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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 20th, 2011, 03:02 PM   #141
kaligraffi
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Originally Posted by tpe View Post
I would not say that it is "structured complexity". Classical greek art aimed for simplicity, elegance, and a sense of balance. Baroque aimed for a sense of movement, and does not necessarily rely on profuse ornament.

The "structured complexity" that you refer to here is mostly incidental or on the surface. The fundamentals certainly do not rely on ornament.
The idea of structured complexity, as I understand it, is more about the interplay of elements. We can see this in classical Greek architecture from the volutes to a fluted column to the acroteria to a triglyph to a raking cornice. You're right that it's elegant, but it also holds a degree of complexity that in turn enhances the elegance.

As Louis Sullivan said, a building's identity lies in its ornament. You say that it's "incidental or on the surface", but the clothes we wear are "incidental or on the surface", and yet they are immensely important when it comes to what we do, how we behave, how we regard and present ourselves. The same goes for buildings: without any decoration, the building is naked, and thus denied depth and elegance and identity.

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Originally Posted by El_Greco
Not its not! Why pretend its 18th century when its 21st?
We decide what the 21st century looks like...just as architects and their patrons collectively contributed to the aesthetic of the 18th and 19th centuries. There is nothing inherent in the modern age that mandates this or that interpretation of modernism. As OakRidge rightly pointed out, this will be comfortably confirmed if one was to ask the majority of modern people what sort of architecture they prefer.
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Old August 20th, 2011, 05:25 PM   #142
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Originally Posted by Rebasepoiss View Post
I'm also against modernist planning (i.e. commieblock-style planning) but I can't figure out how an architectural style by itself can be dehumanizing. What are the objective arguments here?
I didn't say the modernist style per se was dehumanizing, and clearly explained it in the post above yours'. But anyways I'll say it again, it's wholistic modernist urban planning which I feel has failed us, even if it were all well-intentioned to begin with, and hence my admiration for New Urbanism.

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Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
New urbanism is overrated with its radical proposal to "humanize" the scale of everything. Since ancient ages (Stonehenge, Giza, Tenochtitlan, ancient Athens) humans have been building grandiose buildings and other structures of sheer size. Churches and mosques with gigantic, totally "out of human scale" domes and minarets have been around for centuries.
Yes of course. However, these monumental structures were few-and-far-between, and they were the focal point and landmark of the city. This is not monumentalism as we know it today where there is a competing clutter for attention, a turning away from the human to cater for the vehicle, and in turn a feeling of alienation and dehumanization. The monumental space (agora, forum, piazza, etc) temple, cathedral, town hall or whatever drew the people to them and were inviting, human spaces no matter how monumental. The monumentalism created a collective feeling of pride.
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Monumentalism is part of the same innate realization and accomplishment push that is common to so many different cultures and, among other feats, have taken man to the space, and before that, to think 43840 ways to tame nature, drain swamps, build aqueducts and so on. The proposal of new urbanism is a mediocre one, on in which there is no pride, accomplishment or structures build to make an impression. Not surprisingly, it is loved by those who propose similar approach to other aspects of life, such as "we need to stop thinking of travelling so much and taking holidays close to home", or "younger generations need to be taught to have less expectations of toys and games and rediscover the joy of running in a sandbox", "people should stop eating exotic food so often and reconnect with their surroundings' produce" and similar b.s., all an evil, anti-progress and anti-technocratic approach of which "human scale only" buildings are only one symptom of that evil project of 'retreat and die'.
Well, perhaps you are going a bit overboard here, but since you said it, you do make a valid point. YES, decadence and unsustainabie behaviour is having a detremental affect on society and the environment.

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Originally Posted by ChrisDVD View Post
I think it's important to distinguish the functions of a building and determine the style that is most appropriate. I find modern buildings great for downtown areas (thinking here in the North American sense of downtown). Modern Architecture is a great way to push the limits of physics and imagination. Almost anyone exposed to great modern works, like the Guggenheim in Balbao, the Eiffel Tower, or the Jim Mao tower in Shanghai, would enjoy them and feel awed. 'Classical' architecture is much more interesting for residential use. I find modern architecture cold and 'souless' for residential uses.

For example, here in Montréal, Canada (a city almost 400 years old), some of the most hip residential neighborhoods, like Le Plateau, consist mostly of early 20th century victorian Architecture. Le Plateau is filled with great restaurants, cafés, and shops. The atmosphere is insurpassed by any modern neighborhoods and will always maintain its intrinsic quality.



Other than N.A. downtown areas, where in our major cities have we created great neighborhoods? Suburbia, which is a great example of modernism, has never created an atmosphere, hasn't created anything really. Just a cold place where men and women come home at 6:00 PM, enter their identical homes, with boring plastic façades, cheap gardens and street-level life. Is this what we want to continue? Urban Sprawl, highways into city, and Wendy's everywhere? I hope not.

I just feel like we need to almost 'separate' these two types of Architecture. Modern; skyscrapers for businesses, museums, and great concert halls while the other genre for residences as it is more human and welcoming.
Good points. You can have the monumental for collective use, like what you've suggested and what's been done since the dawn of western civilization.

