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View Poll Results: Has architectural modernism failed?
Yes 190 45.13%
No 231 54.87%
Voters: 421. You may not vote on this poll

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Old August 25th, 2011, 05:09 PM   #221
kaligraffi
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Originally Posted by tpe View Post
I should note here for the sake of accuracy that this picture is a reconstruction of an upper-class Roman town house in Wroxeter, theoretically reconstructed using the De Architectura of Vitruvius, which certainly does NOT accurately depict the standard dwelling of the vast majority of Roman citizens or the ordinary inhabitants of the Roman Empire.
a.) Who said it represented the "majority of Roman citizens"? No one. The house represents Roman housing as it could be done when enough resources were available. There were a few anachronistic additions (like the roof), but for the most part it isn't inaccurate, and the details that aren't historical aren't pertinent to my points. Pre-industrial societies simply didn't have the productive capacity to provide everyone with luxurious or ideal quarters, and so we must expect an accompanying variety of quality, but this is entirely beside the point of architectural styles and principles of design.

The point remains that a successful, complete architecture employs art-form with core-form (aka ornament). Modernist anti-architecture refuses to follow these principles, and is thus incomplete, unsatisfying and contrary to human interaction. Surveys show the majority of modern people agree.

b.) Your modernist "icons" like van der Rohe's failed glass shoe box don't represent the standard dwelling of common people today. Your rank obliviousness of this fact is quite typical of modernist apologists.

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Also, De Architectura of Vitruvius embodies an IDEAL (and not the REALITY) of Roman architecture, similar to Alberti's elucidation on an ideal classical architecture about a thousand years later.

As cited in the English Heritage site:
It's a modern reconstruction of what Romans would have built, and so it demonstrates the indivisibility of classical architecture and ornament, as explained by the professor's quote. This, unsurprisingly, is lost on you.

Just to clarify, here's the professor's quote again: "Colour, bling, excess – that's what they liked". Compare that to your modernist rejection of ornament and it's clear that your ideology runs contrary to the reality of successful architecture.

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Originally Posted by El_Greco
No its not and besides Rome itself didnt have grid plan and Fes doesnt lack open spaces either. Indeed theres loads of those.
You're right that Rome didn't, but that was an issue of circumstance more than choice. Whenever the Romans practicably could, they would use a grid plan for their settlements.

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Yes, I spent a week there in June and those are my photos, the grid plan would have been a total disaster - the purpose of narrow streets is to protect them from the heat.
Doesn't help when you're trying to get out of the medina and you can't, though. Been there done that.

But to get back to the riad you posted, why is it that modernism is incapable of producing buildings with that kind of complexity, depth and human space? Why does modernism spurn evocative space in favor of cold, alienating, displeasing forms? In other words, why do the buildings of modernism utterly pale in comparison to the efforts of pre-modernist styles?
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Last edited by kaligraffi; August 25th, 2011 at 05:23 PM.
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Old August 25th, 2011, 05:24 PM   #222
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Originally Posted by kaligraffi View Post
a.) Who said it represented the "majority of Roman citizens"? No one. The house represents Roman housing as it could be done when enough resources were available. There were a few anachronistic additions (like the roof), but for the most part it isn't inaccurate, and the details that aren't historical aren't pertinent to my points. Pre-industrial societies simply didn't have the productive capacity to provide everyone with luxurious or ideal quarters, and so we must expect an accompanying variety of quality, but this is entirely beside the point of architectural styles and principles of design.

The point remains that a successful, complete architecture employs art-form with core-form (aka ornament). Modernist anti-architecture refuses to follow these principles, and is thus incomplete, unsatisfying and contrary to human interaction. Surveys show the majority of modern people agree.

b.) Your modernist "icons" like van der Rohe's failed glass shoe box don't represent the standard dwelling of common people today. Your rank obliviousness of this fact is quite typical of modernist apologists.

