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Old November 12th, 2011, 12:33 PM   #1
vachej
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The Re-bifurcation of the Urban Realm.

The Re-bifurcation of the Urban Realm.

Modernists, while so commendable in their efforts to bring into being
the new structure made possible by the wonderful materials of steel
and concrete, nevertheless completely failed to appreciate the severe
aesthetic limitations imposed by these materials. There is perhaps no way
they could have anticipated this, a priori. While the technical problems
were solved straight away, the aesthetic problems have hung
on doggedly, despite every effort of the architectural community.

What is finally clear in the face of the experience with modernism,
the international style, post modernism, poststructural
deconstructivism, etc, etc, is that the aesthetic problems
presented by modern materials are intractable. The problem
cannot be solved because the materials themselves 'foreclose',
in critical parlance, on the possibility of a solution:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/multiph...n/photostream/

Now when a theoretical failure is at last comprehended, what
will follow is a bifurcation. A solution from the past gets
reactivated, while the theory of the new materials gets
translated, gets pushed into a new realm. This is exaclty what
is beginning to happen in urban architecture.

The reactivation of old is coming by way of the steampunk
aesthetic, the immediate, tactile delight to be had in the scale and
design of the Victorian style. The steampunk aesthetic
is the proper scale, delineation, subdivision of space, the
true and wondrous organic mode of architectural expression
the public takes such great pleasure in. The steampunk
aesthetic is what must now reclaim the realm of the street.
It is the steampunk aesthetic which operates properly in this sphere of
the urban milieu, in exactly the milieu in which modernism
and its derivatives have successively failed.

On the other hand, immediately above this realm, in the
the upper reaches of the city, modernism justly takes over
on all fronts. Its soaring sweep, its massive undifferentiated
facades, its hulking bulk climbing into the skies, rising with
palpable determination absolutely belong, are exactly befitting
to the volumes beyond and above the street.

To the street then, belongs Steampunk.
To the firmament, belongs Futurisimo:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/treehou...n/photostream/

And so the rebirth of the urban realm will come by way of this re-bifurcation.
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Old November 15th, 2011, 12:27 PM   #2
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Another case in point of what happens when you don't properly
screen off high rises from street level with four storey individual decorative
masonry buildings.

First, for comparison, is a scheme that provides excellent screening with a blend of
brick, stone, and foliage:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/treehou...ream/lightbox/


All too often however theres no screening at all:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/baskill...8650/lightbox/

In the early days of the skyscraper it was naively assumed that merely
letting set-backs play the role of insulating/buffering four storey
brick and stone structure would be sufficient. Its now clear
that this strategy has failed. While shifting the larger mass away,
it doesn't convincingly screen off the enormous imposing mass.

Last edited by vachej; November 15th, 2011 at 09:00 PM.
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Old December 7th, 2011, 03:59 AM   #3
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Now the city is a city of steel and cement, cold and warm no life at all, this is the tragedy of modern architecture
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Old January 21st, 2012, 04:48 AM   #4
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Interesting theory.
I guess we're bound to assist to a cohexistence of modernism and contemporary classical for a while, and maybe the two styles will become something like classical orders, like ionic, doric and corinthian. Now we will have modernism and classicism, everyone with its own realm and range of application, like dresses: we wears everyday casual, but to go to work or to a conference we becomes classical and we wears same kind of dress we used to wear 100 years ago, just "contemporarized"...why must we only get the "casual dress" architecture?

100 years ago, there were two school, one was centred in Mies Van Der Rohe, the great, who pushed for an industrialization of architectural tastes to consent people to have its own houses and its own properties, and a second one based on a "contemporarization" of classical language based on craftmanship and human scale buildings. This last school had no followers whatsoever in the last 100 years and its founder was Antoni Gaudi i Cornet. Now that Mies school had its own great moment and now it's over, we can give Antoni Gaudi a go and try to develop from his style, fully contemporary yet classical somehow.

Modernism isn't made to last, classicism is. Every kind of classical building in the history has received criticism in the moment of its contruction. Everyone. A classical building only becomes acceptable passing through centuries, and becomes since then a masterpiece and a referring point. It is how it stand the test (and the taste) that a building built in classical style actually becomes classical.