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Originally Posted by El_Greco View Post
I dont, there are some fantastic modern examples of residential architecture, theres no need for pitched roofs, doric columns and other "classical" nonsense. Its 21st century.
But the examples you show here are from Amsterdam and the buildings look like they certainly reference traditional Dutch/Amsterdam canal townhouses in the human scale. Pitched roofs, columns and other 'classical' nonsense as you put it, may be out of place and very kitschy there indeed. This is a good example of new construction, obviously adhering to the principles of human scale, new urbanism-type development. Your examples have proven my point exactly.

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Originally Posted by AAL View Post
There is no doubt about it. However, there is a big divide that separates modernism from all previous pre-modern styles. Despite all the different stylistic and aesthetical choices, pre-modern architecture - be it ancient Greek, Roman, Persian, Gothic, neoclassical, even art nouveau - relies on some sort of structured complexity. Modern buildings are completely devoid of this.

Now, as this structured complexity is something that is found everywhere in nature (see the fractal structure of a tree and its branches, for instance) I, as a neurobiologist, am convinced that our brains are hard-wired to look for such patterns in our environment. The presence of such patterns is "neurologically nourishing" while their absence is stressful.

Professor Nikos Salingaros of the University of Texas / San Antonio is one of the main proponents of this view, and he has given me the honour of asking me to write the introduction in one of his books. I think it is highly relevant to this discussion:

http://books.google.gr/books?id=i2Kr...ngaros&f=false


You should read this article about another prominent Greek architecture and urban planning academic working in North America, everyone should actually, who laments what happened to his own city and has worked tirelessly to put the human factor back into our cities. http://urbanplanning21stcentury.blog...-new-urbanism/
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Old August 20th, 2011, 05:42 PM   #143
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Originally Posted by Taller, Better View Post
But, at the risk of repeating myself, there is a difference between people having a personal preference for the aesthetic visuals of centuries old architecture, and the question of whether "modernism has failed". Again, people may prefer a photo of a 1931 Bugatti Royale car, but that does not necessarily lead to the conclusions that all modern cars are a failure because of that.
Ditto, discussions in this thread are way too heavy and serious for me. I love architecture, but grow tired when they get too academic and serious about their own work.

It's one thing to have certain qualities and ideas behind a movement, but it gets tiresome when it becomes too meticulous.
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Old August 20th, 2011, 07:36 PM   #144
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Originally Posted by kaligraffi View Post
We decide what the 21st century looks like...just as architects and their patrons collectively contributed to the aesthetic of the 18th and 19th centuries. There is nothing inherent in the modern age that mandates this or that interpretation of modernism. As OakRidge rightly pointed out, this will be comfortably confirmed if one was to ask the majority of modern people what sort of architecture they prefer.
Lame argument is lame argument.

What you claim could never be proven as it would be impossible to question "majority of modern people". It would also depend on the kind of question you ask. Its very easy to manipulate people and get the answer you need, all you have to do is formulate the question in a certain way.

Architecture should reflect our age and thankfully it does as the vast majority of buildings being built today are unashamedly modern in their appearance. However we should always insist on top quality.

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Originally Posted by skymantle View Post
But the examples you show here are from Amsterdam and the buildings look like they certainly reference traditional Dutch/Amsterdam canal townhouses in the human scale. Pitched roofs, columns and other 'classical' nonsense as you put it, may be out of place and very kitschy there indeed. This is a good example of new construction, obviously adhering to the principles of human scale, new urbanism-type development. Your examples have proven my point exactly.
Once again - lame argument is lame argument. These are modern buildings through and through (they are from three cities btw - Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Hamburg) and they certainly dont reference anything. Cities have been built like this since the times of Jericho and Damascus (ie the oldest cities in the World).
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Old August 20th, 2011, 07:45 PM   #145
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It certainly has not. Modernism's aim was never to be beautiful to look at, it's aim is/was to house as many people as it could in certain standarts, so it was definitely successful. Although it's slowly changing as people now a have higher standart of living (again, thanks to the modernism), since people (people who live in countries that can simply afford it, and by "people" I refer to middleclass) nowadays wants to live in "art pieces" (or should I say "artsy" pieces?) rather than "machines".
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Old August 20th, 2011, 08:02 PM   #146
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I wouldn't say it was not intended to be beautiful; I think modernism done properly was very beautiful in its honest simplicity. However, a lot was rapidly thrown up that was not beautiful, so I suppose if someone grew up only seeing monstrosities like Guy's Hospital, they are bound to think it was all appalling. A quick visit to Chicago or New York City might change their minds!

I wish that in many UK or European cities there had been more truly fine examples of International Style office towers from their heyday (1950's-70's). There is a vast difference to an indifferent tower, and one built by a great architect from that school of design. All towers built were not necessarily good examples of the craft.
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Old August 20th, 2011, 08:42 PM   #147
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Today we might find modernism beautiful, but when modernism was first appearing in the early 20th century, a building with ornaments and decorations was what people still used to call "beautiful". So it's no secret that modernism was seen as a disturbing, weird style in early 20th century by vast majority of people. Only some intellectuals could appreciate its alien, simple shapes back then.
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Old August 20th, 2011, 09:38 PM   #148
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Lame argument is lame argument.

What you claim could never be proven as it would be impossible to question "majority of modern people". It would also depend on the kind of question you ask. Its very easy to manipulate people and get the answer you need, all you have to do is formulate the question in a certain way.
The AIA's survey on America's favorite buildings saw modernism get completely pushed to the margins. The Seagram Building didn't even make it on the list even though it was nominated. But just so we're clear, are you really arguing that the Met Life and CBS buildings would be rated above the Chrysler Building in a random sampling?

