Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Gee whizz ! I'm off to rest a bit... And I come back here to find this diary that would take pages to answer properly!!!
So I'll do it short :-)
Of course, I don't agree with the general direction of it, while I do agree on the "results" !
I feel there are several facts mixed up in some of those popular beliefs ( not to hurt anyones feeling, but, I do hear that often :-) )!

Chapter one:
First point: Has modernism (as a movement) killed roofs ? (I would say no)...
Second point : Does modernism (as a movement) still exist ? (I would also answer no)...

Chapter two:
First point: Who, today, decides of a building (look, shape, form, program, usefulness, performance, etc...) ? Certainly not the Architect, but either a jury (mostly political people) for public buildings, or the banker (hello Jérôme :-) ) for the private ones...!
Second point : Building costs have been reduced to a sheer minima. Contractors have eaten economically each other and are reduced to a handful that makes the "law" (or you don't have your building done!).

Chapter three:
First point: CADs and other nifty devices just don't really help, as most users don't even "see" in space. It's more about having the best "library", ending, of course to the "famed" boxes !
Second point : At IMAGINA in Cannes, at the end of january there will be a debate with Peï and Piano on the importance of line in architecture (le "trait" in french, which was the ancestor of the descriptive), and of course what it has become in computers!

Chapter four:
First point:  In a time where each beam is controlled six times by various people, the knowledge of structural engineering is truly very low. Most engineering offices can't even calculate a shell (they don't do it at school anymore), as such structures doesn't go in the structural program that knows only about porticos !
Second point : Most people (architects and engineers) often get mixed up with scale ! Think of the cable of the Golden Gate bridge... When there is wind and load (trucks) you can see it wobble as a mere string. But if I give you three meters of the same cable, you could use it as a post ...

There are bad architects and bad architecture. I've fought against the glass/steel box design in countries that didn't even produce steel nor glass ! Each time such a design won the contest.. Because that's exactly what the client wanted.. A no-nonsense office building, showing wealth and swiss watch precision for a reasonable price!
Most want a Ferrari for the price of a Twingo, and they'll find someone to draw it (I don't say design!) and often don't even care if it will last long, or if will cost fortunes to tend.

There are exceptions, of course, but we are surrounded by buildings that carries no culture.
And that is only about buildings, now think a bit about urbanism, and who designs your future way of living in a city !!!
Sustainability, even if it is sometimes a trend, is a hope for many architects, as it allows for a better designing as for built materials.

About the skating ring catastrophe, I haven't seen the building before seeing the shambles on TV... I'm just surprised that the German rules on snow overload weren't applied. I think they were, and that the building had another structural failure (?) before giving in under the snow... I'll ask around !

Sigh.. And I thought I would "heat" a bit by lurking gently and lazily for the new year ! :-)

"What can I do, What can I write, Against the fall of Night". A.E. Housman

by margouillat (hemidactylus(dot)frenatus(at)wanadoo(dot)fr) on Wed Jan 4th, 2006 at 08:53:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's all? No defense of concrete?!?!?!? :-)

Incidentally, I first heard of this when I talked with my mother, who has a diploma as a structural engineer (tough never worked as one). She says even flat roofs have to be designed for local maximum snow in 100 years times 1.4, so she guesses this was either record snow or material failure.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Jan 5th, 2006 at 07:36:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Eh,eh.. Concrete is not so "modern", and Versailles has also glass windows :-) It's not the material but how we use it !

In Avoriaz (an "old/new" ski resort) there are parts with flat roofs but then, Labro & Orzoni designed a wooden flooring, 60cm over the flat roof to keep the snow of the roof.
When freezing, the snow doesn't damage the existing waterproofness, and when temperature is rising, it allows for slow melting...
In between it allows for a big air insulation... :-)

It's always a matter of thinking right and mostly about common sense !

Happy new year everybody :-)

"What can I do, What can I write, Against the fall of Night". A.E. Housman

by margouillat (hemidactylus(dot)frenatus(at)wanadoo(dot)fr) on Thu Jan 5th, 2006 at 10:33:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
May I ask what you think of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao and the National Gallery in Helsinki? Two of my favorites, but I won't take offense if you feel otherwise!

Happy new year back at you.

The world's northernmost desert wind.

by Sirocco (sirocco2005ATgmail.com) on Thu Jan 5th, 2006 at 10:39:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you mean the Kiasma by Steven Holl ???

While The Guggenheim in Bibao seems to be Gehry's ban (He is "stuck" with this style, as clients wants "the same"...), it is also a great building.
Not so because of it's outside looks, but mostly because of it's interior space and light that serves well the different expositions...

I like also his wooden ceiling ( that changes form in function of acoustics wanted) in the Disney music center...

But... I do wonder why he sticks to old techniques (I beams and such) when he could play with shells structures ?

Of course the ex American center in Paris was a failure... And is now rehabilitated in a center for cinema...
As that sort of free play with form needs always a perfect building technique and very good materials (expensive usually), as it doesn't support mediocrity or else, the building will get ruined in time !

I don't know well the Kiasma... But the building seems sounder :-)
I regret that it was not a Finnish architect that was chosen, as they usually have the "knack" to play with mixing natural materials on site with more contemporary ones... I must go there one of these days :-)

It's difficult for me to critique that sort of "free sculpture" architecture, as I feel it's searching form for form !
While it can be a success for some buildings generating their own site (as Bilbao), I feel it "ages" quite quickly as a "style". And my belief is that Architecture should not wan through time, even if it's functions changes...!

Peter Cook's Kuntshaus in Graz is a good example of dichotomy between the original idea and the construction technique (wether you like the "Ocarina" or not :-) ). It's a "Star war" form, built like a movie prop, making it very complicated in it's details...

The old saying goes as: To have a good architecture, you need a good client and a good architect... I would add: and also a good engineer that can discuss freely with the architect- before - the first drawings !
:-) :-) :-)

"What can I do, What can I write, Against the fall of Night". A.E. Housman

by margouillat (hemidactylus(dot)frenatus(at)wanadoo(dot)fr) on Thu Jan 5th, 2006 at 01:29:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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