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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 26th, 2011, 09:32 PM   #241
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@Rev Stickleback
For me it works the best. I don't like shopping. In a minimalist shop you find easier what you want. Grab and go, that is the way I like to shop. I like to have an overview.

For me as person modernism fit the best to my nature. Open spaces, you can avoid humans, and less decoration. The more decoration the uglier it is for me in general. As a kid I like only modernist/functionalist buildings/things etc. I have learn to like other styles. But when I visited a city dominated by classical architecture I have always have to go to a modernist area after some days. Visa versa I don't have it.

Calling modernism coldblooded is stupid in my eyes. Not any building or thing or what ever created by humans have a heart.
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Old August 26th, 2011, 10:02 PM   #242
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So these crude woodcuts often covered architectural tastes, I presume?
A few mocked the lovers of Gothic and the Picturesque styles as foolish antiquarians. In one, they are made to look like owls...

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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.
Well, if "ugly" is too strong a word, then we should say that many structures were replaced because they were outdated.

Many of the English Great Houses from the 18th century were built to replace earlier medieval and Tudor structures that were promptly demolished to make way for the more fashionable successors. Nothing of Elizabethan Chatsworth remains. The same can be said of medieval Pentworth. Etc.

It also happened the other way around: 18th classical structures were demolished to make way for more fashionable replacements. Perhaps the most spectacular example of this is Fonthill Splendens, the magnificent Palladian mansion of the Elder Beckford whose original plans and elevations can still be appreciated in the pages of Vitruvius Britannicus -- it was completely destroyed by the son, William Beckford, who built the famous Fonthill Abbey as a replacement.

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"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.
Well, "dated" and "ugly" are distinct, but they have been so intertwined in the minds of many past and present. For many people in the 18th century, Gothic was dated AND ugly.

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So what's your mature and humble opinion of Birmingham city centre and Guys Hospital as shown in those photos?
Frankly, I don't care much for them, although I should say that I know quite a few people in the UK who actually like them.

I would not dismiss them outright as "ugly", in the same way that I would not dismiss the Forum des Halles in Paris is "ugly". They are not to my taste. To each, his/her own.

Things change. Things don't last forever. Would you consider that terrible, or consoling?
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Old August 26th, 2011, 11:28 PM   #243
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Originally Posted by hayes88
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.
Very well said. I always found this passage interesting, and I think it relates to what you're saying:

The abiding image is of young German and Japanese architects unloading from their coaches, peering in through the great glass wall of Cambridge's History Faculty Building and snapping away frenetically, while students and staff trapped in the cage froze or fried, according to the season.

On James Stirling's architecture

Members of architecture's inner circles can't get enough of modernism, and yet the people who actually use modernist buildings can't get away fast enough. It's the truly tragic contradiction of the field, that architects are actively going against what most people desire.

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Originally Posted by de flatneuroot
Calling modernism coldblooded is stupid in my eyes. Not any building or thing or what ever created by humans have a heart.
You think so? No building can have a heart? No building can feel like home, no building can be an oasis of calm, no building can inject a bit of beauty into one's daily routine? Well, if you ask me, everything worthwhile in this world goes beyond pure function...a good meal doesn't just provide nutrition, a great outfit doesn't just keep you warm in winter.

People have hearts...and we strive to express that humanity in most everything we do. Why not do the same with our built environment?

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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.
The irony here is that in spite of your focus on "prejudice", you keep repeating these buzzwords without justifying them. Architecture isn't "just a matter of taste", it involves principles of design, it involves relationship to users and viewers, it involves the biophilia of a building. Since modernism ignores all these things, it fails to create beautiful, enduring spaces...regardless of taste.

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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.
That's quite useless. If you want to enjoy the outside environment, then go outside. It's really that simple. You don't need the building you're standing in to try to trick you into thinking you're outside (when you're obviously not)...just walk out the door.

As I said, take away the brand and what are you left with? A glass box and a few plain walls...not a complete, satisfying building.
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Old August 27th, 2011, 12:34 AM   #244
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To tpe: I agree with you. Perhaps Rotterdam has too much 'open' places in the city. This kills the dynamic aspect of the city.

To Flyingdutchman (leuke naam, ik wilde me zo registreren): After the second world war there was indeed a necessity to create alot simplistic buildings. But this continued even after economic prosperity. I further agree with you on the different taste of people. (although I encounter more people who are negative on the architecure in the Netherlands than those who are in favour of these styles). But still, the most beautiful buildings according the inhabitants are: de kuip, the city hall, de grote kerk, all are non modern buildings.