It's a modern reconstruction of what Romans would have built, and so it demonstrates the indivisibility of classical architecture and ornament, as explained by the professor's quote. This, unsurprisingly, is lost on you.
My comment simply means that you extrapolate too much about "Roman Houses" when you use that building to try to make your point in this statement:

"Suffice to say that in spite of these concerns it's frankly untrue that Roman houses had a "total lack of exterior decoration". Even in the north they would put in some flourishes"
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Old August 25th, 2011, 05:33 PM   #223
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Originally Posted by tpe View Post
My comment simply means that you extrapolate too much about "Roman Houses" when you use that building to try to make your point in this statement:

"Suffice to say that in spite of these concerns it's frankly untrue that Roman houses had a "total lack of exterior decoration". Even in the north they would put in some flourishes"
Exactly how am I extrapolating too much? Did Romans not put paint on their houses? Were columns left completely bare?

Go ahead, justify your statement...and keep ignoring the established fact that Romans loved to decorate their homes when they could. Lest we forget, "Colour, bling, excess – that's what they liked".
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Old August 25th, 2011, 05:48 PM   #224
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Originally Posted by kaligraffi View Post
Exactly how am I extrapolating too much? Did Romans not put paint on their houses? Were columns left completely bare?

Go ahead, justify your statement...and keep ignoring the established fact that Romans loved to decorate their homes when they could. Lest we forget, "Colour, bling, excess – that's what they liked".
You can't say, and you have no proof, that "Roman houses" were always painted, or that columns were always ornamented.

And the house you gave as an example was supposed to represent an upper-class house. It certainly is not the norm.

As I said, you extrapolate too much.
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Old August 25th, 2011, 06:04 PM   #225
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You can't say, and you have no proof, that "Roman houses" were always painted, or that columns were always ornamented.
Ha, good one. Unfortunately for you, it's an indisputable fact that we know Roman houses employed all manner of decoration.

So once again, either claim that Roman houses weren't painted or admit that you have no argument. Thanks a bunch.

Quote:
And the house you gave as an example was supposed to represent an upper-class house. It certainly is not the norm.
First, it represents an upper-class house, which represents the architectural principles that Romans would build with when available resources would permit them. Second, it wasn't the norm only because of the productive limitations of pre-industrial society. Third, van der Rohe's display case that you fawn over represents no norm, nor could it.

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As I said, you extrapolate too much.
"Colour, bling, excess – that's what they liked"
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Old August 25th, 2011, 06:11 PM   #226
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Originally Posted by kaligraffi View Post
Ha, good one. Unfortunately for you, it's an indisputable fact that we know Roman houses employed all manner of decoration.

So once again, either claim that Roman houses weren't painted or admit that you have no argument. Thanks a bunch.


First, it represents an upper-class house, which represents the architectural principles that Romans would build with when available resources would permit them. Second, it wasn't the norm only because of the productive limitations of pre-industrial society. Third, van der Rohe's display case that you fawn over represents no norm, nor could it.


"Colour, bling, excess – that's what they liked"
You can't prove that "Roman houses" were always painted. We know that some houses were painted. But we can't extrapolate from this that houses in the Roman Empire were always painted.

And an upper-class house is certainly not the norm. You cannot use this to extrapolate to "Roman houses" in general.
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Old August 25th, 2011, 06:19 PM   #227
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You can't prove that "Roman houses" were always painted. We know that some houses were painted. But we can't extrapolate from this that houses in the Roman Empire were always painted.
So I guess you'll take option B, concede that you have no argument. Cool.

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And an upper-class house is certainly not the norm. You cannot use this to extrapolate to "Roman houses" in general.
Uh, yeah, since you're incapable of comprehending a point I guess I have to repeat this:

First, it represents an upper-class house, which represents the architectural principles that Romans would build with when available resources would permit them. Second, it wasn't the norm only because of the productive limitations of pre-industrial society. Third, van der Rohe's display case that you fawn over represents no norm, nor could it.

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Old August 25th, 2011, 06:31 PM   #228
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So I guess you'll take option B, concede that you have no argument. Cool.


Uh, yeah, since you're incapable of comprehending a point I guess I have to repeat this:

First, it represents an upper-class house, which represents the architectural principles that Romans would build with when available resources would permit them. Second, it wasn't the norm only because of the productive limitations of pre-industrial society. Third, van der Rohe's display case that you fawn over represents no norm, nor could it.

It is prudent NOT to extrapolate too much in discussions such as this.

