Architecture (in words)

Re: Architecture (in words)

Postby PTB » Thu Jan 29, 2009 2:45 pm

Did anyone read Dermot Boyds lambastation of Calatrava in the most recent AAI magazine?

http://architecturalassociation.ie/pdf/BM18_forWeb.pdf

Now if only he could apply his words to pretencious irish architectural journalism.
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Re: Architecture (in words)

Postby henno » Thu Jan 29, 2009 5:17 pm

PTB wrote:Did anyone read Dermot Boyds lambastation of Calatrava in the most recent AAI magazine?

http://architecturalassociation.ie/pdf/BM18_forWeb.pdf

Now if only he could apply his words to pretencious irish architectural journalism.


thanks PTB.... great read...


i love this line...
"The budget for the project is $2.4 billion dollars and it is financed by the Anglo Irish Bank. This is no mean achievement for Garrett Kelleher and he should be congratulated as an Irish developer and businessman."

:)
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Re: Architecture (in words)

Postby ctesiphon » Thu Jan 29, 2009 6:23 pm

...whilst I was particularly taken with the following comments: "In his introduction, Liam Nesson declared that Santiago Calatrava, the architect of the Chicago Spire, was a ‘true master of his craft’ and ‘a modern day Leonardo da Vinci of architecture’. I do not agree with him nor unfortunately did I believe him for Mr. Neeson is an actor not an architectural critic."

So, we've established that actors are not qualified to comment on architects' skills (though the matter of whether they're entitled to express an opinion remains unresolved at the time of writing).

However: "Our comperes were Liam Neeson and Natasha Richardson. Both are accomplished Hollywood stars, and they put on a good performance..."

What's this? An architect thinking he's qualified to comment on actors' skills? Who does Mr Boyd think he is? Michael Scott?*

As for doubting their sincerity, I wonder what he expected? Fancy champagne, canapés, films, fireworks, music... and prosaic descriptions of mech & elec specs? As revelations go, he's hardly Unmasking The Batman now, is he**? "Hold the front page!! Fancy apartment scheme has a marketing budget!!"

To be fair, when he gets into the content proper, he has some interesting thoughts, but the over-reliance on sarcasm and the superiority of tone only serves to weaken his argument and obscure the worthy content.

Oh, and the plural of 'storey' is 'storeys'. G-zus H.

*This question is possibly answered in his conclusion, where it is suggested that "...architects are to become actors..." under the new paradigm. So that's the necessary qualification, one can assume.

**I'm using superscript for footnotes, fyi, taking my lead from you-know-who. I hear it gives a veneer of sophistication. Anyway, was my cultural reference sufficiently obscure here? 'I'm Gonna Unmask The Batman' was a tune by Chicago bluesman Lacy Gibson. See what I did there? Cute, eh?
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Re: Architecture (in words)

Postby missarchi » Mon Feb 02, 2009 10:12 am

gold medal winner from the south pole
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Re: Architecture (in words)

Postby gunter » Mon Feb 02, 2009 2:01 pm

Image

It's all getting very apocalyptic out there.

There's another call for patriotic action, mixed with a bit of circling of the wagons, in the President's Column this month.

[INDENT]''This is also a time like no other when your institute needs you and you need your institute.''

''There has never been a time in recent history when the insights of architects and allied professions, were required to guide society to a better place.''

This is a time when we need your engagement in the formulation of a vision for a new Ireland, by participating in 'charette' workshops in your nearest School of Architecture.''
[/INDENT]

In the old days, this would have been 'Claret' workshops!

Histrionics aside, this is a very welcome call to arms and it can always be followed, later on, with advise for the last one out the door to turn off the low-energy light, if it doesn't work.

Here's the full piece:

Image
sorry if I've made the print a bit small.
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Re: Architecture (in words)

Postby ctesiphon » Mon Feb 02, 2009 4:13 pm

gunter wrote:"This is a time when we need your engagement in the formulation of a vision for a new Ireland, by participating in 'charette' workshops in your nearest School of Architecture.''

In the old days, this would have been 'Claret' workshops!


