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Old September 23rd, 2016, 02:23 PM   #2061
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You can't compare modern buildings with old ones from outdated styles. There is strong survivorship bias in building structures: usually, not many buildings from long-dead styles survive, and those that do survive tend to be better representatives of that category. Meanwhile, buildings all over the spectrum in quality are build at any point in time.

This is why it is improper to compare older buildings that survived a century or more to all buildings being constructed right now.
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Old September 23rd, 2016, 02:46 PM   #2062
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No, it's not. Europe is full of buildings that stood for centuries, some towns even have their full stock of a certain time dating back to the Middle Ages (see Venice, Prague, Florence, Rome, Paris, Rothenburg, Lübeck, Amsterdam; but also much poorer places). People intended to build for eternity until post-war industrialisation, and they often achieved this, using solid bricks, stone, wood, slate and so on.

Don't lie to yourself, general building quality is much, much lower today, and on purpose so (often built for short investment cycles or political ideology). There's plastic, cheap concrete, dispersion varnish, asbestos etc. and ill-thought engineering in so many buildings, a large stock of them won't survive.
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Old September 23rd, 2016, 03:47 PM   #2063
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Do you honestly believe they had indoor plumbing with electrical pumping in the Middle Ages? Most of these "old" buildings are patched-up structures with dozens of interventions.

When well-cared for, concrete is an amazing building material. Just look at Roman ruins where they exist! Reinforced concrete is even better.

In any case, I'm totally in favor of this "buildings-as-fashion" mentality: built them, use for a couple decades, and tear most of them down to build something else further down the road.
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Old September 23rd, 2016, 05:08 PM   #2064
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I didn't say concrete is bad per se, you need to listen. I said they often use bad quality concrete these days, among other lesser-quality materials, techniques and aesthetics. Roughly 90% of today's construction activity today isn't sustainable imho, while ~90% of earlier times was. Even temporary(-thought) structures like Expo buildings including the Eiffel Tower are still standing, for centuries now, iconical for their times.

Constantly tearing down buildings is one of the worst misguided principles of modernism. Complete bonkers. But I'm not surprised you support anything that bears your short-sighted ideological dogma.
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Old September 23rd, 2016, 09:42 PM   #2065
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All buildings will fall down in time if not cared for. Most buildings are not destroyed because they are poorly built, but because they are torn down or because they burn down. A lot of shoddily built houses have stood since the middle ages, if they've been cared for relatively regularly. In Stockholm's old town, many medieval buildings lack their own side walls, having been built directly against their neighboring house and using the already existing wall. They're also often poorly grounded, and many have subsided precariously over the centuries. Their relatively plastic building materials (brick and wood) have saved them from collapse, but they're not really "well built" according to modern standards.
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Old September 23rd, 2016, 10:12 PM   #2066
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You're contradicting yourself. They don't even need to be "well built" or "according to modern standards", as long as they use quality materials and techniques which sustain them for centuries.
Look at Venice. A town built like that on top of the lagoon in "modern standards" (steel, concrete that hardly breathes) would corrode worringly in just a few years.

Traditional materials and techniques work much better in most conditions. Because we're surrounded by nature even when we create 'artificial' places, using natural materials that adapt to any condition within their climate makes sense.
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Old September 23rd, 2016, 10:37 PM   #2067
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Old September 24th, 2016, 09:28 AM   #2068
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Re: Tiaren and Erbse

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tiaren View Post
...or maybe you are overanalyzing this and the Spree facade is just Stella's preferred style to design facades.

Older works by Stella: (pics)

Notice the strong similarities to the Spree facade and the other modern parts of the Humboldt Forum? Stella prefers it monumental, angular, repetitive and austere but with a certain grace and elegance and a nod to neoclassicism actually, not baroque. The baroque facades of the City Palace are also highly irregular and asymmetric, playfully segmented with many protusions and setbacks, differing window shapes and sizes and not repetitive and boring at all, even if you strip it of it's ornamentation.
While it's possible that I'm over-analyzing, I am serious in that this sort of complicated consideration DOES go into any respectable modern buildings. Unfortunately, modern design is largely a world of thought processes inaccessible to most people, because the architects don't exactly project their design concept to the public, so nobody knows what the buildings are supposed to represent. Rest assured, though, if Stella is an architect of any sort of good standing among the architecture community, he's not just making these designs up out of thin air; if he is, then he's a terrible architect and should not be taken seriously by his colleagues.

Now, those buildings you posted are admittedly hideous and don't appear at first glance to have any design intent whatsoever. Here's a good rule of thumb. If a modern building is very well designed, a few people who actually take the time will be able to understand its function and concept just by studying it for a bit. I was able to determine what I see to be a real meaning behind the Spree facade; therefore, even if ALL Stella's other buildings turned out to be meaningless, the spree facade would still be a good piece of modern architecture.

Also, I disagree with your assessment of the Stadtschloss; as nice as I'll admit they are to look at, the massings of the baroque facades are very poorly proportioned and the shapes of every single facade are results of haphazard circumstance, not of a good central design. Also, take a look at pictures of the stadtschloss's concrete shell before they clad it with brick and stone. It was so repetitive and ugly it's hard to even describe; the promised added decoration is the only reason everyone here was and is praising it; imagine if it had been left a concrete shell!

