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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 4th, 2014, 11:40 PM   #481
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That buildings are beautiful for me, they have soul and character

That is cold soulless box for me

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Old August 4th, 2014, 11:48 PM   #482
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iluminat View Post
Which old buildings? Most buildings until recently (XIX century or so) were made of wood and some cheaper materials like mud etc. most of them didn't survive to our times.
XIX century? Paris and Amsterdam with more thousands buildings from XVII century?
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Old August 5th, 2014, 12:36 AM   #483
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Modernism has most definitely been a failure, and because of it the whole architecture profession is now in decline. What was once the art of designing beautiful buildings has devolved into a contest to see who can design the weirdest shaped glass container, and to see who can get published in the professional journals. I hear too often that "you can't build like that anymore." In fact, if it was built in the past is proof that it can be done. We should not only be capable of building like the past, we should be better at it. Such was the case for thousands of years of architectural history. Only within the last 100 or so years we find ourselves unable to build like we used to build. How pathetic is it that some of the most beautiful small towns were built by non-architects, ordinary people not trained in architectural design, and all of it is by far better than anything most architects could conceive of today? Most architects disguise their inability to design beautiful traditional buildings by claiming a desire to design buildings that are "of their time" or built for today. Instead, buildings should be built for ALL time; a building built for today is soon out-of-date for tomorrow. Architects are afraid of designing traditional buildings because they think that they would be moving in reverse of progress, and they ridicule those that try by labeling it "phony colonial" or "faux historical" or "pastiche," but in fact, the most progressive thing that architects can do today would be to reclaim the classical language of architecture and the traditional craft of building, and apply it with today's building technology and materials. You cannot get smarter if everything that is learned requires a purge of some past prior knowledge.
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Old August 5th, 2014, 12:49 AM   #484
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Most (all?) people here are ignoring the elephant in the room in this discussion:

Most of the pre-modernist buildings we all like and cherish were designed with a heavy emphasis on pedestrians, as well as on space and energy efficiency (due to limitations associated with the era). In contrast, the vast majority of our modernist heritage came around at a time when governments prioritised decentralisation and private motor vehicles, when there was an urgency to house the poor, and when electricity and space were in abundance.

When you hold modernist architects to planning standards that prioritise pedestrians, medium consistent heights, high densities, energy efficiency, etc. You get places that look like these:







You may have whatever preferences you like, but those are still very functional neighbourhoods.

Berlin probably has the best examples worldwide, streetsview its 'suburbs' to see how they have created beautiful mostly modernist functional cities and neighbourhoods that rival any other around the world.

Modernist architecture is not a failure. But modernist 'car-oriented' planning most certainly is.
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Old August 5th, 2014, 01:03 PM   #485
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@Iluminat, yes that's the kind of thing I'm talking about. I don't see anything beautiful about that.

-----

Let's not forget that in the old days many people were judged on superficial image and that there was terrible inequality, so rich people overdecorated their buildings. Nowadays it doesn't work like that. Government buildings, churches, and palaces were especially gaudy and pompous to show power.

There is also the generation issue. People growing up during the modernist era will not see a historic connection, just as Parisians growing up with the Eiffel Tower thought it ugly, people growing up with neoclassics in the 19th century thought them fake and unoriginal, and people growing up during construction of gothic cathedrals called them, well, 'Gothic', barbaric.

I assume most people here grew up in the 60s-80s, so they don't see their architecture as valuable, whereas I am from the 90s and I see 'mid-century-modern' as an old style that should be respected.

I like abstract shapes, clean lines, simplicity, use of light and pattern, and space in design, whereas many classicists deliberately restrict that from their minds with the pseudo-scientific excuse of them not being " human." It seems pretty ignorant to even assume what the masses like or don't like, not to mention it's wrong to say that all humans don't naturally like modern architecture.

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Old August 5th, 2014, 01:21 PM   #486
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@MRouchell you can say that today's architects compete for the most abstract shapes, but the architects of the past did the exact same thing. Competed for the most overdecorated, pompous, frilly and superficial designs with the hope that the richest and most powerful client will choose theirs.
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Old August 5th, 2014, 03:42 PM   #487
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You're putting words into people's mouth, again.

