April 29, 2008

Ornament and Pattern in Mockitecture

Pop Art lends itself to mockitecture in many ways. The incorporation of commercial imagery into painting and sculpture is a good example of not only communicative art, but also of the new humanism which mockitecture brings with it. People need icons and references to things that they can relate to. It is the difference between "Aphrodite" and "Gold Marilyn Monroe." When was the last time you saw Aphrodite hanging on an everyday person's wall? The image of Marilyn Monroe not only appeals to a high-art-as-meaning interpretation, but also can appeal to the people. This is actaully more important in architecture than in art, because building are expressively designed to interact with normal, everyday people. Art does not have this responsibility.

What is commercial imagery?
Well it is the decorated shed, "where...ornament is applied independently of [structure and space]." Ornament applied in the form of super graphics and pattern is the easiest way to make funny or fun architecture. Is this a revival of postmodernism? in some ways, yes. Unfortunately, mockitecture must seek to incorporate other aesthetics in order to disassociate from postmodernism and the stigma attached.

Down with wildly unpopular "kitschy" architecture. Hoo-ray for mockitecture!

"This was parking lot, now its a peaceful oasis"

Many mockitectural thinkers are debating how mockitecture manifests itself and the appropriateness of the design inherently attached to the message. This is the //[un]titled [un]experiencable park// by N_O_R_T_O_N. It consists of a blank spot of land, preferable some sort of abandoned industrial site. It would ideally be located along the edge of an impoverished area. The park would be a beautiful creation. It would be a well-manicured area, and one lucky person would be called upon to groom it. This person would spend everyday watering the flowers and trimming the lawns. At the outer rim of this urban oasis would be a barbed wire fence. A very aggresive barbed wire fence at that. The only person who would be allowed in the park would be the caretaker.

Now I realize that this is not everyday architecture, but the space created in this concept brings with it many good points. is it not a wildly exaggerated characiture of the spaces we create with gentrification? how would people react to it? Would they laugh? Would they be angry? Would they attempt to interact with the space?

I remember in high school there was a fence that guarded the parking lot I liked to park in. Many times, there were no spots left, so we would have to park at a nearby street. It was much faster to jump over a fence on the way back to school. The deans didnt like this, so on the last day of school, some people cut a hole in the fence. This is mockitecture. Fences tend to have a power beyond the control of people's movement. Just the sight of a fence will create hostility in a person, even one with a gate that they are freely allowed to move in and out of.

Back to the park. This experimental space reminds me of Pop Art's questioning of the privatization of public space. Claus Oldenburg bought and ran a store in 1961 as an artwork in environmental form. While Oldenburg was dealing with the advent of comsumer culture, this same technique could be useful in questioning the elitist brutalism that is re-privatization of private and public spaces. Even when a space is private, it interesects with the public sphere. This is especially true on the scale of a neighborhood. when enough private spaces are transformed, the public space goes with them. This is true in negative ways and positive ways.

April 25, 2008

In Response to Comments on Mockitecture 101

Thank you Amy. Your article brings up some interesting points. Mockitecture allows ornament of all kinds. In fact, it probably prefers integrated ornament. Integration is not necessary, however, because if applied ornament, say, an image or pattern is funny (ironic/satirical/whimsical) then it has a place. There is no stance on validity in mockitecture. Mockitecture is an equal oppourtunity employer.

In regards to postmodernism as a whole, I prefer to use Charles Moore's definition, not Robert Venturi's. It deals less with the shed (architecture as advertisement) and more with the genre of architecture as art, a medium for meaning:
"1. Buildings can and should speak.
2. Therefore they should have freedom to speak. Functionalism suppressed the idea at which point architecture simply stopped being interesting for most people. But once we admit theat buildings can speak again, we should allow them to be wistful, wide, powerful, gentle, silly, just as people are.
3. Functional buildings, on the whole, were bleak and hostile. Those which replace them must be inhabitable in the minds and the bodies of human beings..."
While I agree that it was foolish to use classical architecture as the basis for their references, for a number of reasons, I do think that there are tenets of postmodernism that were "thrown out with the bathwater."

Graphic architecture has its place, however, in that it is a highly communicative form of building. It is actually very effective because it has the ability to resonate with everyday peoples' experiences. There is nothing to translate, nothing to stop and ponder. If we really aspire to a humanist architecture, we would make references to everyday things in our architecture, not just to architecture itself.

There is a certain irony about the use of the industrial vernacular as aesthetic basis, by a supposed avant-garde which supposedly despises mass production and uniformity. Can the American commercial vernacular hold the ticket to architecture which speaks directly to people about ideas that they can grasp?

