Sunday, 23 October 2011

Architecture: Political, risky and unexpected? No, thank you!

Young-mi just sent me this link of Daniel Libeskind talking about architecture, which I liked about half of, but I'm glad he's not building my house.

He claims that architecture should be radical, political, unexpected, risky...

"Architecture is that complete ecstasy that the future can be better."

This may be true, but looking at modern architecture, at the risk of sounding like a reactionary or a royalist, a lot of it seems like it is political and unexpected, but that is all.

Political without an agenda, just politics.

Unexpected. Not unexpectedly good, unexpectedly useful, unexpectedly spacious. Just unexpected.

Risky without a large potential gain, just a big risk.

So no doubt there are architects with agendas producing functional buildings, but most people want houses that will house them comfortably, and work-places that work. If architects keep their heads in the clouds then perhaps they should not be allowed to build buildings that people will actually use. 

Fair enough if you're building something like the Berlin Jewish Museum, designed to create a sense of unease and disorientation, and make people aware of horror. Not very helpful in most other buildings in the world.

At the moment, most buildings are nowhere near ideal for their inhabitants. We don't complain because we know no better. Humans are incredibly adept at adapting to their environments, and given a little time, we can make ourselves happy in any structure of any size, shape or material.

What we need to design them is experts in ergonomics, the study of movement of the human body. Buildings should fit people. We need experts in thermodynamics, because in most cases people don't want to live in the elements and we need buildings to protect them. We need experts in housework, so that our homes are easy to clean and maintain. 

But what do I know about architecture?

What does my architect know about architecture?

Lotte sent me a message about "Against architecture" (original title "Contro l'architettura") by Franca LaCecla which has been published in Japanese.
Details on the English version here:

Another one for my reading list! Not sure which language to read it in. My Japanese reading ability is limited, but I think I might already know a lot of the vocabulary in this book. And if I don't, I will want to.