Hardly anyone will deny there's very nice and unique modernist architecture that should be respected and saved at all costs. In fact some that got torn down should be reconstructed if possible. But these buildings are a minority. Whereas in classical architecture, lasting architecture that was and will be saved for centuries is a majority.

In fact, some of them are indeed "frozen in time" (quoting steppenwolf), as people are aware that current architect generations aren't able to live up to the legacy. That might change in the future, but I'm not too optimistic here. Perhaps when architects finally rediscover what makes traditional architecture so durable, timeless and perfectly imperfect - beautiful.
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Old August 5th, 2014, 04:14 PM   #488
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I don't think it's that much of a majority. Especially in Europe where city centers are full of them.

Many old modernist buildings have been neglected or restored poorly because there was no historical connection yet, as least not a few decades ago. Give them a restoration that acknowledges the fact that it is a modernist design (so no pastiche or postmodernist junk on it) and opinions will improve. It's happened before.

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Old August 5th, 2014, 04:30 PM   #489
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You can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig.

You can gold-plate a turd, but it's still a turd.

You can...
Alright, got it.
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Old August 5th, 2014, 04:35 PM   #490
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That phrase is overrated.
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Old August 5th, 2014, 04:39 PM   #491
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Buildings don't have a "soul", neither do cities.

I cringe at this anthropomorphication of buildings and neighborhoods. They are a collection of engineering structures that might or might not seem pleasant to eye of the onlooker, but they don't have innate human attributes to them, at least not on the large scale of analysis suggested here (whole areas or even whole cities).
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Old August 5th, 2014, 04:41 PM   #492
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Online survey on architectural preferences strikingly in favour of tradtional style

Cities, buildings certainly have a unique character to them, Suburbanist. A very own atmosphere. Just as automobiles and other items often have a unique design and character. You're being ridiculous if you disregard emotional aspects. Oh, most architects do that nowadays - there you go...


Btw, to finally get away from all the guesswork. Here's an online survey from 2009 on architectural preferences:

"People prefer traditionally designed buildings" - YouGov Survey


Adam

In a YouGov survey to determine whether the public prefers traditional or contemporary buildings, a massive 77% of respondents who selected a design, from a choice of 4, chose traditional architecture over contemporary styles. Only 23% chose contemporary buildings. Previous surveys have consistently shown that traditional homes are more popular with the public. This is the first time that a survey has been conducted to find out the people’s preference in relation to non-residential buildings.

Coming just three days in advance of The Stirling Prize announcement on 17th October 2009, these results will add fuel to the traditional versus contemporary design debate which has been simmering all year. Since its inception the Stirling Prize has been awarded exclusively to contemporary styled buildings even though new traditional buildings have been recognised for outstanding architecture by other national award givers.

Robert Adam, director of traditional practice Robert Adam Architects, said of the YouGov result:

“Architects have been forced to accept that most people like traditionally designed houses because this has been proved over and over again in surveys. But no one had tested the water properly with non-residential buildings. Now we know that the public preference is for traditionally styled offices and public buildings as well. I don’t suppose that it will change how most architects design but now at least they know that they’re doing it in the face of popular disapproval. People made to look foolish by objecting will know that they are not alone. Architects should be designing for the people who have to live with their buildings and so let’s hope that they do take notice. Being traditional doesn’t mean you can’t be original and modern.

Previous surveys include Attitudes & Decision Making among Home Buyers, prepared for CABE, WWF & HBOS, by Mulholland Research & Consulting, 2004 Design For Homes Popular Housing Research, Perceptions of Privacy & Density in Housing, by Mulholland Research, published by The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, 2003.

Source: http://www.dezeen.com/2009/10/16/peo...ldings-yougov/
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Old August 5th, 2014, 04:43 PM   #493
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Sticking to tradition is automatically renouncing the wild possibilities that modern technology in materials, design and construction bring. It is like is someone had the knowledge to build an airplane to travel afar, but decide to stick to bicycles that took 2 years to ride between Europe and Southeast Asia.