Quote:
Originally Posted by erbse View Post
True.

In addition I'd add, that modernist architecture in general isn't less wasteful than classical, but much more. Instead using natural, sustainable materials it often goes for worse quality artificial materials that age badly, and demand much more maintenance and renewal.
The same goes for the aesthetics, 'contemporary' and considered-modern architecture often chooses expressions that are anything but timeless, and are considered outdated in the course of just a few years. That increases the pressure to overdo or even demolish buildings after just some years. And then there's floorplans, oh my gosh they screwed up so bad in this regard in the past few decades, way too many buildings since post-war times are highly impractical and inefficient.

In that regard, we live in highly wasteful times. While many medieval, baroque, classicist etc. buildings still work greatly today and are kept with care, I highly doubt many modernist buildings will enjoy this fate.

I won't over-generalize though, of course there's very good quality modernist buildings, too. But while high quality and durability is the rule in traditional/classical architecture (due to sustainable materials and techniques), it's just an exception in modernism since the second half of the 20th century.
Erbse, I agree with you that there are bad modernist buildings and very good ones, but I am going to have to take a shot at that "rule" of old buildings being high quality and durable. Versailles itself was very shoddily built; the walls were filled with rubble that all settled down over the centuries and had to be refilled. The Eisenhower Executive Office Building in D.C. was very well built, but the architect was known for hiding poor massing with excessive detail. The architect's buildings were very poorly designed in this way, even if they were built to last. The Stadtschloss itself had such a ridiculously poor layout it was pathetic, as enjoyable as that must have made it to explore.

Also, I'm not sure we're discussing sustainability in a manner deep enough for it to even be relevant. First of all, you cannot judge sustainability in terms of 40 years ago. There is incredible progress being made. Any respectable modern architect will make all of their buildings sustainable as a base rule, not as something to brag about; notice the great energy efficiency of the Humboldt forum? Respectable modern architects will also make their buildings fit current programs, but also will ensure a wide variety of possible alternative uses in the design; the Forum again reflects this ideal as well as it could. Modern architects do try. About those buildings that become quickly outdated: Buildings that seek to shock people through their weirdness or just latching onto a showy fad are mostly trash. Though they are the ones most visible, that doesn't mean they should be representing architecture as a whole; the good ones will seek timelessness by deriving from surroundings and purpose instead of seeking to be an ugly landmark.

Another thing I'd like to point out is that older buildings were sustainable out of convenience, not out of good design. Convenience and cost, not intentionally poor design, is the real reason modern buildings are often so unsustainable.

I believe you are confusing modern construction by developers and retailers with modern architecture; urban sprawl barely even qualifies, if it does at all, as actual architecture. I just want to close by saying that just as we like to judge old architecture by the good examples that survived the years, we should judge modern architecture by the best examples that really demonstrate the state of the art, and not derive our attitudes from those people cursed with designing cookie cutter Best Buys at the lowest possible price.

I'll add that I'm really enjoying this discussion, even if most readers seem to be siding against me.
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Old September 24th, 2016, 04:31 PM   #2069
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Berlin is still ugly. It never recovered from WW2.
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Old September 24th, 2016, 04:48 PM   #2070
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Berlin is still ugly. It never recovered from WW2.
Well, the city certainly never recovered its former status as, arguably, the world's most beautiful city. But it is definitely unfair to write it off by saying it is ugly now. Sure, many ugly parts exist that were built for dire needs after WWII. But an huge percent has been rethought, rebuilt, remodeled, and reborn...presenting a newer, beautiful, and very interesting metropolis.
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Old September 24th, 2016, 06:05 PM   #2071
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I hope I didn't come across too strongly against the Stadtschloss in the past two posts. I fully support the project: Restoring the facades is a good idea because it helps to reunify the core of the city, because the palace's presence was for so long integral to its surroundings, and because the city has lost so much of its history that I think it's important to help remind people of what was. Even if I see baroque facades as wasteful and objectively poorly designed, I do really like looking at them and am happy that the people of Berlin get to look at them again too, and baroque is one of my favorite architectural styles. I just wanted to say that as long as it was necessary to have a modern Spree facade, what we got was not as bad as everybody thinks, and that building highly decorated buildings only makes sense and is sustainable if they are reconstructions of highly architecturally or historically significant buildings, of which the Stadtschloss was definitely both, or if it could help restore the atmosphere of a historic area, which the Stadtschloss is also doing. If these conditions are not met, the replacements, due to economic constraints, will probably just end up looking like this:

Notice in this picture that old elements are still being used in architecture even in present day? There's pediments, buttresses, base rustication, the areas around the doors are made to be taller and set forward in a forced perspective illusion to make it look like there's a huge portico, there's horizontal bands of concrete imitating stone cornices. This is what happens when people can't leave old forms behind in a rapidly changing world; this is why new buildings should just suck it up and act modern, being honest about the times and conditions they arose from. Again though, the Stadtschloss is a great project and I didn't want to devalue it in any way.
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Old September 24th, 2016, 08:23 PM   #2072
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Quote:
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You're contradicting yourself. They don't even need to be "well built" or "according to modern standards", as long as they use quality materials and techniques which sustain them for centuries.
Look at Venice. A town built like that on top of the lagoon in "modern standards" (steel, concrete that hardly breathes) would corrode worringly in just a few years.