Don't extrapolate too much. It is misleading and undisciplined.
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Old August 25th, 2011, 06:40 PM   #229
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It is prudent NOT to extrapolate too much in discussions such as this.

Don't extrapolate too much. It is misleading and undisciplined.
Except I'm not extrapolating, merely recognizing a fact...one of the many facts that show how modernism violates the principles of a full and satisfying architecture.
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Old August 25th, 2011, 06:43 PM   #230
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Except I'm not extrapolating, merely recognizing a fact...one of the many facts that show how modernism violates the principles of a full and satisfying architecture.
I think the above few exchanges are sufficient basis for other people/readers to judge what is and what is not.
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Old August 25th, 2011, 10:41 PM   #231
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Not unlikely, but very probable.

For every "pretty" old building you see in the UK, ask yourself how many ugly ones were destroyed or replaced by later structures or remodeled/refitted in later periods.

My point is that most of the "old" structures that have survived have not survised as-is, and even then, the survivors are NOT de-facto indicators of what the prevailing styles in buildings were like. Survival can be very selective, and as I said before, "old" is sometimes an illusion.
Clearly they aren't exactly as before. I'm sure nobody residing in the buildings along The Shambles, in York, has to crap into a bucket and toss it out of the window. I don't, on the other hand, think the buildings there would look a million miles away in style from how they looked in the past.

Some of the style, of course, was more accidental than intential. Timber-frames and jettied upper stories weren't added because they looked nice. It just happened that they did.

Given your insistence that since then people have apparently favoured newer styles over the old, and even the populace called for the old buildings to be torn down, it would seem a trifle unusual for the same populace to replace those ugly old buildings with newer versions in another old style.

The proportion of half-timbered buildings to slums might have grown over time, but slums they replaced would not have ever been a style that was popular.


And as I've already said, the old poor buildings would have been slum dwellings. The ugly modern buildings were showcases of the new style. That's a big difference. They were meant to be impressive, but failed completely.


Conversely, modernism was very good at designing small individual houses, and few who have lived in one would ever crave a traditional two-up two-down terraced house.


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I did mention before that in the 18th century, the leading architects, men of letters, men of taste, historians, artists, and art patrons would have said the same thing about the great Gothic cathedrals: that they were failures and as ugly as sin itself. And as I said previously, many Gothic structures were destroyed before the return to favor of the gothic style in the 19th century.

Would you now say that they were wrong? Or will you disagrere with them?
The rise of protestantism saw a kind of modernism applied to church design, as a statement about the excesses of catholicism, but were they driven by a religious zeal, or by pure aesthetics.

And as I've said before, does the fact that the "elites" are more likely to push these views, does it maybe make them the least likely people to judge objectively?

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What about the common man, you will ask?

Popular opinion simply followed the leading voices of the day. And you can see the condemnation of Gothic in popular broadsheets and in popular satires of the day. The populance mocked the lovers of Gothic as hopeless "ANTIQUARIANS". It is like people today making fun of individuals who dress in out-of-fashion attire.
The populace of the day could barely read, so it seems unlikely they be buying broadsheets.


The point you are missing is that there's a big difference between saying something is ugly, and saying it's old fashioned. Those cornflake pack office blocks andblocks of flats aren't ugly because they are outdated. They've always been ugly and unloved, except by architects.


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I think there is such a thing as an well-informed opinion and an opinion that is based on a passing whim or a passing preference, or is not based on anything at all. The "eye" is a tricky thing, and without a more substantial rationale, it is meaningless.

That is why we strive to discuss such matters in a more sophisticated and more well-informed manner.
Nonsense. You don't need to have a detailed understanding of modernism to have an opinion about whether this is an attractive building or not.



The very fact that modern design now puts a lot of emphasis on making buildings look as good as possible shows that the idea of decoration being superfluous has been rejected.
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Old August 26th, 2011, 01:16 AM   #232
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And as I've already said, the old poor buildings would have been slum dwellings. The ugly modern buildings were showcases of the new style. That's a big difference. They were meant to be impressive, but failed completely.
This is why I discussed the relativity of taste across the centuries: that what you call "ugly" is only ugly according to certain criteria or current/personal tastes, similar to the disavowal of Gothic in the 18th century.

