whos right?

whos right?

Postby what? » Tue Sep 30, 2003 4:59 pm

i was just thinking the other day,

when i went for my interview to get into architecture years ago, i brought along a photograph of a building that i liked. when it came to doing my thesis i found myself proposing to knock down a building and use its site (one of the justifications i gave for the use of the site was that the building was a filthy PO-MO blot on the cityscape). the thing is the two buildings i speak of are the same!

my question is, if we are supposed to build for the general public, why are architects favorite buildings often detested by the general public?
are architects right in what is good architecture because they are more educated in these matters, or a have they been perverted away from what people really want by this very education?

who is right architects or the public?

i have my own opinions on this matter but would like to see if anyone else has anything interesting to say.....
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Postby garethace » Tue Sep 30, 2003 5:35 pm

Long answer is. . .

I came to Architecture with a portfolio full of drawings and Art work, because the College said, I needed to be interested in those things, before becoming an Architect. However, the really strange thing about that is, I went from sketching and working in Art fluently before I became an Architectural student - to becoming all self-conscious, nervous and hating sketching and art (things I loved doing to begin with) as a result of doing Architecture.

I find a lot of contradictions in the idea of 'artistic' or visually aware people being asked for to go and do Architecture. Not least of all, as a result of my architectural training, I ended up hating something I had done completely naturally ever since I was 5-years old! It is worse than losing a child! It feels a lot like a part of you has been removed! Had I not got that interview to become an Architect, I would probably be a very happy, well-adjusted person who did Art as a hobby. I find it very dangerous the way that Architecture colleges like to flirt with the artistic community. Hoping to inject some uber-talent into their ranks, but it is more like some bull shit NAZI plot to create better Arians! The objectives of the artistic and architectural design community are very different.

Furthermore, having passed my third year Architecture in college, I was forced strongly to consider finishing that course, to obtain a degree, a career and standard of living. Imagine the opinions of people learning that someone had done that much of a course and had suddenly dropped out. In most college courses, having got that far one would expect with time and effort and persistence to work through the system, and emerge at the other end.

However, you seem to have come down on the correct side of the razor blade. The process you described, of knocking that building was a growing awareness of the environment, a growing awareness of society, the public spaces, the effects of buildings on the streets of our capital and eventually a generalist's perspective on urban design matters. Which is more important to the Architect, than the artistic sensitivity of the Post Modern period. I loved the PMPA building beside Wolf Tone park, back in the early nineties, because I thought it was classy, with those big red columns. It does have a lot in common with ideas running through the Installation Art of the same period.

Since artistic ability is about following ones heart and natural instincts to create something on a piece of paper, block of wood or piece of metal or stone, which embodies ones energy and creativity. Architectural drawings are not an expression of creativity and the human spirit. I can create masterpieces in paint or other mediums, for people to enjoy, but every instinct I had ever developed as an Artist was entirely wrong in the Architectural situation. I would regularly be told that design is on butter paper, it is disposable, crumple it up and throw it away! Noel Brady would argue that butter paper is just ideas, and ideas are cheap. You see, the conflict now between what an artist does on a canvas, and an Architect draws on paper? I find it very dangerous the way that Architecture colleges like to flirt with the artistic community.

The idea on the one hand, that Architectural college is supposed to instruct the student in matters of design and the built environment - to transfer some body of knowledge and understanding to that student. While on the other hand, they tell the students that they need to have the design or ideas come from their own creativity and hand. That is a blatant contradiction, and I do not wonder why so many conflicts happen in Architectural colleges.

Then the Architectural college ask students of architecture 'to read, study and learn about current trends in design'. Otherwise 'the students will be ignorant of designs happening around the world'. Yet students are expected to work at that, do it in isolation, and to receive absolutely no credit for doing that work. Hence, students do not bother, and never read an AR or El Croquis, unless they want to be 'part of that really dedicated gang'. I mean someone like Paul Clerkin would be chewed up and spat out in bubbles in our Architectural schools. (I can just hear the Architects now trying to put on their open-minded hats quickly now, and deny that, but it is true)

I like the account given by Reener, from Arnheim, about spending Fridays and Saturdays at a separated Institution intirely, where one can discuss and learn other things, and receive some recognition or credit for going through those things. Instead of some crackpot arsehole in a college asking you to read such and such article in the AR, about such and such building, and then you get no actual credit on paper, or otherwise for that effort. But the problem with students doing 'stuff outside the college' is simple - the college couldn't 'take responsibility' for what goes on in that external class, and it would just be treated like some pile of old rubbish.

