can Charles Jencks read plans?

can Charles Jencks read plans?

Postby gunter » Tue May 04, 2010 12:51 pm

We’re used to a high degree of consensus at AAI time, so I suppose we were never going to hear too many dissenting voices in an AAI judging panel that included Charles Jencks, the colossus of architectural criticism, even in this mood of jaunty detachment.

There’s no question that Jencks is a world class architectural phraseologist and for years he’s gone out with a butterfly net to capture and identify the various species of modern architecture, before naming them . . . . . and simultaneously putting a pin through many of their hearts.

That’s all fine and dandy and nobody’s saying that a big part of architectural criticism isn’t about judging the pictures and the ability to put a tidy phrase together, but a part of architectural criticism ought also to be about the actual internal planning of the schemes and the spaces that are created, and the compromises that are made, in order to achieve those compelling photographs.

I don’t see much evidence of that level of criticism in ‘New Irish Architecture 25 – AAI Awards 2010’.

Anyone got any strong views?
gunter
Old Master
 
Posts: 1922
Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2008 10:33 pm
Location: Dublin

Re: can Charles Jencks read plans?

Postby onq » Tue May 04, 2010 5:21 pm

You're not talking about that "fitness stair" in the ODOS rear extension are you?

Or the benefits of the internal planning in the Plastic House?

Or the almost incestuous 3Y interlocking thing?

What? Givvus a clew!

ONQ.
User avatar
onq
Old Master
 
Posts: 1220
Joined: Tue May 12, 2009 12:29 am
Location: Dublin, Ireland

Re: can Charles Jencks read plans?

Postby gunter » Tue May 04, 2010 5:26 pm

Onq,

You did look at the pictures [exclamation mark]
gunter
Old Master
 
Posts: 1922
Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2008 10:33 pm
Location: Dublin

Re: can Charles Jencks read plans?

Postby gunter » Wed May 05, 2010 1:43 am

onq wrote:What? Givvus a clew!
ONQ.


Start with the medal winner, 'Timberyard'.

We talked about this before, and most of my gripe with this scheme had to do with - what seemed to me to be - the abandonment of the 'street' principles that O'D+T led the way with in 'Making a Modern Street' and in the 'Temple Bar framework Plan' of the early '90s.

On this occasion they sold the line that the context was, to quote Jencks' paraphrase, ''a ruptured environment'' and the site resulted from: ''a wound caused by road engineering operations'' and subliminally you felt that somehow this created the conditions for the angular corner bastions and heavy brick form. That the context was a hostile environment was accepted from the outset and this interpretation was reinforced by the stock suburbanite contributions of the other judges. Jencks alone among the group sensed that the scheme was '' . . . a little bit forbidding . . . '' but these misgivings seemed to be quickly overcome.

Of course this is not a ruptured environment, it's just a new street in a old part of town . . . or it should be.

The other problem I have with this scheme taking top architectural honours is that there's nothing in the deliberations to suggest that anyone particularly looked at the plans, . . . . perhaps they were too busy being wowed by the pictures.

Personally, I like the architectural device of punch-card windows and the freedom to be clever that contemporary architecture gives us, but I don't like it when we compromise the quality of what we're building, in order to be smart about how it looks. That's an abuse of architectural licence.

Image

Image

Image

Image

These are copies of some of the images and plans presented. The pic above, and the floor plan above that, appear to be of the same space.

An immense amount of architectural intention has been invested in that corner block, but these are not good spaces IMO. Precious floor area has been taken out to achieve the cavernous opes on the principal elevations and the timber-clad boxed-out intrusions into the tight combined living/kitchen/dining spaces are the back of other peoples double-height voids. Dining tables are plonked against blank walls that could have opened to south facing views towards Newmarket and the Dublin Mountains beyond. Kitchens are slung along living room walls like a designer version of a Leeson Street bed-sit.

We widen the gap in the disconnect between architecture and ordinary people when we are uncritical of these matters.
gunter
Old Master
 
Posts: 1922
Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2008 10:33 pm
Location: Dublin

Re: can Charles Jencks read plans?