Hey- at least he's still using the French, right? He could have just called it - perish the thought - a workshop!

Also, read this sentence carefully:

gunter wrote:''There has never been a time in recent history when the insights of architects and allied professions, were required to guide society to a better place.''


In other words: in recent history, architects etc. were an unnecessary indulgence. And that's when times were relatively good! Hardly an inspiring message from your great leader.
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Re: Architecture (in words)

Postby gunter » Tue Apr 21, 2009 2:04 pm

ctesiphon wrote:Hey- at least he's still using the French, right? He could have just called it - perish the thought - a workshop!


From the current (March/April) RIAI Journal:

'I urge you to participate in a series of 'Charettes' . . . . these will be hosted by the Schools/Departments of Architecture throughout the country and will take place before May and in September'.

French you say! not the French for charades, I hope?

From the same issue, here's a piece of architecture speak to illuminate the darkness:

'Niall McLaughlin Architects . . . (of the proposed Centre of Contemporary Irish Culture, in Kenmare) . . . . say: ''We have designed the building by discovering a founding narrative for the site and showing how the deeper geological order has allowed a local culture to emerge and how this has, in turn, shaped the wider natural landscape''.

. . . any ideas?
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Re: Architecture (in words)

Postby Paul Clerkin » Tue Apr 21, 2009 2:09 pm

This is my recent favourite

"The house is an exploration of diagonal space within an orthogonal form and the possibilities of integrating environmental concerns at a fundamental level," says Diarmaid Brophy of FLK

Translation - Its a retangular house with big windows ;)
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Re: Architecture (in words)

Postby ctesiphon » Tue Apr 21, 2009 4:14 pm

gunter wrote:From the current (March/April) RIAI Journal:
From the same issue, here's a piece of architecture speak to illuminate the darkness:

'Niall McLaughlin Architects . . . (of the proposed Centre of Contemporary Irish Culture, in Kenmare) . . . . say: ''We have designed the building by discovering a founding narrative for the site and showing how the deeper geological order has allowed a local culture to emerge and how this has, in turn, shaped the wider natural landscape''.

. . . any ideas?


I could have a guess...

Is it the noughties (i.e. touchy feely organic) equivalent of the programmatic aspect of Functionalism?

I'm reminded of two quotes:

Robert Maxwell - The Two-way Stretch wrote:Smart thinking, not fine feeling, was the source of the New. Architects could appeal to an empirical reality as something which required a particular outcome, and that outcome was beyond question.


http://www.archiseek.com/content/showpost.php?p=45276&postcount=5

Alexander Pope - An Essay on Criticism wrote:Those RULES of old discover'd, not devis'd,
Are Nature still, but Nature Methodiz'd]http://poetry.eserver.org/essay-on-criticism.html[/url]


Nebulous, enigmatic quotes divorced from context? Where do I apply to be President? ;)
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Re: Architecture (in words)

Postby what? » Tue Apr 21, 2009 4:35 pm

gunter wrote:'Niall McLaughlin Architects . . . (of the proposed Centre of Contemporary Irish Culture, in Kenmare) . . . . say: ''We have designed the building by discovering a founding narrative for the site and showing how the deeper geological order has allowed a local culture to emerge and how this has, in turn, shaped the wider natural landscape''.

. . . any ideas?


What he means is that they have investigated the site’s cultural, historical and geological make-up and found that the physical attributes of the site have affected the development of the local culture and that this local culture has in turn had an affect on the same landscape, this discovery is then used as a narrative framework in which to make design decisions.

The house is an exploration of diagonal space within an orthogonal form and the possibilities of integrating environmental concerns at a fundamental level," says Diarmaid Brophy of FLK

Translation - Its a retangular house with big windows


Although very much not the fan of FKL I am less a fan of people who feel we should retard ourselves for the sake of ‘clarity’ and the pleasing numbness that the lowest common denominator mistake for understanding
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Re: Architecture (in words)

Postby gunter » Tue Apr 21, 2009 5:27 pm

what? wrote:What he means is that they have investigated the site’s cultural, historical and geological make-up and found that the physical attributes of the site have affected the development of the local culture and that this local culture has in turn had an affect on the same landscape, this discovery is then used as a narrative framework in which to make design decisions.