I remember a group in my time, who started doing life-drawing classes on their year-out in Dublin. I thought it was cracked, and everyone went 'Oh, thats weird!' However, I would have loved if Bolton Street or UCD would run night courses in Urbanism and Theory for students on years out, or design web-based tuition in such areas. As those are the things I lack most of all. To make the actual transition you seem to have made What? I try my best to do what I can now, but there is no formal credit for it at all. I am sure that Clerkin and all of his buddies, would be interested too. The AAI is a good institution and I attended/learned from it for years. But there is no more credit than some lecturers in the college saying 'I saw you at the site visit'. Hence Students do not avail of that wonderful resources on our doorstep.

After all, I mean, I am using Paul Clerkin and other similar people as examples 'of the public', who want to educate and become more deeply aware of their surroundings. This encapsulates a lot more people than one might think, planners, social workers, engineers, artists... Irish Times Journalists. . :-)


Brian O' Hanlon.
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Postby sw101 » Tue Sep 30, 2003 6:57 pm

Originally posted by garethace
Long answer is. . .


wouldnt expect anything less brian. and only one thousand and eighty six words? you must be off form.
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Postby sw101 » Tue Sep 30, 2003 7:21 pm

after reading your lengthy treatise on not a lot, i feel the urge to reply. you're completely wrong about the attititudes of most students of architecture towards extra curricular activities. for most, hazily remembered post-crit rants in the pub on fridays are the most valuable learning experience one gets in the crazy world of architectural education. i myself am proud to say i dedicated much of m valuable evening, afternoon, and sometimes morning time to rambling through projects post-mortem, slurring and drooling my thoughts to what i'm sure was a rapt audience. couldn't see em you see, i was blind from self(un)loathing and praise for my work.

you appear to have mastered the art of doublethink brian. you say you find it dangerous that the arkitecty colleges flirt with the artistic community. yet you seem also to believe that buildings are works for the public use, visual enjoyment of, and general awareness of the public. if that doesnt constitute a work of art then i'm a tin of campbells soup. the main difference being our need to apply rules, regulations, order and pattern to our buildings. A human being stands 6 feet tall (or so) and weighs 10 stone (or so). they need light, air, bogroll, their eyes pleased, and a fire escape. the roving eye of a a person looking at an objet d'art has few constaints, and the imagination none at all.

i'm not sure how paul will feel about you suggesting his being chewed up by d.i.t staff as a matter of course, but i'll ask do you feel a little chewed up after all your time there? and has it given you any clarity? this is paramount in the work of an architect. a conscious act of madly dashing towards a set finishing line while keeping each house, cup and kitten in order is the practicable act of architecture.

i'm off to eat chips. keep it down to medium length rant if at all possible.




what?
sadly, i brought in a picture of the central bank to my interview. oh my blissful ignorance. to be 16 again. i think college is designed to knock any remaining stupidity out of you, and now i think the cube stinks
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Postby garethace » Tue Sep 30, 2003 7:47 pm

you say you find it dangerous that the arkitecty colleges flirt with the artistic community. yet you seem also to believe that buildings are works for the public use, visual enjoyment of, and general awareness of the public.


Well look at how buildings such as colleges work these days. At nightime, it is nice to view them as designed for all the many mature beings, who ramble in to receive advanced education. Yet during the daytime, they are more like large play pens for the naive, little young teens who grew up in bungalow. I think the pub is an extension of that play pen. I am sorry, but I managed to escape a while ago! No more rattlers and chewy things with rings for easy grip for me!

i'm not sure how paul will feel about you suggesting his being chewed up by d.i.t staff as a matter of course, but i'll ask do you feel a little chewed up after all your time there?