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Conversely, modernism was very good at designing small individual houses, and few who have lived in one would ever crave a traditional two-up two-down terraced house.
True.

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The rise of protestantism saw a kind of modernism applied to church design, as a statement about the excesses of catholicism, but were they driven by a religious zeal, or by pure aesthetics.

And as I've said before, does the fact that the "elites" are more likely to push these views, does it maybe make them the least likely people to judge objectively?
Most would agree that Protestantism was driven by a neo-iconoclastic reaction to the use of "images in the round" and what they considered excessive representation of the saints in church art and architecture. This iconoclasm was shared by practically everyone: from the princes, to the religious scholars, to the populus of Protestantism.

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The populace of the day could barely read, so it seems unlikely they be buying broadsheets.
Broadsheets were illustrated with crude and amusing woodcuts, which made them very popular even with the unread. I know because I own quite a few myself. And the golden age of broadsheets was when the common man had a modicum of literacy compared to their medieval counterparts -- they were usually the target audience for many of these broadsheets.

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The point you are missing is that there's a big difference between saying something is ugly, and saying it's old fashioned. Those cornflake pack office blocks andblocks of flats aren't ugly because they are outdated. They've always been ugly and unloved, except by architects.
My point is that "ugly" is relative to time and place. 20 years ago, mid-century modern was considered ugly and dated. Today, it is directly the opposite.

Don't be too sure about what is "ugly" and what is not, especially in Art and Architecture. It takes some maturity (and in many cases, more than a little humility) to understand this.

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Nonsense. You don't need to have a detailed understanding of modernism to have an opinion about whether this is an attractive building or not.



The very fact that modern design now puts a lot of emphasis on making buildings look as good as possible shows that the idea of decoration being superfluous has been rejected.
See my above comment.
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Old August 26th, 2011, 02:22 AM   #233
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I think the above few exchanges are sufficient basis for other people/readers to judge what is and what is not.
Indeed it is a sufficient basis to see how modernists are incapable of answering for the inferiority of their architecture.

But I’d like to take it a bit further, and look at the objective aspects that separate modernism from successful architecture.


Hosted at Set Design Thinking

This is a pleasing, evocative place to shop. Not only does it fulfill its role (as a bookstore), but it does it with grace and beauty and meaning.


Hosted at home-designing.com

This? Well, it's clean and apparently functional, but beyond the brand, what is it? It's a box, and not much else. It seems open-ish, but not particularly inviting; it seems modestly scaled, but not intimate. Above all else, we cannot expect this architecture to endure, for it depends entirely on the novelty of the brand, as the supposed novelty of its aesthetic faded away half a century ago...which leaves us with a box.

Humans crave a higher degree of interaction with their environment than this. "Functional" is the minimum that a building should be...creating spaces that delight is a goal that cannot be ignored. So what we see here is that it's NOT "just a matter of taste"...instead, it's what a building is and how it relates to its viewer and user.
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Old August 26th, 2011, 05:05 PM   #234
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There is no accounting for good (or bad) taste. Only bias/preference... or in some instances, just plain prejudice or an unwillingness to consider other points of view.

--------------------------------------

Apple Store Upper West Side
James Russell

http://archpaper.com/news/articles.asp?id=4165



At 67th Street and Broadway, a pavilion of marble and sheer glass walls opened in November, a composition as austerely purposeful as a classic Greek temple. Is this elegant glass-roofed room the home of a cash-flush hedge fund? A Renzo museum?

It’s an Apple Store.

As retail reels in the recession and even established stores look like temporary pop-ups, Apple lavished expanses of Tennessee marble with end-matched vein patterns as soft as wisps of smoke. Because the store is that Manhattan rarity, a freestanding building, it is an even more alluring display of costly investment than the famous glass cube that tops the computer company’s underground store on Fifth Avenue. According to Ron Johnson, Apple’s senior vice-president of retail, these stores merit lavish outlays because “they are the most profitable.”