. . . and then they went off and designed the same aggrandizing sub-Bilbao arthouse shape-case that they would have designed anyway if the site had been a surface carpark in Blanchardstown?

what? wrote:Although very much not the fan of FKL I am less a fan of people who feel we should retard ourselves for the sake of ‘clarity’ and the pleasing numbness that the lowest common denominator mistake for understanding


Perhaps some of us have more to be modest about than others, but attempting to elevate the mystique of a particular creation, which may have little more to it than it's own 'pleasing numbness', only increases the disconnect between architecture and the users of architecture and I don't see how that can be a good thing.

If architects claim to be among the leaders of society, learning how to communicate ideas without always dipping into outandish jargon and unnecessary French words would be a good place to start, in my opinion.
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Re: Architecture (in words)

Postby what? » Tue Apr 21, 2009 5:58 pm

[quote="gunter"]

Perhaps some of us have more to be modest about than others, but attempting to elevate the mystique of a particular creation, which may have little more to it than it's own 'pleasing numbness', only increases the disconnect between architecture and the users of architecture and I don't see how that can be a good thing.

QUOTE]


So rather we should attempt to placate the mass ignorance towards architecture that pervades the public of this country with things they find readily understandable and desirable? - i.e. a pre-fab school, a stone-effect neo colonial mansion, a commercial architectural practice using the language of corporate America to communicate the ethos of a hood-winked Cultural Institution.

The fundamental point is that people are so ignorant of the possibilities and scope of architecture that to give them what they want or understand is to retard architecture and a crime against culture. Give them something that will challenge them and slowly we may see progress.
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Re: Architecture (in words)

Postby Paul Clerkin » Tue Apr 21, 2009 6:05 pm

what? wrote:So rather we should attempt to placate the mass ignorance towards architecture that pervades the public of this country with things they find readily understandable and desirable? - i.e. a pre-fab school, a stone-effect neo colonial mansion, a commercial architectural practice using the language of corporate America to communicate the ethos of a hood-winked Cultural Institution.



Frankly you're twisting the argument - it's not about the architecture, it's about how you talk about it

Dressing up building in architecture-speak does no-one favours - neither the architects or the public - but it alienates the public from even trying to understand, and it quickly becomes "i don't like it".
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Re: Architecture (in words)

Postby gunter » Tue Apr 21, 2009 6:49 pm

Paul Clerkin wrote: - it's not about the architecture, it's about how you talk about it

Dressing up building in architecture-speak does no-one favours - neither the architects or the public - but it alienates the public from even trying to understand, and it quickly becomes "i don't like it".


That's exactly what I would have said if I'd thought it through.

I shouldn't have been disparaging about the Kenmare building, it was the cringe-inducing geo-cultural design justification, rather than the actual building, that was raising my hackles and threathening to make me slip into ''I don't like it'' mode.
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Re: Architecture (in words)

Postby Paul Clerkin » Tue Apr 21, 2009 7:02 pm

This is a particular bee in my bonnet - architects's interaction with the public. Years ago before Archiseek, I used to go to AAI lectures and was basically made feel unwelcome - even though their mission statement was to encourage the public - so I started here. Of course then I was welcome.
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Re: Architecture (in words)

Postby treviesweets » Tue Apr 21, 2009 7:52 pm

gunter wrote:If architects claim to be among the leaders of society, learning how to communicate ideas without always dipping into outandish jargon and unnecessary French words would be a good place to start, in my opinion.


Hear hear! Perhaps, it would be best for everyone if they just pinned up the plans and said nothing at all!
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Re: Architecture (in words)

Postby ctesiphon » Wed Apr 22, 2009 9:05 am

Let's not forget the words of GB Shaw (from The Doctor's Dilemma)- All professions are conspiracies against the laity.

I fully agree with Paul and gunter- you can describe/explain crap buildings in over-contrived language (bad), and you can describe/explain well-designed buildings in simple language (good).

Sometimes I suspect the relationship is inversely proportional- the more high-falutin' the language, the worse the building.