That was in reference to a conversation myself and Paul had about the AAI as an organisation, consisting primarily of Architects, for Architects. In contrast to his thinking behind Archiseek, which in spite of having links to Archeire, still does have a mandate to include, as oposed to excluding the general public. In fact, I would go so far as to say, like Duncan Stewart and Frank McDonald, the RIAI and associated online communities have a duty to make themselves as broadly acceptable as possible. In D.I.T. obviously you have the luxury of excluding most of the riff-raff, right at the door.

And my argument, albeit a strictly hypothetical one, is how much more the D.I.T. institutional role needs to be expaned in future for more people than just Arch Techs, and Arch Degree students. I mean, over my long years in Bolton Street, I have seen so many Arch Techs becoming Architects, but very few Paul Clerkins receiving any mention, recognition or opportunity to taste of real Architectural studies. Something like Reener described about Arnheim in Holland. Doesn't it strike you as strange that the Frank McDonalds are so 'outside' of the fold of Colleges, yet supply an awful amount of interviews on documentarys etc. I may not be worth a degree in Architecture, but perhaps given the lenght of these long posts alone, am worth some cert and a job with the Indo! Ha! If the College of Technology in Limerick can swallow up Mary Imaculate Teacher Training college to offer an Arts degree, I don't see why it should so hard for DIT to expand in new directions either.

People like Colin Rowe and Charles Jencks, Vincent Scully attracted many students to UCLA and colleges in America. Yet they are for all intents and purposes writers! Lastly, I think the relationship between UCD, the RIAI, the AAI and DIT is typically weird, unacceptable and awfully Irish. A bit like not having a combined Soccer Team reall. Lets not even get into the LIT thing about Technologists with Scottish qualifications shall we. . . .

I am just trying to encourage more open discussion of these things. BTW, I couldn't say all this without letting Louis Kahn have the last word now could I? Read any good book about Louis Kahn, and you will read his accounts of his beloved Philadelphia, and trecking around the city, as a poor young immigrant kid. Notice how the love with which he remembers that city, and what it gave to a young kid without much opportunity growing up. Sob! :-) Like the Elvis Song, another angry young kid is born in the ghetto....


Brian O' Hanlon.
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Postby garethace » Tue Sep 30, 2003 7:50 pm

And this:

and has it given you any clarity?


Has any architecture education establishment, given any young people any clarity at all? The description by Gehry of the student from Eisenmanns class in gridlock over the line and the wall, just had me rolling around the floor! I would love to see Mr. Bean do a show based around that! :-)

Repost:

With flashbacks to the Glenn Murcutt lecture in Bolton Street DIT last year, I read this very informative account of an evening lecture at Columbia University! :-)

The committee was reportedly deadlocked last spring, but the rumor mill was running free, mostly churning through the same three names--Lynn, Zaha, Libeskind; Zaha, Libeskind, Lynn--as if some privileged recitation of those five syllables might, like rubbing hands on the genie's bottle, summon an agent to deliver the school from uncertainty.

Taking pity, it would grant three wishes, one for each: a limitless supply of disposable logic for the idle generation of form (Lynn), a probe to uncloak the mysteries of taste (Zaha), and a path through geometry to the unspeakable name of God (Libeskind).


Come and sample the atmosphere, of the changing of the guard at Columbia University. Like some platonic shifting of subterranean earth masses, the tremors will be felt in Ireland I am sure.

Seems as if the winds of change in LA, are definetly changing towards, the Princes of Paper Architecture, finding ways to meet clients, overcome adversity and finally build something. Interview with a 58-year old, calmer Thom Mayne. There is after all a vast new market opening up these days in trendy culture capitals around the world for collecting Famous Architects As good design is seen as a symbol of prestige in many places, even in our very own Dublin city. Thom admits to having no less than 5 years of therapy in how to be nicer to his clients, and as a result now, has some building commissions going too, you can see on his web site. Any opinions people? Any old admirers out there? I think Thom Mayne is a tired old vet now, but he has had his ass in the grass, he is the real deal. In short he has seen the elephant and heard the owl. You are welcome to hear some more opinions about Progressive Architecture between an Irishman, an Aussie and an American here.

