June 23, 2009

Slutty Technology + A New Brutalism = ...

...A rant by N O R T O N

I was recently eStalking Sam Jacob via twitter (my apologies to Mr. Jacob for eStalking, and to everyone for mentioning Twitter) and came across an interesting article: The young generation with a new vision to build Britain, by Geraldine Bedell of The Observer.  You can read about it here.

Something that immediately caught my eye: a discussion of our generation's rejection of what I would call "technological puke" or what others call "bubble architecture"...and what Peter Lynch in the article identifies as the "idiot avant garde."

As a member of the generation Lynch is talking about, I find the subject is critically relevant, yet lacking significant discourse.  In school, for example, faculty were seemingly caught off guard by "thin" design where image and flashy computer graphics trumped "thick" design of drawing, thought, and decision-making.  We were not slapped in the face for presenting a building associated with the "idiot avant garde" -  the infamous building which was seemingly only designed around, or built for, that one night rendering produced in 3D Studio Max, V-Ray, et. al.

From Bedell's article: 
Patrick Lynch is actively hostile to what he sees as the inevitable decline of modernism into what he calls the "idiot avant garde, which means that all your work ultimately looks the same, whatever the climate". He claims that younger architects are disenchanted with "the idea that technological progress equals artistic progress equals moral progress equals virtue, which leads to the kind of thinking that it's OK to go and build for a completely unpalatable regime and fuck up the planet for money, because you're working in your signature style and it's an expression of individual creativity" (^interjection: isn't that what happened in China for last summer's olympic games???)
A couple of reasons for my personal hatred of slutty technology:  

  1. The tradition of "making" is succumbing to the tradition of "picking" with a mouse (e.g. before: "that architect has a hot pencil." today: "that architect has a hot mouse.")
  2. The building I was trained as an architect in (Mr. Eisenman's 1996 addition to D.A.A.P.) seemingly exists for the architect's pursuit of a singular, narrow-minded vision and (brutal)ly ignores the needs and uses of students and faculty.  Perhaps this is a new interpretation of brutalism - one of narrow and limited social objectives.  It seems fitting Eisenman's building is in the shadows of one of the largest continuously poured concrete structures in the world - a the brutalist tower/skyscraper named Crosley Tower. Images below:

(Link to evan.chakroff's photostream)


Gary said...

An interesting discussion on NPR the other day about "perfect" music quality...a debate about "authentic" analog noise with its cracks and pops vs. "inhuman" and "fake" digital noise. Seems that architecture is about to undergo that same debate. What is "perfect" architecture? and can it be achieved solely through the technology you spoke of in your post? -G
p.s. the npr discussion can be found here: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=105762127

dontknockitecture said...

never realized just how magnificent DAAP and Crosley looked together.

N O R T O N said...

another eisenman special: THONG