April 20, 2008

Mockitecture 101

As we realize more and more the extent and implications of mockitecture, actual projects are manifesting themselves at a pacy pace. Here is a preview of what is to come in the next couple weeks. Create your own mockitecture anywhere you would like, and let us know about it.

April 15, 2008

Hello, and Welcome to Mockitecture

Mockitecture is beginning to build steam, and it is coming for you. In the next few weeks, look for the following events:
  • The unveiling of several new mockitecture projects, including the most recent addition to mockitecture, "Tectonic Folly." These projects are to be launched one at a time. A trailer is in production, and should be available within the next week.
  • A Rhinocerous workshop "happening" is in the works. Why is this mockitecture? Well, I will answer my own question with a question of my own. Why do we as mockitects, need to put on such a workshop?
Several other events will be organized throughout the quarter. Please let us know if you can provide assistance for these events.

Also, if you see any funny buildings, purposeful or accidental, please send it along. Links as comments or email.

April 14, 2008

Stances and Non-Stances

"We come to recognize that playfulness, as a phillosophical stance, can be very serious indeed; and moreover, that it possesses an unfailing capacity to arouse ridicule and hostility in those among us who crave certainty, reverence, and restraint."
Mockitecture is a non-stance that can be applied to all current ideologies, theories, and trends.

April 9, 2008

Construction Mistakes Gone Wild

While the Longaberger basket building is well made, iconographic, and expressive of the building's function, it is not good architecture. Would the building have been funny without the handles? Would it's positive aspects been more widely accepted if not for the useless handles? Would it still be iconographic? I guess this is one California Crazy building gone wrong. That is why I'm including it in the construciton mistakes section of mockitecture. It is in its own way a construction mistake.

The rest of these are probably just miscommunication between architects, contractors, and subs. One guy claims that in Russia, contractors are afraid to say anything to architects about mistakes, and will build the buildings according to plan.

Click here for more construction mistakes.

April 4, 2008

A New Duck?

All the duck, none of the stucco.

Early Eclecticism: A Bizarre Bazaar

Credit the beginning of mockitecture to a mother in London from the 19th century named Frances Trollope. Leaving her children behind, she traveled to America, staying in Cincinnati, Ohio - a hub in the westward expansion of America during the Industrial Revolution. Ms. Trollope critically denounced Cincinnati as a city built of "architectural sameness." In response, an entertainment and shopping center was commissioned as a business venture for her son. This building was conceptualized by Trollope, and French painter, Auguste Hervieu, to be a "distinctive, light-hearted" building.
"The Bazaar was an amusing concoction of Moorish, Egyptian, and Gothic elements. It was one of the first examples of the spirit of Eclecticism - drawing upon historic styles from various exotic cultures - which came to dominate American building for the remainder of the century."

"Cincinnatians and visitors, who were accustomed in public buildings to the simplicity of the vernacular [...] delighted in attaching what they regarded as the tastelessness of the 'bizarre bazaar'."
The Trollopean Bazaar was designed by Seneca Palmer in 1829. He was one of Cincinnati's only architects (mockitects?) at the time and the designer of several significant architectural landmarks in the city. For more information, see Cincinnati the Queen City by Daniel Hurley (Cincinnati: Cincinnati Historical Society, 1982). This article references excerpts from chapter 1 of that text.

April 3, 2008

Neo-Brutalism of the Far East: North Korean Paranoia

This is the Neo-Brutalist Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang, North Korea. It’s a 1000 ft tall pyramid-shaped building with 3,000 rooms, and was supposed to have 7 revolving restaurants, except they never actually finished it. Wikipedia says:

"newspapers estimated the cost of construction was $750 million - 2% of North Korea’s GDP - and it is generally assumed construction came to a halt in 1992 due to lack of funding, acute electricity shortages, and the prevailing famine."

The building itself is complete, however it has no windows, fixtures or fittings - which makes it officially the world’s Tallest Unoccupied Building! In fact, it’s the tallest building by far in North Korea, the 18th tallest building in the entire world, and if it were ever to be completed, would be the world’s tallest hotel. Here’s a picture which really gives you a great impression of scale. It was intended to rival the capitalist skyscrapers of S Korea, but money ran out and work was abandoned in the 90s. It now sits empty, unfinished, and almost certainly structurally unsound. Rumor has it that official DPRK maps are not allowed to show its location, even though the structure towers over the city (and is pretty impressive on Google maps).

Ryugyong is one of the most important mockitectural buildings of the 20th century. It is a huge failure. It is a joke of a building, bad mockitecture, but offers us further proof of mockitecture's sociological and political leverage.

Ryugyong is a communist memorial. The hotel embodies the failure of Communism. Beauty in 1000 feet of concrete bliss. It towers over the city like a regime. However, it is a physical representation of a good idea gone wrong, much like communism itself.