To Kaligraffi:
Quote:
Members of architecture's inner circles can't get enough of modernism, and yet the people who actually use modernist buildings can't get away fast enough. It's the truly tragic contradiction of the field, that architects are actively going against what most people desire.
This is exactly the problem of Rotterdam, and perhaps more places.
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Old August 27th, 2011, 01:02 AM   #245
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That's quite useless. If you want to enjoy the outside environment, then go outside. It's really that simple. You don't need the building you're standing in to try to trick you into thinking you're outside (when you're obviously not)...just walk out the door.
Have you ever enjoyed a view through a window while being indoors?

How many real estate properties sell because they take advantage of good views? If that is useless, then useless is a good thing.

Silly.
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Old August 27th, 2011, 01:09 AM   #246
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To tpe: I agree with you. Perhaps Rotterdam has too much 'open' places in the city. This kills the dynamic aspect of the city.
Thanks. As for Rotterdam, there are problems that go beyond questions of architecture.
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Old August 27th, 2011, 02:27 AM   #247
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Yes they were, almost exclusively so. Pleasing plebs with beauty never came into equation. Infact beauty was something of a by-product, the purpose of grand public buildings was - to assert ones authority, to advertise and celebrate ones achievements and to gain favour (ie with an Emperor). Its symbolism that mattered.

Grid plan of Pompeii and Ostia is the only difference. Roman urban landscape consisted of narrow streets lined with tall blank walls, while here and there stood grand building and all around was a hive of activity. Similarities are even to be found inside.

This is a typical middle-class Roman house -

image hosted on flickr

Pompeii
by EricP2x, on Flickr

Typical Roman street -

image hosted on flickr

Pompeii
by EricP2x, on Flickr

Note the total lack of exterior decoration and imagine this painted white (it would have been so in the old days), then tell me its nothing like modernist buildings (ie the one I posted).
I guess you have never heard of frescoes and mosaics. If you claim that Roman buildings in their own time looked like the pictures you posted you have proved yourself to be either a deceiver or at least self deceived. Here are just a few images of roman frescoes or just Google "Roman frescoes" and "Roman mosaics".

Ignoring erosion over time and volcanic damage also adds to the distrust in your statements. Did you seriously not contemplate the damage of 18 centuries of erosion on the villa and 400 degree hot volcanic ash rushing at 100 miles and hour burning the plaster off Pompeii's walls? If you did not then nothing you say can be trusted.

One of the main things that ancient Rome is famous for, is its highly decorated architecture. Of course the poor did not have that, just like today. Today's poor/lower-middle class, live in simple homes or apartments while the rich live in elaborate mansions or highrise condo's. The rich work in beautiful highrise offices many times elaborately decorated by expensive interior designers while the working underclass work in simple cubicles or undecorated factories.

Anyway, if you want to make a point be honest about it and don't twist the truth to fit your perspective because you are more in love with your perspective over the facts of reality.

I'm responding this aggressively as a result of the pomposity of this, and previous statements you've made here and in other places. You act like an expert yet it is your own very words and examples that clearly show you don't comprehend what you think you know, as well as you assume you know it.
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Old August 27th, 2011, 12:19 PM   #248
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You think so? No building can have a heart? No building can feel like home, no building can be an oasis of calm, no building can inject a bit of beauty into one's daily routine? Well, if you ask me, everything worthwhile in this world goes beyond pure function...a good meal doesn't just provide nutrition, a great outfit doesn't just keep you warm in winter.
Of course but such things are personal. It is in our minds. All thing created by humans are live less.
I call modernist buildings and functionalist things, charming, relaxing, warm etc. And I found baroque architecture aggressive/intimidating but it is my personal honest feelings. It counts only for myself.
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Old August 27th, 2011, 12:21 PM   #249
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The fact that people are comparing Roman and Medieval slums (poorly built mud and brick buildings that were designed not to look like anything) to modernism which was built by world- famous architects with all the money, materials and technology they could imagine at their disposal, really says it all.

Last edited by Mr Bricks; August 28th, 2011 at 12:26 PM.
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Old August 27th, 2011, 02:54 PM   #250
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Originally Posted by de flatneuroot
Of course but such things are personal. It is in our minds. All thing created by humans are live less.
I call modernist buildings and functionalist things, charming, relaxing, warm etc. And I found baroque architecture aggressive/intimidating but it is my personal honest feelings. It counts only for myself.
I'm just wondering, would you say you prefer the CBS Building to the Chrysler Building? Why or why not? Again I'm just curious.