Postby reddy » Wed May 05, 2010 9:23 am

gunter wrote:We widen the gap in the disconnect between architecture and ordinary people when we are uncritical of these matters.


ARE WE SEEING too much “architects’ architecture”? This question was posed by the architect and influential critic, Charles Jencks, who has done more than most to validate postmodernism, in his reflections on this year’s crop of Architectural Association of Ireland awards, the 25th of the annual series.

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/features/2010/0427/1224269149039.html

In fairness Jencks was concerned about that in both the AAI awards and the World Architecture Festival - really good points about the photography and casting the net wider.

Must say I agree about the Timberyard though.
reddy
Member
 
Posts: 313
Joined: Wed Oct 26, 2005 11:03 am
Location: Dublin

Re: can Charles Jencks read plans?

Postby missarchi » Wed May 05, 2010 12:02 pm

I agree add furniture...
If it was my apartment I would be playing musical chairs with the walls...
I blame the fire regulations and ikea... (water pressure?)
Is the ikea of these balcony's not to get wet or space standards?
reminds me of that one a bit lower down on the road...
whats the floor? there is more timber on the walls than there is on the floors... shoes off hats off touch wood
The feature wall is not doing it for me.
Crash pot cooking
Add a timber floor from the timber yard and bob is your uncle ignore the fire lobby and tweak the balconies.
who isn't doing things under set hours these days...
birch plywood and laminated bench tops?

reduce the lobby by 1 metre and and 10 points for zoning
missarchi
Old Master
 
Posts: 1796
Joined: Sat Dec 08, 2007 7:53 pm

Re: can Charles Jencks read plans?

Postby Tayto » Wed May 05, 2010 12:23 pm

missarchi wrote:I agree add furniture...
If it was my apartment I would be playing musical chairs with the walls...
I blame the fire regulations and ikea... (water pressure?)
Is the ikea of these balcony's not to get wet or space standards?
reminds me of that one a bit lower down on the road...
whats the floor? there is more timber on the walls than there is on the floors... shoes off hats off touch wood
The feature wall is not doing it for me.
Crash pot cooking
Add a timber floor from the timber yard and bob is your uncle ignore the fire lobby and tweak the balconies.
who isn't doing things under set hours these days...
birch plywood and laminated bench tops?

reduce the lobby by 1 metre and and 10 points for zoning


Is that
(a) A critique, or
(b) A series of crossword puzzle clues?
Tayto
Member
 
Posts: 139
Joined: Sat Apr 04, 2009 7:00 pm

Re: can Charles Jencks read plans?

Postby wearnicehats » Wed May 05, 2010 1:15 pm

Tayto wrote:Is that
(a) A critique, or
(b) A series of crossword puzzle clues?


hahahahahaha - if it is it's a skeleton crossword, anyway
wearnicehats
Senior Member
 
Posts: 820
Joined: Wed Aug 02, 2006 2:38 pm

Re: can Charles Jencks read plans?

Postby onq » Wed May 05, 2010 2:10 pm

What a pup you are Gunter, to seek to undermine the holy Grail of O'Donnell Twomey's work - still, off we go.

This reminds of some of the Brutalist and Rationalist excesses of the past.
Never mind the fact that the repetitious nature of the latter and the concrete finish of the former are missing.
Some nice things are done on the macro scale with form and the brick seems to be an appropriate material for this location, but overall I find this a little oppressive.

The brick is unrelieved in itself, although the rear block is lighter.
The punched-hole opes without ornament, form or meaning [the bane of all modernist work].
The vertical mullions seem to suggest enclosure, prison bars, restriction, being trapped, perhaps a subconscious meaning, but its definitely there for me.
Its also one which springs to mind in DTA's Santry Demense scheme when you're standing in one of the windswept hallways leading to the upper apartments.