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Architecture should reflect our age and thankfully it does as the vast majority of buildings being built today are unashamedly modern in their appearance. However we should always insist on top quality.
Why do endless glass curtain walls, flat roofs and cracking slabs of exposed concrete capture the "modern age" (and I highly doubt you'll ever define that to any degree of satisfaction) better than anything else? Why is ornament not a part of this "modern age"?

In the end, your argument is a tautology. "Architecture should reflect our age and modernism reflects our age because it is our age's architecture". It's also a tautology that tries to push the focus away from what a building is and toward an arbitrary set of rules about "our age" decided upon by a small group of would-be technocrats in the mid-20th Century. In short, modernism is focused on ideological purity (of an ill-defined ideology at that), not about achieving a complete architecture. Fittingly enough, it never came close to accomplishing the later.

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Originally Posted by The Cake On BBQ
Today we might find modernism beautiful, but when modernism was first appearing in the early 20th century, a building with ornaments and decorations was what people still used to call "beautiful". So it's no secret that modernism was seen as a disturbing, weird style in early 20th century by vast majority of people. Only some intellectuals could appreciate its alien, simple shapes back then.
Has that significantly changed?
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Old August 21st, 2011, 06:32 AM   #149
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Originally Posted by El_Greco View Post
Once again - lame argument is lame argument.
I'm sorry, but telling everyone their argument is lame without explaining comes across as quite immature.

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These are modern buildings through and through (they are from three cities btw - Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Hamburg) and they certainly dont reference anything.
lol, ok they're modern buildings yes of course, they do look new, but it certainly isn't modernist in style, and if you can't see that they reference their respective cities traditional, vernacular architecture, well what can I say? Let me just say, you haven't got an eye for architecture.

In this picture you can clearly see that classic Dutch 17th century canal townhouses have been referenced to create a pleasing new interpretation of the local style. The scale, form, hues of the buildings, the vertical fenestration, blends in with the old. They obviously considered their vernacular, whilst creating an innovative and interesting interpretation for contemporary times. New Urbanism doesn't just endeavour to immitate the old, but to innovate and respond to current socio-architectural needs and sensibilities, taking people first and foremost into consideration.

image hosted on flickr


This is traditional Amsterdam townhouses. Am I the only one who can see that the new above has referenced the old?



The other example, I take it is from Hamburg, going by that cities notable dock-warehouse architecture.

image hosted on flickr


And this is the old warhouses, obviously influencing the new.



As for Copenhagen, it's a good example of how urban development can proceed, where the pedestrian has been put above the motor vehhicle and where classical style development is revered over the modernist style, and hence why you have a well-functioning human scale city.

Jan Gehl the great Danish urbanist has this to say.

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Lecture: Jan Gehl, Cities for People

On January 24th, Jan Gehl spoke to a packed Vancouver Playhouse about his accomplishments and his latest book, Cities for People. Gehl is well known in his field for his focus on creating vibrant and livable places and his quest to restore life between buildings. Gehl also distinguishes himself by his approach to positive change: Typically he'll tell them to "try something" and if it works, keep going, if it doesn't, change it back. This incremental approach is seen in many of his projects including recently in New York. Though this may seem pragmatic, his concern is clear and focused. He believes there needs to be dialogue on how design and create our cities.

l began his lecture with two important shifts in planning history: the rise of modernism and the 'invasion' of the automobile. He explained that prior to the 1945, cities were not expanding very quickly and that growth was centered around the core. Cities grew in a piece-meal fashion using the same 'vocabulary' (linear, horizontal, made for traveling at 5km/hour). By the 1960s, instead of spaces for people, cities were geared for the car: the 5km/hour scale became 60km/hour. At that point, cities began to lose all sense of place for pedestrians. Gehl lamented that the Traffic Planners were only concerned for making more room for the traffic and keeping cars happy. To him, this is where respect for people and the dignity of man began to deteriorate in the city.
At this point, Gehl posited a very interesting question: "Why are architects not interested in people?"

He was referring to the way that architects tend to plan from on-high over models, often neglecting the streets and the 'people scale'. He called this The Brasilia Syndrome, after the planned capital of Brazil which was a marvel of modernist planning. Brasilia looked great from a plane, designed in the shape of a soaring eagle, but was not designed in the least for the comfort of pedestrians. It was a surprising revelation to hear this from a trained architect (as well as a lecture supported by an architecture firm).

Dubai is another city that Gehl lambasts for "birdshit architecture" where buildings are just seemingly dropped from the sky with no regard to the context on the ground. He accused architects of focusing on form and form alone when designing buildings (Frank Gehy *cough*) and compared the skyline of Dubai to his wife's perfume counter in their bathroom (where designers try to sell their product by trying to create elaborate shapes). This point reminded me of my own post about how Vancouver lacks interesting architecture. Though I still believe architectural diversity is important, more emphasis should be placed on achieving great public and pedestrian spaces and not showy pieces to be viewed from a distance.

Gehl's attention then focus on Landscape Architects. He rhetorically suggested that they must surely be our 'heros' because they look after the people scale. In fact, they are obsessed with people! Their plans always include a multitude of people engaging in what he described as "unspecified public life" or ambling about, doing who-knows-what.