At a press preview, Johnson described the Broadway location as one of the company’s “significant” stores. (It’s not a “flagship,” a word Apple people utter with contempt, since other companies don’t approach store design with the steely obsession of Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO and co-founder.) Johnson said that Apple will continue to make architectural investments in “landmark” locations where there is “enormous activity, lots of street life,” such as along the busy Upper West Side corridor that runs from Columbus Circle to Lincoln Center.

According to Karl Backus, the principal-in-charge at architects Bohlin Cywinski Jackson who designed this and the two other significant Manhattan stores, Apple prefers to build one large selling room in order to “present the entire interior to the street.” The mullion-free glass walls ascend 40 feet high to meet the gently vaulted all-glass roof with an almost invisible joint. “That openness is the invitation,” Backus added.



The all-glass roof is an exercise in bravura minimalism, engineered by James O’Callaghan, of London-based Eckersley O’Callaghan. He mounted fritted, insulating- glass panels on thin metal purlins that incorporate lighting, and (invisibly) sprinklers and security systems. Elegant trusses cross under, with tension cables picked out in machined stainless steel. All that glass bathes the room in sunlight. Shadows move slowly across the uninterrupted expanses of marble. The room feels as diaphanous as a bubble.

Ventilating grilles? Ick. Stone floor panels are perforated to supply air. To all but banish untidy cashier counters, 30 or so red-T-shirted associates swarm the floor, each brandishing a checkout device built from an iPod Touch. (Cash drawers concealed in display counters handle old-economy cash.)

The help desk, the shelves of accessories—anything even slightly messy—have all been banished to the basement. Even the iconic spiral glass stair, a spectacular engineering feat all its own, barely registers at street level. (To keep those stairs pristine, Apple replaces the glass treads when they show wear. And human window washers, not high-tech gizmos, will scrub the roof of pigeon defilements.)

With such attention to detail, the space feels stripped of artifice. Everything about it seems as inevitable as the iPhone’s touch screen. The blocky, blond-wood display tables become the center of attention, with products set out as if exhibited in a museum. No one at the famously secretive Apple would say how much the store cost, nor describe the design process. “We have always succeeded by first doing the right thing,” was all Johnson would say. “The profits have followed.” Aggressive plans to open more stores are in the works.

Architects at Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, which is based in Wilkes Barre, PA, work closely with the company out of its San Francisco office, but are not store-design specialists. The firm’s *award-winning portfolio ranges widely, which suggests why the stores don’t look like they fit the standard retail-design mold.

Apple is that rare retailer that has learned to use means more fundamental to architecture than retail to powerfully extend its brand. As ever, an authoritative orchestration of space, light, and materials is a winning combination.

--------------------------------------

And for the record, I have been to this store several times in the evenings, not to buy apple products, but to attend concerts and piano recitals. The proximity of Lincoln Center partly accounts for this. But there is no denying that the space is surprisingly good as a concert venue for some types of chamber recitals.

What the architecture of this store very effectively accomplishes is:

- It brings the outside to the people indoors. Wonderful light in the daytime, and the views around Lincoln Square (with the green margins and neighborhood bustle) makes it feel like an outdoor venue on the Atrium level.

- Obviously, it draws the outside in. People invariably STOP to admire the Apple products from the sidewalk, and many are indeed drawn in. This is certainly VERY effective commercial design. But when concerts are playing, strollers also can't help but stop and watch, as if they were attending an impromptu street concert.

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Old August 26th, 2011, 06:20 PM   #235
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interesting topic. For me modernism absolutely failed to create cities that are alive. The best example is the city I live in, Rotterdam the Netherlands. The coldblooded modernism architectures havent tried to creat beautiful buildings that could last for more than a decade. Rotterdam is one of the most whealty cities in the world, but the streets are grey. If you would ask the people in the streets, They will underline this. Utrecht, Haarlem are known for their beauty in The Netherlands. And that is because they have a historical downtown.
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Old August 26th, 2011, 07:04 PM   #236
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interesting topic. For me modernism absolutely failed to create cities that are alive.
That is the problem of the city fathers and planners.