One concern is that in the rush to reinforce the fabric of the city the functions of some of the internal spaces are not as fully supported as they need to be in our climate.
Social demographics notwithstanding, the quality of the kitchen/living/dining seems poor in the unit under review.
I would prefer to see the balconies enclosed to allow them to be an inside/outside space in inclement weather, because in minus 6 with the kids trapped inside you'll go mental without a bigger living room - one for the little black sketch notebook, perhaps...

In terms of the way the building shapes and addresses the public domain, there is a huge jump from the courtyard to the building, with no mitigation of the scale between buildings and humans by intermediate features, structures or trees - just a sudden "jump", presumably for the effect of saying "Hey, this is an Urban Scheme!"

While the courtyards are definitely "Monitored", there is a difference between overlooking and overbearing. In modern cities, the trees get left out and lighting standards are left in, with their tell tale trainers/laces wrapped about their stalks to signify whether or not drugs are available there.

Here it seems as if the principles traversed by Corbusier when he was proposing point blocks as an extreme solution to our accommodation requirements have barely been taken on board. They were intended to be set in parkland, with the scale of the trees mediating the transition in scale from human being to multi-storey pillar of concrete, as well as "softening" the environment.

To set back the "lighter" masses, to present the unrelieved brick prow to the public domain makes a statement in terms of Urban Form, but as its done more softly and in a more nuanced way in so many European cities, using layering, a variety of colours and materials, even the occasional [shock] curved wall, that you have to ask was it all for that one effect?

More and more as I see the limited palette of materials and forms being used - the giant sloping elevation conceding at last that yes, sometimes the "less" of endless flat roofs IS a bore - I feel that there is something new coming just around the corner that will eclipse these worthy but still imperfect efforts.

ONQ>
User avatar
onq
Old Master
 
Posts: 1220
Joined: Tue May 12, 2009 12:29 am
Location: Dublin, Ireland

Re: can Charles Jencks read plans?

Postby what? » Wed May 05, 2010 2:50 pm

have any of you ever been to or inside this building? and if so have your ever been to or inside another city centre social housing scheme of a similar size or density in Dublin?

because from a lot of the comments above the answer to all seems negative.
what?
 
Posts: 427
Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2003 12:18 pm
Location: Dublin

Re: can Charles Jencks read plans?

Postby onq » Wed May 05, 2010 5:16 pm

what? wrote:have any of you ever been to or inside this building? and if so have your ever been to or inside another city centre social housing scheme of a similar size or density in Dublin?

because from a lot of the comments above the answer to all seems negative.


Is this a sort of cack-handed ad hominem attack?
Address the points raised or rebut them, please don't waffle meaningless questions at me based on unsupportable propositions
- "you can't just a building until you've visited it".

Utter tosh - you can OF COURSE judge the design of a building without visiting it.
I spent five years in a full time design course learning to do just that!
Plus we've all seen professionally photographed views of it.

But to answer your sole - albeit oblique - question direclty:
"Is there another city centre social housing scheme of a similar size or density in Dublin?"

Many of the referents are Council housing schemes, detailed in a traditional manner, with the scale of the elevations broken down by forms and openings redolent with meaning in the true sense of the word [alway sa red rag to a modernist] combining boundary definition, passivce monitoring and appropriate use of materials to mediate the scale and produce a welcoming protective environment for old and young alike.

Such schemes used to get attention, but the current crop of square-oped, vertical-grilled, slopey elevational brick wonderments are in the ascendant for now.

I have visited DTA's scheme in Santry Demesne.
Apart from the access from the main road, which could have been grander, and is at risk of becoming a muggers paradise because its so confined and not that well overlooked, the houses made a favourable impression both for what they did, and what they failed to do.

My only real concern was the draughty hallways leading to the upper apartments which was forced on them to keep within area limits I understand.
Perhaps that's one of the reasons for O'Donnell Twomey's add-on to the Kitchen/Lving/Dining?
There's a point you could rebut me on if you bothered addressing issues raised.

That having been said DTA's stairs is an example of what clever planning can achieve and makes you wonder what would be possible if it were enclosed.