Although I've also seen good buildings described using ridiculous language- usually to the detriment of the building itself.
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Re: Architecture (in words)

Postby reddy » Wed Apr 22, 2009 9:46 am

Yeah totally agree. We do ourselves no favours using this kind of language. It just reinforces the publics opinions of an arrogant and needless extra cost in a project.

I think it stems from a constant necessity to explain every little move in college. There was a couple of times when I got chewed out of it for saying that 'it just seemed right' to explain my decisions. I'm not a fan of post rationalisation.
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Re: Architecture (in words)

Postby henno » Wed Apr 22, 2009 10:15 am

Good architecture should need no explanation at all, it should work on all levels and be understood subconsciously by its users. To try to explain or justify particular creations in such convoluted language is akin to gilding the lily, which in many cases has the affect of souring the taste.

It does a disservice to the public at large.... they are the ones who inform public opinions, they determine what is popular in music, entertainment and culture at large. Are we now saying that they are too ignorant to determine what is good architecture?

Should architecture be focused to be understood by the client, users and general public... or should it be aimed at impressing the architecture elite?? Is architecture 'public art' or is it an indulgence of a fetish????
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Re: Architecture (in words)

Postby KerryBog2 » Wed Apr 22, 2009 10:49 am

It's worth repeating - from http://www.irish-architecture.com/news/2009/000074.html
The building can be situated within this developing tradition by rooting itself in its own situation and expressing something of the concealed history of its landscape. We have designed the building by discovering a founding narrative for the site and showing how the deeper geological order has allowed a local culture to emerge and how this has, in turn, shaped the wider natural landscape. The relationship between topography, climate, economic and social history and the natural order of flora and fauna is a proper study for architecture. We hope that a successful building design will emerge from these considerations. As a result the building can be capable of being read as a microcosm of the whole landscape. This allows the building to mediate between the exhibits displayed within and the broader culture of the region.


Did anyone ever read such twaddle?

Kenmare is in itself a microcosm of “Contemporary Irish Culture” :-

It leads the country for gombeenism in politics, planning and rezoning / town planning.

Like most Irish rural towns it has a growing population but no facilities – no train service, no public bus service (other than one bus a day in summer months, 4 hours to Cork!), no cinema, theatre or public swimming pool.

Its sanitation services cannot cope with the effluent and the place stinks on a summer’s day; there is a water shortage every year (in Kerry, for God’s sake!)

It has new, boring housing estates in various shade of magnolia, some completed and empty, others part-finished and abandoned. Its stock of old buildings is being run down and the few remaining ones invariably sport plastic windows of the worst type.

It has an out-of-town shopping centre with mainly empty retail units. It has no cultural activities or events.

It has several upmarket hotels with the obligatory “Spa”- fat arses being rubbed with roundy stones by candlelight, not even a generation away from the basin in the kitchen and carbolic soap. Most are empty of closed in the off-season.

Hen nights for Cork birds are frequent and a drink culture is dominant. Its restaurants are overpriced and cater for the passing trade, why bother with effort when you are unlikely to see the diners again?

Kenmare has no need for a Centre of Contemporary Irish Culture - it is one. Just put a roof over the town and preserve it the way it is.
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Re: Architecture (in words)

Postby henno » Wed Apr 22, 2009 11:10 am

nice one KB....

its scary to think that that could also be a description of many moderately sized towns around the country, in the wake of the 'celtic tiger's flatulence.....
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Re: Architecture (in words)

Postby what? » Wed Apr 22, 2009 12:11 pm

Many buildings encompass complex and overlapping ideas, which require explanation and or analysis as part of a cultural communication with the aim of progressing the subject.

I would go as far as to say sometimes the ideas encompassed in a building are more important that the building itself.

The quality of the building in the flesh/ and whatever written word may be published about it is a matter for individual and we should not exclude “high falutin’” language because it is sometimes misused or intimidates some people.

God forbid that we approach building in any way other than the readily quantifiable aspects of comprehendible function/ price/ image.

Architecture should aspire to be a cultural act, not the facilitation of client ‘requirements’ and regulatory compliance.