Gehl made another important assertion: "We know more about the habitat of the mountain gorillas, panda bears, or Siberian tigers than we do about Homosapiens." I completely agree. One thing that happens in Vancouver is that we tend to look outward at our natural environment (typically from the seaway or wherever). We spend a lot of time, energy and attention on preserving or enhancing our natural world but not enough trying to enhance our built environment which is our habitat.

At the end of the day we should be striving to design a create lively, attractive, safe, sustainable, and healthy cities. We need to focus on creating spaces that are made for people - spaces meant to be traversed at 5km/hour. These are spaces that provide meaningful experiences. All it takes is for us to just leap and try something and create some incremental change that could have profound impacts. I highly recommend picking up Gehl's new book.

http://mastersplanning.blogspot.com/...or-people.html
Also, in the Danish section of these forums you will find what they describe as probably Copenhagen's best development.

Quote:
The main idea of the master plan:

Lets create the classical, dense city again in a modern, updated version. We know it works on creating life and activity 24/7. We don't want a new Řrestad based on the principles of modernism. Lets mix this classical approach with some tall towers creating identity and some unique squares, where people can meet. Hide the cars in huge, underground parking silos on the outskirts of the city so that the cars are kept out of the area. Lets focus on pedestrians, bicyclists and public transportation. Lets reuse the old, industrial facilities for cultural activities (dance halls, galleries, concert halls etc.)



http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=646363

Finally, I will add that your misplaced criticism of 'classical nonsense' in architecture, coming from someone in the UK, where easily the most beautiful and functional cities are in the classical style, is quite laughable. Cities such as Bath, Cheltenham and Edinburgh and of course the Georgian-style streets of London are the most prized and pleasing urban areas in the UK, whereas moderist monstrsities such as the vast housing estates have proven to be an utter social and environmental disaster, dehumanizing, characterless cells for storing people that do not foster a sense of community but breed anti-social behaviour as witnessed by the recent destructive riots in London.

So, in relation to classicism and I don't just mean tokenist detailing on buildings, but wholistic development such as the Carlsberg project in Copenhagen, world-renowned Greek classicist and master urban planner and architect who advises Prince Charles on his urban planning and heritage interests has put it like this.

Quote:
"A work is classical," he says, "not because it is immutable, eternal, and sacred but because it continually searches for and brings out the new. Classicism is not a style. Classicism is not a doctrine; it is philosophy of life. It is the philosophy of free will nurtured by tradition."

http://www.architectureweek.com/2004/0310/news_1-1.html
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Old August 21st, 2011, 07:40 AM   #150
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The idea of structured complexity, as I understand it, is more about the interplay of elements. We can see this in classical Greek architecture from the volutes to a fluted column to the acroteria to a triglyph to a raking cornice. You're right that it's elegant, but it also holds a degree of complexity that in turn enhances the elegance.

As Louis Sullivan said, a building's identity lies in its ornament. You say that it's "incidental or on the surface", but the clothes we wear are "incidental or on the surface", and yet they are immensely important when it comes to what we do, how we behave, how we regard and present ourselves. The same goes for buildings: without any decoration, the building is naked, and thus denied depth and elegance and identity.
Ornament or surface effects enhance but do not define the structure. A column is distinct from a pilaster, whether or not either one is fluted. Similarly, a primitive or modified doric is in no way inferior or any less a column than a corinthian simply because it is less ornamental.

Identity is not to be confused with achitectonic integrity. Examine the Carson, Pirie, Scott building in Chicago and you will see that the essence of Sullivan's style lies ABOVE the ornamental wrought-iron facing.

image hosted on flickr

Carson, Pirie &amp; Scott building by Bobbie Green Almaguer, on Flickr

You must be aware that Sullivan DETESTED the pseudo-classical buildings of Daniel Burnham because he regarded the use of ornament by Burnham as PURELY SURFACE DECORATION and in every way incidental to the architectural integrity of the building.

The essence of the Chicago School as exemplified by Sullivan is that it brought ornament in a way that broke clearly and cleanly with the rigid and tired classicism of his day. Can you name one Sullivan building that uses the Vitruvian orders?

SULLIVAN AND THE CHICAGO SCHOOL EMBODY THE ESSENCE AND VERY BEST OF MODERNISM.

Last edited by tpe; August 21st, 2011 at 07:59 AM.
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Old August 21st, 2011, 07:49 AM   #151
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Ditto, discussions in this thread are way too heavy and serious for me. I love architecture, but grow tired when they get too academic and serious about their own work.

It's one thing to have certain qualities and ideas behind a movement, but it gets tiresome when it becomes too meticulous.
A lack of knowledge essential to the appreciation of architecture should not be confused with the desire to be less "academic". An "eye" for architecture is meaningless if one cannot express it with some precision or sophistication.

Last edited by tpe; August 21st, 2011 at 08:17 AM.
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Old August 21st, 2011, 08:05 AM   #152
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It certainly has not. Modernism's aim was never to be beautiful to look at, it's aim is/was to house as many people as it could in certain standarts..
I think I would disagree with this. (And as an aside, many Roman tenements from 2000 years ago exactly had these aims, although most of them fell woefully short of the ideal.(

Good Modernism is very beautiful to look at, as was intended.