ONQ.
User avatar
onq
Old Master
 
Posts: 1220
Joined: Tue May 12, 2009 12:29 am
Location: Dublin, Ireland

Re: can Charles Jencks read plans?

Postby gunter » Wed May 05, 2010 11:45 pm

what? wrote:have any of you ever been to or inside this building? and if so have your ever been to or inside another city centre social housing scheme of a similar size or density in Dublin?

because from a lot of the comments above the answer to all seems negative.


Not been inside Timberyard, but been in lots of Dublin's other social housing schemes. [the benefits of being a dodgy-furniture and bottle-gas delivery lad]

what?, I just think we need to be careful about our motivation whenever middle class architects decide how working class families should live, not because there's anything inherently wrong in that, but because we have form.

Image
a RIBA pic of an award winning social housing scheme in Deptford 1969

onq wrote:. . . I spent five years in a full time design course . . .
ONQ.

Ah, here we go again
:)
gunter
Old Master
 
Posts: 1922
Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2008 10:33 pm
Location: Dublin

Re: can Charles Jencks read plans?

Postby shadow » Thu May 06, 2010 12:16 am

Brilliant absolutely brilliant
shadow
Member
 
Posts: 313
Joined: Wed Mar 07, 2001 1:00 am

Re: can Charles Jencks read plans?

Postby missarchi » Thu May 06, 2010 4:06 am

what? wrote:have any of you ever been to or inside this building? and if so have your ever been to or inside another city centre social housing scheme of a similar size or density in Dublin?

because from a lot of the comments above the answer to all seems negative.


I would have liked to have seen it but have not had the chance.
Never could buy a house or apartment in dublin and if I did I would have lost my shirt.

architects renting for life and designing hundreds and thousands hundreds and thousands...
But no cake...
missarchi
Old Master
 
Posts: 1796
Joined: Sat Dec 08, 2007 7:53 pm

Re: can Charles Jencks read plans?

Postby missarchi » Thu May 06, 2010 5:10 am

missarchi
Old Master
 
Posts: 1796
Joined: Sat Dec 08, 2007 7:53 pm

Re: can Charles Jencks read plans?

Postby onq » Thu May 06, 2010 1:09 pm

Is this why they were looking for all the Archicad-trained architects in Brisbane?

Nice work if you can get it - lets stick one of them in Merrion Square.

Get Charles Jencks to write 20 pages about its cosmic nature.

Relate it to cloud computing, the wounded zeitgeist, etc.


ONQ.
User avatar
onq
Old Master
 
Posts: 1220
Joined: Tue May 12, 2009 12:29 am
Location: Dublin, Ireland

Re: can Charles Jencks read plans?

Postby gunter » Thu May 06, 2010 1:16 pm

Oh Onq, you have so many issues. You'd make any shrink earn his two hundred dollars an hour.

This other social housing [or 'mixed tenure'] scheme called 'Sliabh Bán', in a suburb of Galway, scooped a Special Mention for DTA Architects.

Haven't been in this one either.

Image Image

What do we think?

Farrell liked ''it's grain and . . . it's control of materials''. ''It's all very good'' she continued, bursting with enthusiasm. ''It is the case with social housing that with a certain amount of it you can actually make a streetscape''

O K

From Calvinist Switzerland, Deplazes saw more in it ''. . a new social housing typology, with no apology'', he rapped,

but Jencks was struggling: ''I like the idea in social housing of introducing one odd, new element, and the picture window here is the odd, new element. It might even work. Who knows? Why not try it? Is that the living room up there?''

Yes Jencksy, that's the living room up there . . . . as we can see from the plans :rolleyes:

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Onq, did you just edit half of that rant out?
gunter
Old Master
 
Posts: 1922
Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2008 10:33 pm
Location: Dublin

Re: can Charles Jencks read plans?

Postby onq » Thu May 06, 2010 2:36 pm

gunter wrote:Oh Onq, you have so many issues. You'd make any shrink earn his two hundred dollars an hour.
(snip)
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Onq, did you just edit half of that rant out?