Traditional materials and techniques work much better in most conditions. Because we're surrounded by nature even when we create 'artificial' places, using natural materials that adapt to any condition within their climate makes sense.
There are no "quality materials and techniques" that will sustain a house for centuries. All houses need human care to last that long. There's nothing to suggest that buildings with "modern" materials won't last just as long, given the same care.

But the quality of a building isn't just if it's going to stand for 500 years (and again, most buildings will if they're taken care of). Buildings in the past were, for the most part, difficult to heat effectively, drafty, very flammable and so on. Old buildings that still stand has generally been updated with better insulation, modern heating systems, sprinkler systems etc.

It's very possible that Venice is a special case that could only have been build using traditional materials. At the same time, Venice is sinking as the wooden piling holding it up is decomposing because of changing conditions in the lagoon.
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Old September 24th, 2016, 10:06 PM   #2073
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Quote:
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Berlin is still ugly. It never recovered from WW2.

Try opening your eyes!!! There are parts of Berlin which are fantastic; other parts, thanks to our "Commie friends" which are terrible. But, Berlin is a wonderful city, and is finding it's own terrific character. There are some wonderful buildings in Berlin, both old and new. Less of the negative vibes, and look with un bias eyes.

Liebe Berlin.
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Old September 25th, 2016, 01:25 AM   #2074
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The technique allows us to build much stronger, durable, sustainable and intelligent, at a lower price than in ancient times, when there were far fewer skills and experience and brute strength, hardness of materials and wall thickness buildings, was the basis of all with countless disasters

Another thing is that to reduce costs, today, especially topcoats, are not the best or not should be, because companies lose future profits for repairs and that the speculate and craving for more lead us to shoot down it modern, which is not yet protected, for money.
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Old September 27th, 2016, 02:12 PM   #2075
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erbse View Post
You're contradicting yourself. They don't even need to be "well built" or "according to modern standards", as long as they use quality materials and techniques which sustain them for centuries.
Look at Venice. A town built like that on top of the lagoon in "modern standards" (steel, concrete that hardly breathes) would corrode worringly in just a few years.

Traditional materials and techniques work much better in most conditions. Because we're surrounded by nature even when we create 'artificial' places, using natural materials that adapt to any condition within their climate makes sense.
Venice needs a constant, continuous, never-ending maintenance to remain standing. Up until the half of last century, it was very common to just replace buildings or "renovate" by basically tearing down everything and making it newer but cheaper. And yeah, lots of concrete in this.

In addition to that, conditions of life in Venetian houses were very bad until that time. The exceptionally high tide in 1966 basically evicted thousands of people from their households, forcing them to abandon the ground floors (which are now shops, usually).

Only in the last 30 years, modern materials were basically banned as long as there's a traditional alternative. There is: you can cut the wall (to prevent humidity) by inserting a line of stone between two layers of bricks, instead of putting a plastic sheet or injecting resins. You can make plaster with traditional materials, knowing that it will start crumbling already 1-2 years after laying it.

Only now these traditional methods have become widespread and they're replacing concrete and other innovations. In the '70s you just couldn't expect households with 13 people in 80 m2 to be able to afford buying Istrian stone for a proper traditionalist cut of the wall. This has a huge cost, which is nowadays basically compensated by our taxes, and I'm glad about it.

These traditional solutions were basically absent in most of the houses, which were really of poor quality, and in fact they often used to demolish the building from 13th century to replace with a 1910's building with printed concrete decorations, or with simple plain windows. Up until modernism, you just accepted having mold all over your house, whereas only wealthy people could afford to have a high-quality house.
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Old September 27th, 2016, 04:20 PM   #2076
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Perhaps some literature needs to be put in here, but that's reserved for another while...
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Old September 29th, 2016, 11:16 AM   #2077
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I would call the eastern facade a neutral one - neither beautiful, nor extremely ugly. But I am really disappointed about the fact that due to the design peculiarities (especially intermediate floor constructions) the While Hall and Chapel will never be restored.


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Old September 29th, 2016, 02:41 PM   #2078
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Never say never though...

Such things were done before and they will get done at Berlin's Stadtschloss in time.
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Old October 3rd, 2016, 03:26 PM   #2079
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Very happy Tag der Deutschen Einheit
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Old October 3rd, 2016, 05:22 PM   #2080
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I would call the eastern facade a neutral one - neither beautiful, nor extremely ugly. But I am really disappointed about the fact that due to the design peculiarities (especially intermediate floor constructions) the While Hall and Chapel will never be restored.


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This view of the White Hall is looking north from the Chapel, with the windows on the left facing the front of the palace and those on the far side of the image facing the Lustgarten.

The last time the room was filled for a grand affair, with the royal family and hundreds of Europe's royal guests, was the wedding dinner for Wilhelm II's only daughter, Viktoria Luise, on May 24, 1913.
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