Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
I second you. You make me try here to discuss again a pet idea of mine, which get always a rough rebuttal from my friend architects when I try to explain it to them...

I personally can't stand anymore these uninspired modern steel / glas buildings we see everywhere. I believe that the "modern" standard building is successful not because everybody like it , but mainly because its repetitive geometrical motives are much easier to design/ to build: no craftsmanship needed, only a "geometra" (as in the italian "casa da geometra"), some not so skilled labor, and very short lead times.
Proof is that some exceptions like the extremely complicated buildings like Guggenheim Museum of Frank Gehry are just that, exceptions: nobody can afford it, and few people can execute it.
Here come my pet idea: if you don't have stonecarvers anymore, use the computer people you have aplenty. I am convinced that some technologies of the mechanical engineering field I came across in my professional life could be scaled up for giving back to the architects the freedom of fine non repetitive details, curves and 3D characterisation of the facade, with reasonable extra-costs and the building skills and materials of today. But every time I try to explain how, my friends architects laugh at me: No way it happens!
I am said that if such a facade would cost say only 5% more than today Mondrian-but-please-without-the-expensive-colors alike fronts, nobody would pay for it. Such innovation is not needed, I can forget my ideas. No problem with the mirror walls everywhere in the city, everybody is happy, no need to change.
But we pay for riots or city-dwellers depressions...

La répartie est dans l'escalier. Elle revient de suite.

by lacordaire on Wed Jan 4th, 2006 at 05:03:35 PM EST
Yes, that is the sad part, that modern technology and materials could be applied to a better standard of building than we see around us, while still being affordable. But certain paradigms tend to stick. The box has stuck around for a long time now and has become almost synonymous with modern architecture, to such a degree that people have difficulty imagining anything else.

As you rightly say, I think partial salvation lies in computer rendering tools, which makes it easier to experiment with other styles at a low cost, and opens the door to more artistically minded architects.

That may be part of the problem that the unavoidable specialisation of professions and disciplines through the years has broken the ties that once bound architects to the craftsman/artist profession they were once a part of. Remember that the great architects of the Renaissance were also painters, sculptors and whatnot besides designing buildings.

Of course, in this case a remedial course in structural engineering might be in order for the architect too...

Bitsofnews.com Giving you the latest bits.

by Alexander G Rubio (alexander.rubio@gmail.com) on Wed Jan 4th, 2006 at 05:43:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So what do you think of the pretty original buildings in London, like the Lloyds headquarters (done I think by the same guy as Beaubourg in Paris, his name escapes me right now, with all the "entrails" on the outside) or the Gherkin, or a number of others?

And what do you think of La Grande Arche in Paris?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Jan 4th, 2006 at 05:53:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Loyds Building would be Richard Rogers if I remember correctly, who, as you said did the Beaubourg with Renzo Piano. Of the two, I must say I prefer the Loyds headquarters, as a building, but find it less well integrated with its surroundings than the Centre Pompidou. It's like something out of "Bladerunner" fell out of the sky and crushed an old bank while threatening to devour the neighbouring ones when it's done digesting.

As regards the arch, I'm conflicted. It does fit the surroundings though.

Bitsofnews.com Giving you the latest bits.

by Alexander G Rubio (alexander.rubio@gmail.com) on Wed Jan 4th, 2006 at 06:07:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That the inspired part... and the expensive one. The Arch was expensive for sure, and I don't know for the the Lloyd's, but I could have added The Gherkin, where every single piece must have the right curvature, no standards...
That is exactly what I intend with computer value added instead of computer value substracted.

La répartie est dans l'escalier. Elle revient de suite.
by lacordaire on Thu Jan 5th, 2006 at 04:20:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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