Yes, its called dealing with your own issues Gunter.

Irish people do it all the time, many through drink - I seldom drink.
I vent, rant, edit - sometimes through several cycles until its finished.

As for the scheme from DTA architects, its fine, it strikes a new note, however with the windows its a bit of a one hit wonder.
The lack of "handing" normal in semi-D estates gives it a sense of endless repetition, broken only by the stepping of the terraces.
This institutionalised form - broken for relief and effect - is redolent of some of Aldo Rossi's work and the great rationalist expressions he created.

Again, the context of the public spaces seems to yield to cars without integrating them, the Manual for Streets and the Essex Design Guidelines being totally eschewed to achieve a design statement suitable for winning awards, definitely well-overlooked, but not perhaps for making humans feel too welcome.

I don't know what the current vogue for full height big wondows is, but they're a bitch when you're looking for an alternative escape in case of fire and they give me a sense of vertigo to stand near them - an I don't suffer from vertigo!
[At least, not now, not since I bought the costume and the batarang... but that's another issue for another another rooftop...]

BTW that Deptford scheme seems like more of the same rationalist design agenda I mentioned.
Modernism + repetition + square forms and hard materials.
Tough act to follow - harded still to live in.

BTW, the DTA scheme in Santry Demesne is excellent [part from the open stairs]

It had several grassed open spaces and kept the mature trees around which the scheme was finessed.

The landscape was softened, shared with cars, overlooked and the trees halped bridge the scale simply and elegantly.

Amazing sense of light and amenity in the upper courtyards - would have been better had so many not been north facing, but that the site too.

ONQ.
User avatar
onq
Old Master
 
Posts: 1220
Joined: Tue May 12, 2009 12:29 am
Location: Dublin, Ireland

Re: can Charles Jencks read plans?

Postby gunter » Fri May 07, 2010 12:15 am

onq wrote:As for the scheme from DTA architects, its fine, it strikes a new note, however with the windows its a bit of a one hit wonder.

ONQ.


That is true perhaps, but you could say the same about your average, smaller scale, Georgian terrace too. Part of the reason that the Galway scheme is impressive is that it's so modest and yet simultaneously so architectural. Every element of this scheme is completely conventional, even the big picture windows that grab the attention have been done time and again, but they've still managed to put together a housing scheme that looks crisp and contemporary and, I imagine, not an unpleasant place to live.

That's a lot like the way that building traditions used to work, with people being satisfied just with making slight refinements to long-standing and proven-to-be satisfactory design solutions, instead of trying to break the mould and reinvent the wheel every time.

They haven't illustrated it particularly well, but the one clever thing in the design is the use of the rising ground to create a step in the floor plan of the three storey terraces, giving the living area first floor status on the front elevation while maintaining a ground level relationship to the garden at the rear.

Image Image
Personally, I think the proportions of the feature windows could use a bit more work and I don't get the idea of locating the glazed corner where it directly over-looks the the guy next door, rather than it's own entrance, especially since the only opening section is also here facing into next door, but maybe there's some reason that the floor plans couldn't be simply flipped, if this was the optimum orientation for the front corner windows.

Image Image

Apart from that, this is a decent scheme [including a tasty design of corner house], but unfortunately they don't tell us whether this was a conscious architectural direction they wanted to go down, or whether it's just a case this was the only way they could get planning permission.
gunter
Old Master
 
Posts: 1922
Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2008 10:33 pm
Location: Dublin

Re: can Charles Jencks read plans?

Postby shadow » Fri May 07, 2010 12:50 pm

The front elevation of the dta scheme is quite rightly defined as unapologetic. The "blank" front elevation does not even offer the stairs the possibility of a window (light and ventilation) or maybe this is what makes it social, you only have so much money so why not spend it on the gigantic "picture window" and save it by not including others. But then why bother with the difficulty of providing windows, that just messes up the composition. So when you want to avoid the windows you make big dark recesses in the elevation as with the Timberyard.