Last edited by tpe; August 21st, 2011 at 08:11 AM.
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Old August 21st, 2011, 02:50 PM   #153
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Originally Posted by kaligraffi View Post
modernism
Today modernism no longer means "form follows function", it has come to encompass whole range of styles. Indeed many contemporary architects claim to be modernists, but very few (perhaps even none) follow the true faith.

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Why do endless glass curtain walls, flat roofs and cracking slabs of exposed concrete capture the "modern age" (and I highly doubt you'll ever define that to any degree of satisfaction) better than anything else? Why is ornament not a part of this "modern age"?
Theres nothing wrong with exposed concrete, if looked after such buildings can and do look fantastic. However concrete and curtain walls have given way to curves and outlandish shapes long ago.

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modernism is focused on ideological purity
Maybe it was in the early days, but it no longer is.

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Originally Posted by skymantle View Post
I'm sorry, but telling everyone their argument is lame without explaining comes across as quite immature.
If it is lame argument then it is lame argument and yours certainly was lame argument. Still is.

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lol, ok they're modern buildings yes of course, they do look new, but it certainly isn't modernist in style, and if you can't see that they reference their respective cities traditional, vernacular architecture, well what can I say? Let me just say, you haven't got an eye for architecture.
Modernism no longer exists in its pure form, these days modernism can be just about anything as long as it has no classical nonsense.

Replace canal with a street and these could be just about anywhere. Thats how cities have been built (ie long rows of buildings following a street) since the dawn of civilization. This is the most efficient way of building a city.

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The other example, I take it is from Hamburg, going by that cities notable dock-warehouse architecture.
No.

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As for Copenhagen
First two are Amsterdam, second two are Copenhagen and the last is Hamburg.

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Cities such as Bath, Cheltenham and Edinburgh and of course the Georgian-style streets of London are the most prized and pleasing urban areas in the UK
But they are authentic. Ive seen plenty of attempts to do old and all but bar one (Tottenham Court Road) were absolutely atrocious!

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moderist monstrsities
Except these werent even designed by modernists but by council beaurocrats. Incidentally buildings where architect was involved are now some of the most sought after locations in the whole of London (Trellick Tower, Barbican Estate, Keeling House etc). Park Hill in Sheffield is unergoing a restoration and Le Corbusiers Unité d'Habitation in Marseille is inhabited by the wealthy.

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that do not foster a sense of community but breed anti-social behaviour as witnessed by the recent destructive riots in London.
The predominant type of housing in London is a terrace and no doubt majority of rioters came from terraced streets. Council estates have been coming down for years now.

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architect who advises Prince Charles
Explain me why we should build buildings that pretend to be old? For aesthetic reasons? Modern buildings can be aesthetically pleasing too (see the examples I posted) if not more so. Indeed whatever the location Id rather have some fantastic creation by Zaha or Libeskind or Gehry than a half-arsed attempt at Georgian architecture.
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Old August 21st, 2011, 05:15 PM   #154
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Originally Posted by El_Greco View Post
If it is lame argument then it is lame argument and yours certainly was lame argument. Still is.
Now you're just being cocky. My initial argument if I do recall correctly is that modernism has been a failure for people, with the motor vehicle taking precedence over humans in the city, and that we need to build human scale, mixed use cities that connect people with their environment. This is not a lame argument, but a genuine concern that great thinkers and urbanists like the Dane Jan Gehl have been discussing for decades. Did you bother to read what he said? I thought (hoped) maybe you would have got the picture after that.

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Originally Posted by El_Greco View Post
Modernism no longer exists in its pure form, these days modernism can be just about anything as long as it has no classical nonsense.
Uhm, this is...a lame statement to say the least.

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Originally Posted by El_Greco View Post
Replace canal with a street and these could be just about anywhere. Thats how cities have been built (ie long rows of buildings following a street) since the dawn of civilization. This is the most efficient way of building a city.
So you still won't acknowledge that those developments reference the traditional and vernacular architecture of each respective city? Hmmm, stubborn?

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Originally Posted by El_Greco View Post
No.

First two are Amsterdam, second two are Copenhagen and the last is Hamburg.

But they are authentic. Ive seen plenty of attempts to do old and all but bar one (Tottenham Court Road) were absolutely atrocious!
Authentic? Sure they are, but bear in mind they reference Graeco-Roman-Palladian classical architecture. Weren't they an attempt to do old in their time? Didn't turn out too bad after all. And even in the late twentieth century Quinlan Terry's work has been much celebrated and successful. There are plenty more examples of successful classical urban planning as opposed to modernist. Richmond, London is a stellar example.

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Originally Posted by El_Greco View Post
Except these werent even designed by modernists but by council beaurocrats. Incidentally buildings where architect was involved are now some of the most sought after locations in the whole of London (Trellick Tower, Barbican Estate, Keeling House etc). Park Hill in Sheffield is unergoing a restoration and Le Corbusiers Unité d'Habitation in Marseille is inhabited by the wealthy.
No surprise some modernist developments by signature architects may retain their value, but undoubtedly the majority has been slated a failure, right round the world, where city officials quietly wait for the day they will be replaced, be they designed by council modernists or famous ones.


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Originally Posted by El_Greco View Post
The predominant type of housing in London is a terrace and no doubt majority of rioters came from terraced streets. Council estates have been coming down for years now.
Most of the reports i saw, claimed that rioters were coming from council estates behind high streets, but in any case, the point is that type of housing has not been good for buiilding communities. I think most urban planners and sociologists will agree with that.