Since lay people are not versed on modern possibilities of civil engineering, it is up for architects and engineers to push to the public modern designs that defy centuries of limitations that we have overcome on the relatively recent past.

People will get used to it over time, like they did with processed food, radiotherapy, flight, electricity and other conveniences of the industrial age.
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Old August 5th, 2014, 04:46 PM   #494
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Maybe not souls, but they can have character and identity, which some people wrongly assume modernist designs are incapable of having. Some can even have character from a certain time frame, such as 60s character if they have linear motifs, wood panel walls, starbursts, checker tiles and Saarinen-style furniture.

Ask an architecture forum what they might like and I can assure you the results will be more 50/50. Many average people don't care anything about architecture and will choose whatever one has more superficial detailing. It saves them the work of finding deeper beauty. Many probably also grew up in the 70s-90s where modernism was incorrectly remembered as being the cause of crime-filled estates.
Plus, in North America, most live in hideous suburban housing, the very worst of architecture. Kinda suggests the need of a second opinion.

Also I've noticed that even on SSC in 2009 there were a lot of comments bashing modernism but they've seemed to have slowed down drastically in the past 3-4 years.
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Old August 6th, 2014, 04:16 AM   #495
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Some random internet poll doesn't prove anything. It doesn't prove that it's somehow natural for human being to like this kind of architecture like some people seem to implywhich would be very weird by the way since theres nothing natural about buildings to begin with. Neither does it say if they like those "traditional style" (what does it mean anyway everything built before 1914 on this planet ) because of how they look or it's rather a status symbol of some sort. Old houses sure are special they have history, you might tell a ghost story about them and their number is limited for obvious reasons but I highly doubt 77% people in the UK or elswhere would choose to live in such buildings if it was actually possible since it's often expensive and not very comfortable without radical redevelopment.
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Old August 6th, 2014, 07:20 AM   #496
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Before deferring to "old-style buildings", it is always important to remember something: 99% of buildings that survived over more than a century were buildings for the very rich, monuments, major religious places and the like. Ordinary buildings meant for those in the middle or bottom of income distribution in the past were mostly razed, destroyed or just replaced as they got dysfunctional, obsolete or uninhabitable over time.

There are a few exceptions, but they more or less confirm the rule.
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Old August 6th, 2014, 11:56 AM   #497
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^ That's utter bullshit. Again you have no idea what you're talking about when it comes to pre-modernist architecture.
At least in Germany and most of Europe it's almost evening out, with many poor-people and mid-level houses dating even from medieval times surviving. Look at any well-kept old town, you'll find a few patrician houses around market squares but the rest is mostly simple people's vernacular, still unspeakingly beautiful. Especially backyard houses, you'll still find them behind at least 50% of the wealthy homes. Oh and even these are really charming and well-crafted.

And even modernist luxury homes today aren't quite on par - in fact many of them are among the very worst of modernism. They've got half the ceiling height at best and barely any of the grand lobbies and amenities of 19th century wealthy homes. That's why 19th/early 20th century mansions and apartments often are still the most exclusive (and expensive) wherever you go.
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Old August 6th, 2014, 12:09 PM   #498
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See, I think this is a good "modernist" design. It got a well-structured facade, a soaring slender appearance due to setbacks, a calm yet interesting window scheme (f*ck all those hideous barcode designs!), the proportions, quality materials... It's simple yet beautiful and grounded in traditional architectural language. That's how it works.


http://www.maxdudler.com/ / SSC Thread - Frankfurt Stiftstrasse Tower


If at least 50% of today's constructions were of a comparable aesthetical quality, we wouldn't have this conversation. This level was a matter of course back in the days. Let's hope technology like additive manufacturing lifts the average again.
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Old August 6th, 2014, 02:34 PM   #499
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Setbacks make buildings look shorter and clunkier if you ask me. No surface from the base to the top to give the full height impression. From street level the Empire State Building looks only 200m tall. Then you have something like the Seagram Building and you can truly appreciate everything about it including the height from street level. The plaza was actually quite nice as well when I visited.

If by 'barcode designs' you mean random cladding, I agree, I find many of those ugly. No unity of form in that look. And the other issue is that many architects tend to bastardize modernism and use cheap plasticky materials that don't look good on anything, or stick machinery all over it because they took 'functionalism' too literally. Also by using concrete panels as opposed to in situ concrete.