Maybe if we could agree the terms of critique rather than shifting between technical, conceptual, artistic, graphic and commercial terms we might find an architecture that does indeed tick all the boxes..... (sorry maybe I shouldn't have used "boxes" bound to be reinterpreted as meaning something else...)
shadow
Member
 
Posts: 313
Joined: Wed Mar 07, 2001 1:00 am

Re: can Charles Jencks read plans?

Postby onq » Fri May 07, 2010 3:54 pm

Boxes it is, and the point of architecture is that for it to be competent is must satisfy ALL the boxes.

This is the bitch for the design critic, who sees the world through that sliver of the discipline.

While "design" covers everything, "everything" is seldom assessed in terms of design.

"Fit for purpose" might be a better term and yes, Gunter the section tells the tale..

Its on Page 174 (small) and Page 176 (larger) of the book- AAI Awards 2010.

IIRC its €25 from the AAI representative (no not me, I'm just a Member)

http://www.architecturalassociation.ie/


ONQ.
User avatar
onq
Old Master
 
Posts: 1220
Joined: Tue May 12, 2009 12:29 am
Location: Dublin, Ireland

Re: can Charles Jencks read plans?

Postby gunter » Tue May 11, 2010 11:27 pm

shadow wrote:The front elevation of the dta scheme is quite rightly defined as unapologetic. The "blank" front elevation does not even offer the stairs the possibility of a window (light and ventilation) or maybe this is what makes it social, you only have so much money so why not spend it on the gigantic "picture window" and save it by not including others. But then why bother with the difficulty of providing windows, that just messes up the composition.


I think shadow makes a good point, it's not a good thing if architectural awards pick out schemes so obviously on the basis of their imagery, when it appears that their imagery has, in some cases, been consciously composed with an eye to a cool graphic at the expense of some basic standards of internal planning.

On that front, I think I would rate Timberyard a bigger offender than Sliabh Bán.

onq wrote:While "design" covers everything, "everything" is seldom assessed in terms of design.

"Fit for purpose" might be a better term . . .
ONQ.


We don't need to go down the road of 'The National Insulation Awards' as I think wearnicehats once chided a discussion like this, but you'd expect there to be some examination along the lines of 'fit for purpose' and some attempt to analyse the plans instead of always just lapping up the images.

This is another of the AAI Special Mentions:

Image Image

'Plastic House' by - Architecture Republic

Fair play to Yvonne Farrell, while Jencksy was being bamboozled by the Corbusian chairs, she had this one nailed from the other side of the room.

''I just wonder - for the person who lives in the house - is every move set up in this rhythm? are you always on the route, or is there ever the sense of being off the route? . . . Is a space for only one chair enough? . . . It is like one of those metal puzzles where you're not allowed touch the edges or it sets a buzzer off''

You're tempted to ask if they've stopped teaching spacial planning in the architecture schools.

Image

This was an inoffensive little artisan dwelling with a clever split-level plan before some tiger pup got his hands on it. Now, many skip-loads later, you enter down a half flight of steps into a sunken pokey kitchen/dining area and then climb again a full flight to a bizarre sheep-pen sleeping area, where the only enclosure is offered by a walk-in shower [with a built-in trough] hanging off the back wall. I can count at least six apparent breaches of the building regulations, just from the pictures, and the only toilet in the house is so small it's door has to open outwards . . . into the open plan living space :rolleyes:

Smooth.

Still, bags an AAI 'Special Mention', not a bad return.

Last word to Jencksy: ''High-minded-kitch''
gunter
Old Master
 
Posts: 1922
Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2008 10:33 pm
Location: Dublin

Re: can Charles Jencks read plans?

Postby onq » Wed May 12, 2010 9:21 am

Yup.

That's the one I was thinking about.

(tongue in cheek)

In terms of modern design though, you have to give it credit for reflecting the Tiger lifestyle.