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Originally Posted by El_Greco View Post
Explain me why we should build buildings that pretend to be old? For aesthetic reasons? Modern buildings can be aesthetically pleasing too (see the examples I posted) if not more so. Indeed whatever the location Id rather have some fantastic creation by Zaha or Libeskind or Gehry than a half-arsed attempt at Georgian architecture.
I didn't say that buildings should pretend to be old, quite the opposite, I detest pastiche. You are rather tired though with your argument. Yes, modern buildings can be aesthetically pleasing too as the examples you posted indicate. But what you have to understand is that those modern buildings reference the old, but are still progressive in their own sense. Just like Porphyrios writes about classicism:
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"A work is classical," he says, "not because it is immutable, eternal, and sacred but because it continually searches for and brings out the new. Classicism is not a style. Classicism is not a doctrine; it is philosophy of life. It is the philosophy of free will nurtured by tradition."

http://www.architectureweek.com/2004/0310/news_1-1.html
I like the work of Hadid, Gehry or Liberskind also, and a major landmark by them amongst a classically inspired development, such as the Carlsberg site in Copenhagen would be great, but not their vision for a wholistic urban plan, which may seem cool and far-out now, but will deteriorate into a dehumanizing space eventually. A deconstructivist masterplan? Ehww, future urban planning disaster for sure.

Anyway, I feel I'm going to go around in circles with you. All I can say is if you want a better understanding of how a city should be planned, I suggest you search Jan Gehl on the net and start reading.

Ciao, and remember Britain's best architectural face is it's classical side. Swiis Re is in the totally wrong place, Canary Wharf is a disaster and most modernist urban planning developments have been an utter failure right through Old Blighty.
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Old August 21st, 2011, 10:14 PM   #155
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Originally Posted by skymantle View Post
modernism has been a failure for people, with the motor vehicle taking precedence over humans in the city
I agree about the car-obsession which led to the destruction of numerous buildings but also infrastructure such as trams. However this has been more the fault of motor industry lobying than modernism. Modernism hasnt failed, it evolved.

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and that we need to build human scale
Space is finite, cities cant expand forever, building tall is the only way.

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Uhm, this is...a lame statement to say the least.
Except that its not. Both Foster and Rogers describe themselves as modernists but their buildings have nothing in common with pure modernist "faith". I believe even Zaha described herself as modernist.

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Hmmm, stubborn?
I wont acknowledge it because as I already said this is how cities have been built since the dawn of civilization. You might as well say these developments reference Jericho.

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Weren't they an attempt to do old in their time?
No it wasnt an attempt to do old. This is a huge misreading of Georgian and Victorian architecture. It was symbolism that these styles carried with them that was important.

In 18th century when British Empire was rising the British adopted architectural style of the Ancient Rome because they saw themselves as heirs to the Roman Empire. Once British Empire has become established and indeed the greatest empire ever, there was a switch to Gothic, because this was seen as more English style than Classicism and therefore more appropriate.

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And even in the late twentieth century Quinlan Terry's work has been much celebrated and successful.
Are you joking? Hes a voice in the wilderness, ridiculed and ignored by the architectural establishment.

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No surprise some modernist developments by signature architects may retain their value, but undoubtedly the majority has been slated a failure
Keeling House and Park Hill in Sheffield were slated as failures, councils even considered demolishing them, but look now - Keeling House is a sought after location as is Park Hill.

Quote:
Most of the reports i saw, claimed that rioters were coming from council estates behind high streets, but in any case, the point is that type of housing has not been good for buiilding communities.
Liverpool demolished all of its estates and replaced them with terraces, yet the city still saw rioting. London still does have a lot of council estates but the predominant housing type is a terrace and majority of rioters came from terraces.

Tower block has conquered the World - you will see it everywhere from Asia to Africa and from America to Europe. Cities such as Singapore (safest and best planned city in the World?), Tokyo, Shanghai etc ect are high rise cities and some of the safest too. Walk the streets of those cities and youll find kids playing, neighbours chatting and old fellas playing dominoes or whatever. Architecture has nothing to do with riots whatsoever.

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I suggest you search Jan Gehl on the net and start reading.
Youre obsessed with him! Is he some kind of God? Im perfectly capable of forming my own opinion and dont need theoretics to help me out.

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Swiis Re is in the totally wrong place
No its not.

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Canary Wharf is a disaster.
Youre wrong. Im there pretty much every day. Its parks, bars, pubs and restaurants are filled with people every day, including weekends. It has wide streets and pavements, good transport connections and plenty of open spaces. It also is a very desirable place to live, indeed one of the UKs sexiest residential towers (Pan Peninsula) is located in CW. Doesnt sound like a disaster.
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Last edited by El_Greco; August 21st, 2011 at 10:23 PM.
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Old August 21st, 2011, 10:56 PM   #156
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Originally Posted by tpe View Post
A lack of knowledge essential to the appreciation of architecture should not be confused with the desire to be less "academic". An "eye" for architecture is meaningless if one cannot express it with some precision or sophistication.
Hmm, I'm not so sure. It depends on what you are trying to say. You don't need any kind of architectural training to appreciate the aesthetics of a building, and that really is the crux of the issue for a lot of people, not the background to the design. That's how things could possibly be perceived as being a little too academic.


