The important distinction I think to make is between building and landscape nowadays. A large portion of what architectural students work/study at in college nowadays is directly related to building - its structure and its fabric.
But in practice, out their in the real world, it is more like the whole package.... Libeskind, Nouvel, Tschumi, Ando, Moralles, and many, many more architects nowadays are cropping up in relation to books about just landscape design - either redefining/revisiting landscape design in cities or in the countryside, or suburbia. I.e. The way people intereact and feel most comfortable with various kinds of landscapes and places.
The young student of architecture, armed with a couple of lectures in waterproofing, structural beams and a class about the building regulations .... cannot even hope to even understand any modern architect from the right way.
This is where the confusion occurs, where the young student goes down to the college Library, picks up a book about Koolhaas and starts thinking about Koolhaas armed with the limited knowledge gleaned from a class in building construction.
One of the best ways to look at a Tadao Ando book is to visit a few places like St. Stephens green, or the Botanical gardens on your Saturday with nice weather, and just look at how people use these environments..... then relate what you have actually experienced
to the photos of the Ando building you see in the book. Be it a Museum in Japan, full of Japaness weekend-day-trippers, or whatever.
The problem arises when you spend you whole Saturday holed up inside armed with a Tadao Ando tomb and spend hours trying to interpret the text. But our Architectural colleges do not encourage people to 'get out' once in a while..... yet so much of 'an understanding' of architecture and space depends upon just that. I assume that is why more and more students nowadays have to resort to various kinds of bullshit.
I really do think that texts like Jellicoe are becoming really relevant all of a sudden again. Examples of 'landscape' scale architecture from the past such as the Irish su-terrains, the ha'penny bridge (Calatravas pumped something new back into bridge design and more have taken up that baton too), the Palladian Irish houses and their landscaped surrounds, canals, old rail lines becoming re-used as urban parks - these things are all becoming much more topical nowadays again.
For a while there, they just evaporated from the architectural scene..... but they are well back. In a way, Tschumi's park de la Vilette in the 1980s fore-saw all of this..... I guess La Vilette was a response to dealing with growing peripheral suburbs, and car-driven infrastructure. Dunno.
Bear in mind, when Le Corbusier photo-ed his beautiful 'object' buildings with a Citroen in front of them..... traffic still had not yet 'eroded' public space to the same degree as it has now.
But for me,
it is hard while studying a degree course in Architecture with lots and lots of 'building-centric' learning and study to do...... to perhaps make that 'jump' in terms of recognition of what the big contemporary practioners in architecture..... the Libeskinds of this world are doing today...... which is largely to make public open spaces, and sense of place an integral part of our environment again, after so many years of this being ignored by the profession.
In a way Stirling, Post-Modernism, Rossi, Bacon, Krier, Scarpa even and lots of other '1980s' type people like Tschumi are responsible for putting issues of open public space etc back on the map, in architectural practice. I think 'Charles Jencks' even did a nice park recently up in Edinburgh.
Even in Dublin you can see examples of that shift back to 'urban landscaping' in projects like the Liffey Board walk and the Wolf Tone Park. Just passed Wolf Tone park today and it was being used for 'low-rent' inner city selling stand kind of commerce.... a huge difference from a public space at the heart of Dublin which wasn't even used all through the 1980s/90s.
As I have said, this is a huge shift in terms of emphasis for the architectural profession, having largely ignored open public spaces for years and years - it is now re-discovering the existence of these issues once more.
It is just that architectural college is still too 'building-centric' and the practicioners like the Koolhaas, Libeskind etc, while having a very simple and straightforward job of going around the world and 're-instating' public space in cities today..... are largely mis-understood and mis-interpreted by both the student population out there and the lecturing staff.
Lecturing staff themselves simply have not got the vocabulary or familiarity with 'landscape' sized issues about space and its use by people..... to constructively answer a larger portion of the 'questions' which students are trying to ask.
Or if the lecturing staff DO
understand something about open public spatial design.... then they find it damned difficult to get across to a bunch of students.... believe me I have witnessed several attempts.... and the phrase 'that flew over my head' definitely springs to my mind.
A bit like parents and sex education with young kids maybe.... dunno.
It is hard for today's crop of young students to be informed enough in order to practice 'safe architecture'. Years ago it was simpler, you just didn't talk about those things.
LOL! And didn't ask too many questions about Po-Mo....
Brian O' Hanlon.