Paul – From the AAI’s website “The Architectural Association of Ireland was founded in 1896 ‘to promote and afford facilities for the study of architecture and the allied sciences and arts, and to provide a medium of friendly communication between members and others interested in the progress of architecture’.”

It is not a publicly orientated organisation and neither should it be, in my opinion. What made you feel unwelcome? The complex content of some of the lectures? I for one am very pro AAI and grateful that there is an organistaion out there that caters for architects intellects above the level of Duncan Stewart. It is the ounly outlet in this country for architecture that has not been dumbed-down for general consumption.

Ctestiphon – Explain LaTourette in a sentence “ it’s a concrete monastery?” is that sufficient to communicate the ideas latent in a piece of architecture so rich?

Kerry Bog – your blatant contradictions need no highlighting, I hold your opinion in high contempt.

Make the monkeys clap.
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Re: Architecture (in words)

Postby reddy » Wed Apr 22, 2009 1:49 pm

what? wrote:Many buildings encompass complex and overlapping ideas, which require explanation and or analysis as part of a cultural communication with the aim of progressing the subject.

I would go as far as to say sometimes the ideas encompassed in a building are more important that the building itself.

The quality of the building in the flesh/ and whatever written word may be published about it is a matter for individual and we should not exclude “high falutin’” language because it is sometimes misused or intimidates some people.

God forbid that we approach building in any way other than the readily quantifiable aspects of comprehendible function/ price/ image.

Architecture should aspire to be a cultural act, not the facilitation of client ‘requirements’ and regulatory compliance.

Paul – From the AAI’s website “The Architectural Association of Ireland was founded in 1896 ‘to promote and afford facilities for the study of architecture and the allied sciences and arts, and to provide a medium of friendly communication between members and others interested in the progress of architecture’.”

It is not a publicly orientated organisation and neither should it be, in my opinion. What made you feel unwelcome? The complex content of some of the lectures? I for one am very pro AAI and grateful that there is an organistaion out there that caters for architects intellects above the level of Duncan Stewart. It is the ounly outlet in this country for architecture that has not been dumbed-down for general consumption.

Ctestiphon – Explain LaTourette in a sentence “ it’s a concrete monastery?” is that sufficient to communicate the ideas latent in a piece of architecture so rich?

Kerry Bog – your blatant contradictions need no highlighting, I hold your opinion in high contempt.

Make the monkeys clap.


The most successful architecture occurs when there's a perfect marriage between these aspirations towards art and delight and the pragmatics of construction and function.

I absolutely agree that sometimes the concept behind the building is extremely important but the fact is any of the examples highlighted here are terrible pieces of writing.

The general public are fully capable of understanding any concepts that architects can come up with and it would be a great leap forward for us if they did.

The simple fact of the matter is however that we have failed utterly in our communication.
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Re: Architecture (in words)

Postby gunter » Wed Apr 22, 2009 2:32 pm

what? wrote:Many buildings encompass complex and overlapping ideas, which require explanation and or analysis as part of a cultural communication with the aim of progressing the subject.

Explain LaTourette in a sentence “ it’s a concrete monastery?” is that sufficient to communicate the ideas latent in a piece of architecture so rich?


La Tourette is a complex concrete powerhouse for monastic contemplation and a formidable sculptural accident in the landscape, of course it's going to defy any attempt at a one line explanation, but Le Corbusier did give a decent one-liner for Ronchamp:

''Ronchamp . . . was not a matter of pillars but of plastic event . . ruled not by scholarly or academic formulae but free and innumerable''.

ImageImageImage
two view of La Tourette monastry and one of Ronchamp chapel (from The Le Corbusier Guide)

I get that!

edit: sorry ctestiphon, I think -what?- addressed that question to you!
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Re: Architecture (in words)

Postby what? » Wed Apr 22, 2009 3:23 pm

gunter wrote:La Tourette is a complex concrete powerhouse for monastic contemplation and a formidable sculptural accident in the landscape, of course it's going to defy any attempt at a one line explanation



With the above scentence, you have twofold reinforced my point. I appreciate your support
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