Brian O' Hanlon.
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Postby sw101 » Wed Oct 01, 2003 12:36 am

why repost? goddam it dont you lambast me enough with your witless foolery without the need to REpost ! oh ye gods you've driven me to exclamation marks. handbags at dawn ladies and gents. breakfast for two. elevenses for but one.
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Postby what? » Wed Oct 01, 2003 10:39 am

sorry garethace but i seem to have gotten lost midway through your post aswell !

put the handbags down for a minute though, we dont want this to degenerate into a bitch fight (or do we?) im not sure your first post is really addressing the point, rather it seems to be drifting into the territory of the AAI scribblings thread: whether artistic or intellectual thoughts have a place in architecture. as you know i would strongly argue that it does.
Architectural drawings are not an expression of creativity and the human spirit.

this is taking a completely technocratic view of architecture. if this is your stance why do you worship Kahn so much? he was a very spiritual architect. just because architects drawings are technical doesnt mean that they dont express anything.


The idea on the one hand, that Architectural college is supposed to instruct the student in matters of design and the built environment - to transfer some body of knowledge and understanding to that student. While on the other hand, they tell the students that they need to have the design or ideas come from their own creativity and hand. That is a blatant contradiction,


given that you have made some quite intelligent observations in other posts on this site i cannot believe that you would take such a simplistic, childlike view of an educational process. do you expect a college to either tell you exactly what to do and then you just reproduce it like a test? or would you rather they let you do anything and everything you like and give equal reward for it all like some hippie commune? lecturers are simply there to give you a base body of knowledge. it is up to the student to direct him/herself all the tutor can do then is to foster any emerging interest/talent.

anyway this is getting off my original point,
are we perverted by our education or do we know whats best for everyone else even though they often disagree?

any focused opinions on this matter?
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Postby d_d_dallas » Wed Oct 01, 2003 11:39 am

Zzzz...
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Postby what? » Wed Oct 01, 2003 11:47 am

have you a problem typing ddddallas?
you seem to type the same letter a lot. hyperactive wrist perhaps?

anyone with half a brain?
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Postby bluefoam » Wed Oct 01, 2003 11:57 am

;)
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Postby sw101 » Wed Oct 01, 2003 2:03 pm

i lost my shoe.......... dammit now i've lost the other one. looks like i'll have to saw off my feet
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Postby bluefoam » Wed Oct 01, 2003 3:18 pm

I have a spare pair of shoes if you want them, hardly even worn.
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Postby garethace » Wed Oct 01, 2003 3:51 pm

this is taking a completely technocratic view of architecture.


Maybe so, and don't knock hippie communes, what about Gramham Norton? :-) Irish export via US hippie commune....

This is what I stand by What? My position of these things is very clear. You might not like it, but it is simple.

Like it or lump it, it is clear and It explains exactly where I stand in relation to it all

I also believe that Architectural schools in general as a system are fundamental broken.

I will admit to being a bit of a Michael Ventris myself.

The significant point made here is that it is so hard to break into anything else, having started down the Architecture route in the first place. You have to basically throw away all that base of knowledge as you describe it, to do anything else.

This discussion here does remind me of a great forum about Interpretive centres years ago, in the AAI, where there was a whole lot of guys from Bord Failte, Planning departments, Historical societies, Archaeology etc, and that is what makes these kinds of debates good or bad.

This notion of us here at Archiseek self-analysing, discussing the things like a whole load of Bolton Street or UCD or Queens students, just brings all that stigma of Arch colleges too much to the fore. It is woefully unproductive. I think Rem Koolhaas would be proud to post on a thread like this in his typical anti-heroic Architectural position about the built environment. Which is very healthy I think, and Sinead Bourke's Intro to Tracings 2, attempts to emulate. Architects should learn to shut up once in a while and learn to listen. So I am now going to take my own advice. Thanx for your reply what? and all others for having bothered to read what I said. Discussion is good. This is my final lecture to you folks, so make the mosts of it.