No time to sit and eat, shortest routes between two points, never settling down, smallest concessions to necessary utilities, apparent disregard of regulations, lot of work done for a "wow" effect that actually reduces usability for "normal" people, crash in the single chair after the usual 27-hour day spent working partying and head-shopping, impossible to sell afterwards.

I think it has the Celtic Tiger Era pretty much nailed.

Surely you can bend a few regulations for the sake of art?

(/tongue in cheek)

ONQ.
User avatar
onq
Old Master
 
Posts: 1220
Joined: Tue May 12, 2009 12:29 am
Location: Dublin, Ireland

Re: can Charles Jencks read plans?

Postby missarchi » Wed May 12, 2010 3:05 pm

It's a project of the ubiquitous modernism style.
I don't mind apparent disregard of regulations for people who cannot afford houses or circulation space.

the real deal (or theater obsession syndrome)...

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jaimienicole/3903140999/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/riviera2005/3583058989/sizes/o/
missarchi
Old Master
 
Posts: 1796
Joined: Sat Dec 08, 2007 7:53 pm

Re: can Charles Jencks read plans?

Postby gunter » Mon May 24, 2010 1:58 pm

onq wrote:. . . the book- AAI Awards 2010.

IIRC its €25 from the AAI representative (no not me, I'm just a Member)

http://www.architecturalassociation.ie/

ONQ.


Have they only sold three of these books or what?

Jencksy is a world authority on architecture ye know, he's not some smuck from Fife.

One of the AAI schemes that Jencks clearly loved [it scooped a 'Special Award'] and which completely escaped criticism again by the new guy in the Sunday Times yesterday, is Niall McLaughlin’s Alzheimer’s Centre in Blackrock.

The AAI jury’s early discussions centred on one of the schemes graphic representations, an ‘up-axonometric’, and whether it’s Egyptian parallels are 'Hassan-esque' or not, . . . . yeh, we’ll skip that bit, we’re never going to need that information again.

The jury did discuss the plan this time, the plan being a particularly simple one to read, and there was much mutterings about it’s derivation from the Schindler/Chase House of 1922, which the architects alluded to themselves in their explanation of the project. The Schindler/Chase house, as the Sunday Times reminds us is ‘considered the Big Bang moment of modernist architecture’.

Well, certainly the Schindler/Chase House, together with it’s slicker twin, the Barcelona Pavilion by Mies, is the progenitor of a thousand second-year projects in architecture schools across the world every year, due no doubt to it’s liberating rejection of expression stifling 'rooms' in favour of the creation of a fluid space lightly corralled by disconnected sections of straight wall.

However, unlike the open-plan Schindle/Chase house, which Jencks confided he actually once lived in, and which was designed to house two [disturbingly intermingled] families [hence Schindler/Chase] in presumably proto-Hippy California, and the Barcelona pavilion which was an exhibition piece, or a conceptualized summer house at best, the Alzheimer Centre is very much a collection of rooms and corridors and not particularly inspired ones from the looks of it.

Perhaps a less evocative, but more proximate, parallel for the Alzheimer Centre floor plan might be the Arts Block in UCD :rolleyes:

ImageImage

Where there is an element of ‘open plan’ in the Alzheimer’s Centre there is an argument that spaces feels a bit like transit areas with style but without much comfort or enclosure, like a cruel parody of an airport lounge for people who aren’t going anywhere. It’s not even immediately clear from the plans and pictures how the indoor/outdoor thing is supposed to work in practice, some of the full length glazing appears not to open, and even where the vast areas of lounge glazing do open onto accessible terraces, it’s not California, or Catalonia, out there.

Anyway, Jencksy loved it and that’s all that matters. It’s similarity in function to the Maggie’s Centres, to which Jencks is intimated connected, was clearly foremost in his mind, as noted in the first paragraph of his assessors’ report.

Image

Image

. . . . I dunno, I thought the whole idea of the Maggie’s Centres was that they were supposed to not look like mortuary chapels :confused:
gunter
Old Master
 
Posts: 1922
Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2008 10:33 pm
Location: Dublin

Next

Return to Ireland