An art critic, for example, would probably laugh at someone who said they'd prefer a Jack Vettriano to a Jackson Pollock, because they don't have the sophistatication to see what makes a Pollock great, but from a purely aesthetic view who is "right" ?


Apparently, when they were built, both the Houses of Parliament and Tower Bridge were thought of as ghastly gothic pastiches by architects of the day, which does suggest the hostility towards "modern architecture" is a lot older than people might suspect.
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Old August 22nd, 2011, 02:33 AM   #157
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Originally Posted by tpe View Post
Ornament or surface effects enhance but do not define the structure. A column is distinct from a pilaster, whether or not either one is fluted. Similarly, a primitive or modified doric is in no way inferior or any less a column than a corinthian simply because it is less ornamental.
One may call it "enhancing" or "definitive", that is beside the main point that ornament is an important part of what the building is; most strongly so when it comes to our visual and physical interaction with it.

A column is indeed distinct from a pilaster, but a pilaster is there to serve one of the purposes of a column: namely, the creation of depth, emphasizing the ground floor (etc) within the composition of a facade and of course added beauty. Remember, a column isn't just there to bear loads, else neither the Parthenon nor the Pantheon would have had more than one row of them.

When it comes to doric and corinthian, it's not a question of "superior" or "inferior", they're simply two styles of applying and adorning a column. The only thing that's truly inferior would be putting up a plain post and calling it a column, because it's reductionist and objectively inferior when it comes to what a column does.

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Identity is not to be confused with achitectonic integrity. Examine the Carson, Pirie, Scott building in Chicago and you will see that the essence of Sullivan's style lies ABOVE the ornamental wrought-iron facing.
If that's the "essence of Sullivan's style", then how can we explain his later appropriately-named "Jewel Boxes", which integrated ornament in the entirety of the design?

Quote:
You must be aware that Sullivan DETESTED the pseudo-classical buildings of Daniel Burnham because he regarded the use of ornament by Burnham as PURELY SURFACE DECORATION and in every way incidental to the architectural integrity of the building.

The essence of the Chicago School as exemplified by Sullivan is that it brought ornament in a way that broke clearly and cleanly with the rigid and tired classicism of his day. Can you name one Sullivan building that uses the Vitruvian orders?
Yes, I agree with that. However, that is 100% contrary to what modernism became, which was to remove all ornament and all connections with the past (Sullivan didn't, his "Golden Door" at the Columbian Exposition is full of such connections). That's the issue here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by El_Greco
Today modernism no longer means "form follows function", it has come to encompass whole range of styles. Indeed many contemporary architects claim to be modernists, but very few (perhaps even none) follow the true faith.
Well, "form follows function" is no longer followed (although the original modernists never followed it as closely as they'd have you believe), but most of the other parts of modernism are: "honesty of materials" (whatever that's supposed to mean), use of modern materials, breaking with any pre-modernist architecture, not using ornament. The majority of contemporary architecture can be traced very closely back to modernism, so for all intents and purposes we're dealing with modernism 2.0...and it shows.

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Theres nothing wrong with exposed concrete, if looked after such buildings can and do look fantastic. However concrete and curtain walls have given way to curves and outlandish shapes long ago.
Why give yourself the added hassle when stucco performs and looks better? Just about everyone who ever used concrete before modernism's dictates was smart enough to realize that exposed concrete was a bad idea.

But anyway, curtain walls and concrete are still with us, perhaps not so much with the "starchitects" (who can afford to commit the same ludicrous mistakes except with Australian titanium) but that's a relatively small percentage of the field. The Shard is about to completely change the skyline of London, curtain wall and all.
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Old August 22nd, 2011, 04:44 AM   #158
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Originally Posted by Rev Stickleback View Post
Hmm, I'm not so sure. It depends on what you are trying to say. You don't need any kind of architectural training to appreciate the aesthetics of a building, and that really is the crux of the issue for a lot of people, not the background to the design. That's how things could possibly be perceived as being a little too academic.


An art critic, for example, would probably laugh at someone who said they'd prefer a Jack Vettriano to a Jackson Pollock, because they don't have the sophistatication to see what makes a Pollock great, but from a purely aesthetic view who is "right" ?


Apparently, when they were built, both the Houses of Parliament and Tower Bridge were thought of as ghastly gothic pastiches by architects of the day, which does suggest the hostility towards "modern architecture" is a lot older than people might suspect.
Well, just the mere mention of the word "aesthetics", I can see that you are already sounding quite "academic".

Just exactly what do you mean by "aesthetics"? One can't be too vague about this, you know.
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Old August 22nd, 2011, 04:53 AM   #159
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Modernism? What art thou modernism? This is a tough question to answer. There is no right or wrong answer.

BUT

Modernist architecture in my opinion doesn't create the same atmosphere as something more classical looking (opulent + ornaments + colors, something very European looking). If I'm not mistaken, the ideology behind modernism (especially after WWII) was this: substance is more important than style (and cheaper). This is why skyscrapers were popping up all over North America as the economies were booming after WWII. Makes sense. But not everything was golden. Bauhaus, Brutalist and International Style architecture pale in comparison to, for example, American Art Deco skyscrapers of the 1930's. I believe Bauhaus, Brutalist and International Style are not appreciated anymore and never will. Some people say they are like Communist architecture - simple, restrictive and depressing. It just provides space.