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Have you ever enjoyed a view through a window while being indoors?

How many real estate properties sell because they take advantage of good views? If that is useless, then useless is a good thing.

Silly.
There is a distinct difference between framing a view and exposing it nakedly. One adds nuance and complexity to a building, the other is unimaginative and bland. After all, looking out through a window is far, far more evocative than merely looking past it.
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Old August 27th, 2011, 03:00 PM   #251
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I'm just wondering, would you say you prefer the CBS Building to the Chrysler Building? Why or why not? Again I'm just curious.

Yes. I like the lines in the building. The Chrysler Building is not ugly i.m.o. I can appreciate it but the CBS gives me warmer feelings.
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Old August 27th, 2011, 04:08 PM   #252
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The fact that people are comparing Roman and Medieval slums (poorly built mud and brick buildings that were not designed to look like anything) to modernism which was built by world- famous architects with all the money, materials and technology they could imagine at their disposal, really says it all.
Please read the discussion before commenting: doing otherwise is irresponsible.

The point being made was that the average streetscapes of today (i.e., those lined with regular dwellings) are no worse than those of the past. On average, they are most likely better today than during the halycon days of the Roman Empire.

Had you read the discussions, THAT point would have been OBVIOUS.

And may I remind some posters here again that the majority of inhabitants of the Empire could not have afforded frescoes, much less what some of you consider as classic architecture.

Last edited by tpe; August 27th, 2011 at 04:21 PM.
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Old August 27th, 2011, 04:13 PM   #253
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There is a distinct difference between framing a view and exposing it nakedly. One adds nuance and complexity to a building, the other is unimaginative and bland. After all, looking out through a window is far, far more evocative than merely looking past it.
What exactly do you mean by "exposing it nakedly"? This is imprecise and vague, and quite frankly, does not inspire confidence in an argument. Simply put: a view is exposed, or not exposed. Why this talk of nakedness?

If you have an opinion, that is fine. Just say it is a personal preference and be done with it. But do not clothe it in terminologies meant to provide seemingly rigorous rationales when in fact, they are not rational or rigorous at all.

Last edited by tpe; August 27th, 2011 at 04:59 PM.
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Old August 27th, 2011, 05:03 PM   #254
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Of course but such things are personal. It is in our minds. All thing created by humans are live less.
I call modernist buildings and functionalist things, charming, relaxing, warm etc. And I found baroque architecture aggressive/intimidating but it is my personal honest feelings. It counts only for myself.
Very well put.
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Old August 27th, 2011, 08:55 PM   #255
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Well, if "ugly" is too strong a word, then we should say that many structures were replaced because they were outdated.

Many of the English Great Houses from the 18th century were built to replace earlier medieval and Tudor structures that were promptly demolished to make way for the more fashionable successors. Nothing of Elizabethan Chatsworth remains. The same can be said of medieval Pentworth. Etc.
That's a big difference though. A replacement for an outdated building doesn't imply at all that the original was thought of as ugly in style.

Another big difference is that modernism seems to be the only building style said to ruin the look of cities in comparison to the buildings it replaced.

We aren't looking back at town centres full of giant concrete conflake packets as once loved but now mocked styles of an old era. They are viewed as an experiment gone badly wrong. The whole idea of what buildings of the future and city centres of the future should look like, as planned post-war, has pretty much been binned.

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Frankly, I don't care much for them, although I should say that I know quite a few people in the UK who actually like them.
Do they actually like them aesthetically, or just architecturally?

In a previous reply you spoke of appreciation of art and architecture. The the two are very different concepts. Art exists in isolation, to be judged purely on its own merits. Architecture, might be artistic, but its not art. It doesn't exist purely to be appreciated for its achievment and innovation. It's how it impacts on the people who use and view the building, and its harmony with its surroundings, that makes such a difference.


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Things change. Things don't last forever. Would you consider that terrible, or consoling?
Change is change. That it happens in evitable and of little concern. It's how it changes that's important.

If something old is replaced by something better, than people are pleased. People might be nostalgic for the old Sinclair Spectrums etc, but none would trade in their iPad for one.

It's only when something gets replaced by something inferior that people complain.
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Old August 27th, 2011, 09:42 PM   #256
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That's a big difference though. A replacement for an outdated building doesn't imply at all that the original was thought of as ugly in style.

Another big difference is that modernism seems to be the only building style said to ruin the look of cities in comparison to the buildings it replaced.

We aren't looking back at town centres full of giant concrete conflake packets as once loved but now mocked styles of an old era. They are viewed as an experiment gone badly wrong. The whole idea of what buildings of the future and city centres of the future should look like, as planned post-war, has pretty much been binned.