Look at NYC. Do you think the sometimes violent juxtaposition of modern and old in this city makes it any less alive? It's the opposite.
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Old August 26th, 2011, 07:55 PM   #237
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interesting topic. For me modernism absolutely failed to create cities that are alive. The best example is the city I live in, Rotterdam the Netherlands. The coldblooded modernism architectures havent tried to creat beautiful buildings that could last for more than a decade. Rotterdam is one of the most whealty cities in the world, but the streets are grey. If you would ask the people in the streets, They will underline this. Utrecht, Haarlem are known for their beauty in The Netherlands. And that is because they have a historical downtown.
The reason Rotterdam looks like this is 'wederopbouw architectuur'. There simply wasn't enough money and time to create housing for everyone after WO II. This isn't to blame on modernism, the result would be same at with any other design theory: outdated buildings within 40 years.

To get back on-topic: A city full of modernism probably won't work, a city full of classic buildings won't work either. What makes a city a good city is a mixture of buildings that work like a timeline and shows the history of the city.

Has modernism failed? No.
An important aspect on architecture is time and more specifically the society. This is far more important than 'styles' (what ever that may be) are.
Modernism was the era of 'Architecture without architects', we wanted to built our buildings like we created machines, because machines where getting important at that time.

The simple answer (in my opinion) is that modernism is out dated, just like po-mo is getting out dated, just like our new era will be out dated at one point (ecogolism, engineer without engineers, green architecture, how ever you'd like to call it)
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Old August 26th, 2011, 09:06 PM   #238
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Most would agree that Protestantism was driven by a neo-iconoclastic reaction to the use of "images in the round" and what they considered excessive representation of the saints in church art and architecture. This iconoclasm was shared by practically everyone: from the princes, to the religious scholars, to the populus of Protestantism.
The question there though isn't one of pure aesthetics. It was a change of opinion about how buildings should be decorated. That doesn't mean those gothic cathedrals were seen as ugly in the way the Guys Hospital is.

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Broadsheets were illustrated with crude and amusing woodcuts, which made them very popular even with the unread. I know because I own quite a few myself. And the golden age of broadsheets was when the common man had a modicum of literacy compared to their medieval counterparts -- they were usually the target audience for many of these broadsheets.
So these crude woodcuts often covered architectural tastes, I presume?

I would still suggest that wherever buildings from the 1600s or so were replaced by older buildings, they were replaced primarily because they'd fallen into disrepair, or were regarded as fire-hazards, not because they were thought of as ugly.

Quote:
My point is that "ugly" is relative to time and place. 20 years ago, mid-century modern was considered ugly and dated. Today, it is directly the opposite.
"Dated" and "ugly" are entirely different concepts. Mid-centrurn modern buildings might have seemed a bit dated, just as any "futuristic" concept always does in hindsight, but they weren't really regarded as ugly eyesores in the way that the terrible modernist stuff could be.


If there was ever a time when people actually liked buildings like Guys Hospital, it was an incredibly short time. Sometimes people can be a little blinded by the novelty of newness, but the veil tends to drop pretty quickly.


The post-war bombed out ruins gave architects and town planners a unique chance to sweep away the old and embrace the new modernist ideals. The UK now has the ugliest cities in Europe as a result. At least the Germans were, on the whole, smart enough to realise that value of what was there before.


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Don't be too sure about what is "ugly" and what is not, especially in Art and Architecture. It takes some maturity (and in many cases, more than a little humility) to understand this.
So what's your mature and humble opinion of Birmingham city centre and Guys Hospital as shown in those photos?
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Old August 26th, 2011, 09:16 PM   #239
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I don't like minimalism in shops. It always makes me feel like I'm intruding and being watched, and it does look something of a goldfish bowl from the outside, which is also a little unsettling, but I do think that's a good building.

It's interesting. It probably works better from the inside than outside, but I can see it tempting people in whatever it's selling.
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Old August 26th, 2011, 09:20 PM   #240
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I don't like minimalism in shops. It always makes me feel like I'm intruding and being watched, and it does look something of a goldfish bowl from the outside, which is also a little unsettling, but I do think that's a good building.

It's interesting. It probably works better from the inside than outside, but I can see it tempting people in whatever it's selling.

Not to like it is perfectly fine. I guess however we feel about the store, it does do the job of drawing them inside. The fact that you can browse from the outside helps...
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