James has said he received £600 in 1996, from some poor Gov official, for designing a masterplan for O'Connell Street. My question is simply this, would the Government be as fair with you on taxes etc? I mean, I have been working closely with some people discussing attitudes of the profession towards time and project management. Then perhaps, we wouldn't end up in so many tribunals later on, trying to recall something ten years ago.

I think you are basically going through that Cool Hand Luke 'Anti-Heroic' thing that seems to be so popular amongst Architects who read Tracings 2. As if they were the first people ever to discover the motorways around our cities. I guess we spend so long in college, talking bullshit over coffee and chips, we have to go through this 'motorway - pheripherique' thing having got out working. And trying to make ourselves look cool in the process is 'oh so crucial' to being a polo neck wearing tosser architect isn't it?

Enjoy, good luck and bye, bye.

Brian O' Hanlon.
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Postby what? » Thu Oct 02, 2003 11:11 am

now now calm down, someone didnt agree with you its not the end of the world.

i read your link on cyburia, jesus christ, if you hate architects and architecture so much why the fuck are you still at it? your mis-guided faith in pure goodness and cynicism about ambition confuse me. i think you would feel more at home in one of those ill-informed, hypocritical anti-globalisation marches.
i dont really want to start bitching but you seem to have serious pent up anger about your time in college. perhaps our education is doing more damage than i first thought....
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Postby garethace » Thu Oct 02, 2003 5:38 pm

Null
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Postby garethace » Thu Oct 02, 2003 5:40 pm

Those are indeed all perfectly fair statements What? Archiseek just allows me to prolong the torture treatment even further and isn't good for me. So I am just going to push away from the keyboard instead, pull the phoneline out of the wall, and get back to breathing fresh air once more. The trouble with writing What? is while it does allow one to fix problems, and things that are confusing about Architecture, environment etc. One does chase a lot of rabbits down a lot of rabbit holes.

And having to do that, means your day isn't strictly organised. As a writer on and off for quite some time now, (good at doing research, high levels of concentration and intellectual weight lifting capabilities, good listening and observational talents, and a laid back temperament suited to exploring culture, people and situations) I have found at 9pm in the evening sometimes, I might have some great new idea, and have to chase it like a prey.

That might take you until 4am in the morning to nail the sun of a bitch. I have read widely and wrote extensively, and carefully compiled analysis and investigation of Architecture, literature, poetry and Art on many levels. But in myself, you are coming face to face with the unacceptable side of the Architect and reader/writer/researcher. As real journalists say, news is information that someone, somewhere, doesn't want people to know about. You will crack a lot of heads, and take a lot of beatings yourself in the pursuit of real truths at the keyboard. And that doesn't make the best laid foundations for relationships with Architects in practice, colleges or elsewhere. So perhaps Paul Clerkin is correct, in disagreeing with Duany's advice that Architects must write about their own work.

So while I support in general your stance in the AAI Scribblings post. Beware, of the naiveity of your own advice. You will probably meet one or two real writers/journalists in Ireland in your life time. You might have already met one, just by talking to me here. But do, I urge you, strongly consider the eventual outcome of writing/reading taken to the extreme as in my case. And the next time, you decide to degrade a James or other poster because of their simple belief system, online on a forum, decide whether it is worth encouraging young practicioners of this noble profession, if they want to become great writers or not.

Do me a favour though, check out that movie with Sean Connery, and the young black kid from Harleem. Finding Forrester.

You're typing now dog! (Insert Scottish accent)


It is a good movie, which deals with creativity and self-expression, and a lot of the things you have asked here. And might provide you with a good springboard from which to base your argument in relation to education and Architecture. While also dealing with a couple of things about great writers as individuals too. I found the character played by Ben Kingsley in the film, that of the stuck-up tutor, is an all too familiar one for Architectural students. (Just substitute Architecture for poetry and you have got it in one, particularly the poetry competition scene. But in the real world, Sean Connery's character doesn't actually come in to save the day) Now there I go saying much, too much yet again. Anyhow, thats all - best wishes and thankyou again for your reply.

Brian O' Hanlon.
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