This all comes down to a matter of taste, do you agree?

Or do you believe in such a thing in an absolute canon of beauty?


Quote:
Do they actually like them aesthetically, or just architecturally?
As I said, I don't care that much for them. Certainly, I don't particularly care for them aesthetically. Architecturally, there is certainly much more there than meets the eye. But one can certainly appreciate something architecturally without being attracted to them aesthetically.

Quote:
In a previous reply you spoke of appreciation of art and architecture. The the two are very different concepts. Art exists in isolation, to be judged purely on its own merits. Architecture, might be artistic, but its not art. It doesn't exist purely to be appreciated for its achievment and innovation. It's how it impacts on the people who use and view the building, and its harmony with its surroundings, that makes such a difference.
To a point. Good architecture is art. A lot of great art is architectonic, be it painting, sculpture, music, or whatever medium.


Quote:
Change is change. That it happens in evitable and of little concern. It's how it changes that's important.

If something old is replaced by something better, than people are pleased. People might be nostalgic for the old Sinclair Spectrums etc, but none would trade in their iPad for one.

It's only when something gets replaced by something inferior that people complain.
"Better" is seen thorugh the mirror of one's personal preferences. "Better" is seen through the tastes and bias/prejudices of one's times.

As I asked: do you adhere to an absolute canon of beauty by which everything can be judged and measured? Would you say that classical Roman art and architecture is superior to, say, Japanese art and architecture during the Heian period?

Last edited by tpe; August 27th, 2011 at 10:10 PM.
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Old August 28th, 2011, 12:00 AM   #257
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What exactly do you mean by "exposing it nakedly"? This is imprecise and vague, and quite frankly, does not inspire confidence in an argument. Simply put: a view is exposed, or not exposed. Why this talk of nakedness?
It's not too difficult to understand. Here are some visual helpers. First, a few framed views:


Hosted at Sacred-Destinations.com


image hosted on flickr

Hosted at Flickriver.com

Next, a view that is merely exposed:


Hosted at My Technicolor Canvas

That should give you a general idea of what I'm talking about. The framed view, however framed, carries more potency than one that is displayed with no eye to artistic detail. The former interacts with the view and enhances it, makes it richer; the latter adds absolutely nothing to the experience of the viewer. Framed views play with perspective and with light and shadow; exposed views don't.

When a view is framed, one senses that one is looking through the fabric of a building, from a unique position in the world. When this principle is not followed, the character of the view is lost, and one might as well be standing outside.

Quote:
If you have an opinion, that is fine. Just say it is a personal preference and be done with it. But do not clothe it in terminologies meant to provide seemingly rigorous rationales when in fact, they are not rational or rigorous at all.
Don't get frustrated just because you're unable to honestly discuss architectural principles.
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Old August 28th, 2011, 12:40 AM   #258
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Next, a view that is merely exposed:
No, I do not see what makes this "merely" exposed. Are you implying that an unobstructed view is inferior to a more obstructed one?

So, you would say that the glass windows of Hardwick Hall "merely exposes" the view, compared to, say, the marble lattices of Agra or Lahore?, which enhance their views? With so many of the elaborate screens, you can barely see through them in the first place. That is because their primary objective was to curtail the harsh light in those climes, and soften the glare in the interiors. (In more Northern climes, the object was to bring in more light.)

As I said: these are not principles. They are a matter of taste (or are they mere quibbles based on blind prejudice?), and you make them look like absolutes. That a mullioned window is superior to a mullion-free one is certainly not an absolute.

The fact is: that the glass "walls" of the Great Gallery of Hardwick exposes the view so "nakedly" () compared to elaborate lattices and screens of earlier periods is universally considered one of its greatest truimphs. Bess of Hardwick has been known to have cited that if they could make her great single panes of glass, then she would have dispensed with walls altogether!

To be sure, if the ancients had the technological know-how to create great mullion-free glass windows, they probably would have used it extensively -- whether or not it exposed the view so "nakedly".

And finally: your use of the term "naked" will most definitely be frowned upon in professional circles. It is vague/imprecise and has a slight whiff of the ridiculous about it.

Last edited by tpe; August 28th, 2011 at 01:22 AM.
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Old August 28th, 2011, 12:50 AM   #259
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This all comes down to a matter of taste, do you agree?

Or do you believe in such a thing in an absolute canon of beauty?
There are people capable of adoring those that most think only a mother could love. They are just in a very small minority. You can respect their right to choose. You just wouldn't want them setting up blind dates for you.