Fun fact, LeCorbusier grew to despise the term 'functionalist'. He knew modernism was about pure form, space and pattern. Functionalism was what the architecture firms used to market the designs.
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Old August 6th, 2014, 04:29 PM   #500
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cloudship View Post
I think there might be some confusion with the term "Modernism" versus modern.

Modernism is an actual style. It encompasses things like the International style. mid century modern, and even Streamline Modern (what a lot of people lump ion with Art Deco). There are differing definitions depending on whether you are are talking from a formal scholarly position or a more vernacular eery-day person level, but a good way to look at it is that Modernism was a forward looking way of design based on the foundations of movement or activity and volume.

Modern architecture, as opposed to classical or traditional (which again is different from Classicism) is still around. And really, even buildings designed today with tradition facades are still technically modern. The difference here is in the approach.

Traditional architecture was basically a kit of parts - you decided what style you likes, you then took those parts which fit into your style and assembled them into a building and basically fr your rooms and life into them.

Modern architecture really starts with thinking about the spaces themselves and how they fit together, and then applying a "style" to those spaces. That is why you get the saying "Form follows function". It's not saying that form is industrial, cold, or blockish, just that the function, or space planning, comes first and drives the overall form. Even when we design a "traditional" building today, we still think about the spaces first, then apply the architectural style to those spaces, Thus, we get Neo-____ type styles.
Very good and useful post. What you're describing is our own recent revisionism of that period; we've taken modernism to refer only to the time's avantgarde (Le Corbusier, Bauhaus, De Stijl, constructivism etc.), but back then the meaning of the notion was much wider, and referred to all of the styles that were new and obviously / purposefully of their time. Our eye and understanding has now lost the ingenuity from when seeing that stuff for the first time and we find it hard to realize how radical, say, Art Nouveau at its best was when it originally broke out. However, it is still easy to take a photo camera in a Gaudi building and take pics that can show how Gaudi's architectural thinking already mastered pure abstraction no less than any master of the classic avantguarde. It's just that the latter would focus on linearity and rectangularity while Gaudi would focus on curved forms.
Art Nouveau's strong modernist legacy how now been relegated mainly to its naming: in Catalunya it's Modernisme (key country for the style; in the rest of Spain it's Modernismo) - that ones needs no explanation; in the francophone world Art Nouveau literally means New Art (with the semantic meaning of "innovative", not just "recent"); and the Germanic words such as Sezession and Jugendstill literally mean a new young style that breaks up with the past.
Another modernist style that has lost its aura and is now considered even a bit regressive is Art Deco. Sure, if you put an Art Deco building near a Mies van der Rohe pavillion it will be clear which one is pure avantgarde and which not, but there are large parts of the world (like in the Balkans, North Africa or South America) where Art Deco is the only modernist style that has been built in large enough quantities that it has permeated the culture while at the same time more avantgardistic buildings to make the Art Deco lose its impact force did not emerge in these cities - hence why in these places the people still refer to these buildings as they did back then: as of modernist buildings. Were you to go to Bucharest and claim that Art Deco buildings such as the Telephones Palace tower, the ARO building or lots of Art Deco villas are not modernist, people will look strange at you; and it makes sense when you see what the "competition" back then was.
Coming back to the style in itself, Art Deco did put ornament on the modernist building shape, but we forget that their take on ornament was new and different, modern. It has a dark, creepy quality that we still more or less unconsciously perceive - which is exactly what the production designers exploited when they confessedly based their sets for the Alien movie on Art Deco ideas. They knew we'll perceive it as disturbing. It reminds me of Picasso's neoclassical period in the '20s: yeah it's a temporary break in the modernist race for innovation, it's introverted and looking to the past, but it's still effing Picasso, bizarre and unique, and nobody would dare claim it's not part of the modernist cannon.
Finally, the most underrated and almost forgotten modernist style that is not avantgarde-based that I want to mention is expressionism. There's a thread here in this section somewhere, check it out - utterly beautiful and compelling stuff.
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