Not very inspired (my grandma could design this):
image hosted on flickr
Toronto July 14 022 by Mike Rychlik, on Flickr

image hosted on flickr
UP by Mike Rychlik, on Flickr


Getting better:
image hosted on flickr
Rogers Center by Mike Rychlik, on Flickr

image hosted on flickr
Toronto 057 by Mike Rychlik, on Flickr


Pretty great work. Interesting, creative and playing with the form. They're not just boxes.
image hosted on flickr
Libeskind Design by Mike Rychlik, on Flickr

image hosted on flickr
Bank of America by Mike Rychlik, on Flickr

image hosted on flickr
New York City 251 by Mike Rychlik, on Flickr

image hosted on flickr
New York City by Mike Rychlik, on Flickr


Times Square sure has an atmosphere (it's the exception). The combination of very tall buildings, tons of neon lights and a refreshing wind stream in the summer can create quite an impression for a visitor Whoever thought of this was a genius.
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Times Square by Mike Rychlik, on Flickr

Last edited by rychlik; August 22nd, 2011 at 05:03 AM.
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Old August 22nd, 2011, 05:08 AM   #160
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kaligraffi View Post
One may call it "enhancing" or "definitive", that is beside the main point that ornament is an important part of what the building is; most strongly so when it comes to our visual and physical interaction with it.

A column is indeed distinct from a pilaster, but a pilaster is there to serve one of the purposes of a column: namely, the creation of depth, emphasizing the ground floor (etc) within the composition of a facade and of course added beauty. Remember, a column isn't just there to bear loads, else neither the Parthenon nor the Pantheon would have had more than one row of them.

When it comes to doric and corinthian, it's not a question of "superior" or "inferior", they're simply two styles of applying and adorning a column. The only thing that's truly inferior would be putting up a plain post and calling it a column, because it's reductionist and objectively inferior when it comes to what a column does.

If that's the "essence of Sullivan's style", then how can we explain his later appropriately-named "Jewel Boxes", which integrated ornament in the entirety of the design?

Yes, I agree with that. However, that is 100% contrary to what modernism became, which was to remove all ornament and all connections with the past (Sullivan didn't, his "Golden Door" at the Columbian Exposition is full of such connections). That's the issue here.


Well, "form follows function" is no longer followed (although the original modernists never followed it as closely as they'd have you believe), but most of the other parts of modernism are: "honesty of materials" (whatever that's supposed to mean), use of modern materials, breaking with any pre-modernist architecture, not using ornament. The majority of contemporary architecture can be traced very closely back to modernism, so for all intents and purposes we're dealing with modernism 2.0...and it shows.

Why give yourself the added hassle when stucco performs and looks better? Just about everyone who ever used concrete before modernism's dictates was smart enough to realize that exposed concrete was a bad idea.

But anyway, curtain walls and concrete are still with us, perhaps not so much with the "starchitects" (who can afford to commit the same ludicrous mistakes except with Australian titanium) but that's a relatively small percentage of the field. The Shard is about to completely change the skyline of London, curtain wall and all.
Well, a pilaster really doesn't support anything, correct? The wall does all the supporting. So in this case, the pilaster acts in counterpoint to the play of verticals and horizontals. This is exactly what you see in the great examples of Modernism.

You forget that "ornament" can mean the use of various materials to add color, contrast, or texture to the whole. It is certainly a central tenet of Art Deco/Art Moderne, where the use of extremely luxurious materials belie the simplicity of the details. Onyx and precious marbles are used in extremely streamlined fashion. This is also "ornament"

In mid-century modern, the use of new materials with great structural properties were used to great effect to create soaring vaults and overhangs that could never be achieved in the traditional/classical vein. Not only are the effects "ornamental", but it also introduces an elegance and exquisite sensibility unknown in earlier times:

image hosted on flickr

Falling Water by spike55151, on Flickr

image hosted on flickr

Farnsworth House by Alice Olive, on Flickr

image hosted on flickr

jřrn utzon, bagsvćrd kirke - bagsvaerd church, copenhagen 1967-1976 by seier+seier, on Flickr

One would be a FOOL to not see the beauty and perfection of these 3 examples. It could not have been achieved without the use of new materials.

Finally, may I reprimand you all on this one especial point: that many of the central tenets of modernism are NOT NEW. They have been elucidated centuries before in non-Western/non-classical traditions in Art and Architecture. In fact, some of the best tenets of Modernism derive from the principles and aesthetics of Japanese architecture.

Should it surprise you that the Katsura Imperial Villa in Kyoto served as an inspiration for so many modernists in the latter part of the 20th century?

Again, one would be a perfect FOOL not to see the beauty and ornament of Katsura, which is surprisingly (or NOT surprisingly?) "Modernist" in style:

image hosted on flickr

japan outtakes: Katsura imperial villa, Kyoto by miemo, on Flickr

image hosted on flickr

katsura imperial villa by NaomiQYTL, on Flickr

image hosted on flickr

A Japan photo No.380:Katsura Imperial Villa,Kyoto by japantwo, on Flickr


Perhaps many of you "Classicists" are too stuck up in Western notions and conventions to appreciate the GLOBAL reach of the Modernist aesthetic...

Last edited by tpe; August 22nd, 2011 at 05:38 AM.
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