Quote:
As I said, I don't care that much for them. Certainly, I don't particularly care for them aesthetically. Architecturally, there is certainly much more there than meets the eye. But one can certainly appreciate something architecturally without being attracted to them aesthetically.
...which is kind of my point. To reject the opinions of those who judge buildings on their asthetics, purely because they don't judge them on architectural merit, makes you a bad judge of aesthetics.

Like my example earlier, someone who prefers a Jack Vettriano over a Jackson Pollock may be a poor judge of art, but it doesn't make that person wrong to say the former is a more aesthetic picture.


Quote:
To a point. Good architecture is art. A lot of great art is architectonic, be it painting, sculpture, music, or whatever medium.
Art is just to be admired. Buildings are to be lived in and with. That adds a whole new dimension.

I said earlier. I grew up in a new town. I can see what the town planners were trying to achieve.

Bracknell Town centre has central square. It's always been blocky and ugly. Take a step back though, and and you can see that this square was his modern take on a traditional town square, with a bandstand at one end, enclosing the space. I'm sure on his drawings, it was full of happy smiling people sitting at cafes and bars, enjoying the experience, and enjoying this modern town. Of course the reality is that there were no cafes and bars lining the square. In was full of shoe shops, a branch of Dixons, stationery shops, jewellers, estate agents...i.e. places that didn't cause anyone to linger, maiking the "plaza" a concrete expanse that you'd only cross to reach the other side, and which would be completely deserted come 5.30 when the shutters came down.

It was a bold vision. It failed, and was brutally ugly. There's been at least 20 years of concerted efforts at turd polishing since then, but it is still susan boyle in a nice dress with make up.


You can see a similar thing with the tower blocks that replaced the terraced housing post-war. It was really thought that the concrete walkways would be "streets in the sky" recreating the streets and communities people had once known. Instead, they were barren, cold places, anonymous and unwelcoming.

If an ugly building performs its job well, then that a svaing grace, just as a good-looking building that doesn't do its job well will have its foibles glossed over. But when a building neither looks good nor functions well, what is its saving grace? Architechts may fondly remember the bold vision for tower block living, but they never had to live in one.


Quote:
"Better" is seen thorugh the mirror of one's personal preferences. "Better" is seen through the tastes and bias/prejudices of one's times.
But wouldn't people prefer the modern to the outdated?

Why did that not happen with the rebuilt cities post war? Shouldn't we all be loving the modern style, not the old stuff?

Quote:
As I asked: do you adhere to an absolute canon of beauty by which everything can be judged and measured? Would you say that classical Roman art and architecture is superior to, say, Japanese art and architecture during the Heian period?
That's an entirely different kind of question. It'd be more like asking if a tudor inn is more attractive than a Gerogian townhouse, which yes, is a matter of taste.

And ultimately it is all a matter of taste, unless you purely rate all building by their architectural significance, in which case Bracknell probably rates more highly than Cambridge for architectural merit.


Even if it is a matter of taste, that still doesn't make all views equal. I mean, I can look at one of those FHM 100 Sexiest Women and disagree with the results. That doesn't mean I think it would be equally right to have Dawn French in there becase some men like a woman with a bit of meat on her.


Matter of taste or not, if there's anyone out there who can honestly rate these three skylines and not put Birmingham 3rd, then I'd be amazed.





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Old August 28th, 2011, 01:13 AM   #260
kaligraffi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tpe View Post
No, I do not see what makes this "merely" exposed.
Well that's to be expected, because you don't see anything of note at all. No one does. That's the point.

As for your example of Hardwick Hall, unfortunately for you the facts don't agree:


Hosted at viewpictures.co.uk

Clearly we see here that the windows of Hardwick do frame views instead of blandly displaying them. There's no continuous stretch of nondescript glass panes here.

Quote:
The fact is: that the glass "walls" of the Great Gallery of Hardwick exposes the view so "nakedly" () compared to elaborate lattices and screens is universally considered one of its greatest truimphs. Bess of Hardwick has been known to have cited that if they could make her great single panes of glass, then she would have dispensed with walls altogether!
"Coulda woulda shoulda" doesn't substitute for a substantive architectural critique. As it stands, Hardwick Hall doesn't have the vacuous views of modernist architecture, so you'll have to deal with that before moving on. That's the difference between an analysis that has to do with reality and a statement blinded by ideology.

But just to move one more step ahead of you, were a plan for continuous glass done, then it would surely have reduced the character of the entire building.
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