and always has. What we see of the past is mainly the best that has been saved so it looks better than the mix of good and bad being done now. The worst period in my mind was the brutalist period coming out of the German schools in the early 20th century that simply paid no attention to the humans that had to habitat it. But Give me a clean box of good proportions with a simple grace, good light, and human scale and let me fill it with a mix of English/Irish antiques and comfy upholstered pieces and I think the contrast sets each other off well and adds energy.

    Beautifully stated. And I happen to love Palladian. In addition to genuine Art Deco, which is often misidentified with lesser imitations.

    And I do like period style, if it's well executed. Georgian can be gorgeous. Although there are some people, my husband included, who want to throw in some ecclectic & anachronistic elements. I HATE that - purity & authenticity is what makes the whole work.

    In domestic architecture I do like the open floor plans we have today, that better match our modern living and entertaining style. Form following function. Older patterns seem cramped, claustrophobic and restrictive today, including your exquisite Georgian.

    Hell, in some period Georgian and American Colonial homes the kitchen might not even be in the same building as the main house. Or else you had a second "summer" kitchen out back. Your guests wouldn't meander into the kitchen, or sit at a counter with tall stools, that's for sure.

    A kitchen sweltering hot and full of out-of-sight sweating servants back then, with whom your guests avoided contact. No more likely you'd see guests there having drinks and socializing than in the stables. A subset of form follows function is that form follows culture.
  • Apparition

    Posts: 3890

    Oct 10, 2017 10:39 PM GMT
    art nouveau is the epitome of human construction.