Take for example jefferson memorial, built at the beginning of the century, had terrible critics. Now it is of the main sight of Washington and it is one of America's favourite architectures. It stood well the test of time, then it is a classical building. It is ridiculous to criticise a classical building the month, the year or the decade after its construction. 50 years after starts to be a little bit sufficent to appreciate it. I know we're very impatient, but that's our fault. classical architecture it is made for books not for newpapers or review to be read the month after.

A modernist building it is very easy to build and to use and receives immediate great criticism but stands terribly the test of time, because it is built according to a fashon that occurs in a punctual time and place and it is usually very soon to be forgotten.
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Old January 22nd, 2012, 08:55 PM   #5
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Styles are a matter of taste. What is 'in style' during that particular period in time at that particular place, with that particular economic / political circumstances.

During the late 1800s to the mid 1920s, before the prevalent emergence of Art Deco and Modernism as the vogue styles, the architectural styles were extremely varied. With a lot of revival styles. Classical style, usually applied to 'shorter' buildings were stretched sky high. Over the modern construction of steel frames and modern engineering systems, clads a facade reminiscent of the era 100 or even 1000 years past. It seems like that era is struggling to find a language.

During that period, we had Modern and Art Deco styled buildings built at the same time as Classical Revival, Gothic Revival and other revivalist styles. Kistch representations of monuments of the past, the true Classical, the true Gothic, etc.

In the 1920s, the rising popularity of Modern and Art Deco spelt the end for revivalist styles. Perhaps one reason of the popularity of Modern style is that it is cheaper to build and less labour intensive than the 'classical styles'. In certain cities there was a need to rehouse people in slums, and experimental apartment buildings emerged. After the destruction of WWII and to govt political alignment of certain countries, the 'oppulence' of the classical styles were ejected in favour of the functionality of Modernism. Certain leaders chose to re-use Classicist styles and inject their own personal flavour into it, in an attempt to hark back to the times century past where such monuments were symbolism of a great dynasty. But ultimately, Modernism's functionalism caused it to be widly adopted by certain governments, either by choice or otherwise. Mass social housing were built. Focus became on the community as a whole rather than individuals.

In my opinion this is an aspect Modernism neglects. It neglects the individual, and it focuses to the community. It neglects the individual as thinking, living people, and 'forces' them to comply to a certain lifestyle influenced by the design of the building. Individuality in a cityscape starts to disappear. Developers are more of big corporations than individual homeowners or small business owners.

Modernism is more planned, and less ad-hoc. Which, if well planned, can aid a city to function better, and make it more liveable. But if not well planned, the whole urban fabric and social life becomes disrupted. Organic classical urban planning is a combination of decisions by the individuals, planned modern urban planning is dictated by a higher administrative authority. Both has pros and cons.
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Old January 22nd, 2012, 09:31 PM   #6
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Agree. In XX century modernism worked pretty well. But its problem is that is easy to build but it is so fast ageing. It needs continuous reclad and restoration, while classical language builds things that can last virually forever. Now that we're in XXI century and no longer in de-personalized mechanicistical XX century, the question is: has modernism caused an end or a temporary stop to classical research? Will classical language be back like it always had after other extra vaganzas in past centuries (example: after bizantine experimentation came romanesque classical language, and after gothic experimentation came reinassance and its huge classical language restoration that lasted as a taste almost until 50-60 years ago).

Time will tell.
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Old January 23rd, 2012, 08:51 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tommolo View Post
Agree. In XX century modernism worked pretty well. But its problem is that is easy to build but it is so fast ageing. It needs continuous reclad and restoration, while classical language builds things that can last virually forever. Now that we're in XXI century and no longer in de-personalized mechanicistical XX century, the question is: has modernism caused an end or a temporary stop to classical research? Will classical language be back like it always had after other extra vaganzas in past centuries (example: after bizantine experimentation came romanesque classical language, and after gothic experimentation came reinassance and its huge classical language restoration that lasted as a taste almost until 50-60 years ago).

Time will tell.
Why do you think modernist buildings need lots of maintanence?

Public housing maybe yes, due to the "cheap, fast, many" mindset back then. But other private buildings?

Maybe because modernist building have more M&E services than Classical buildings, and these equipment need constant repair and upgrading over the years?

Aldo Rossi had used classical elements, proportions, visual aesthetics (minus ornamentation) and forms. We had resurrected classical elements as Post-Modernist architecture, which if not done with taste, would almost always end up as a spectacular failure of aesthetics.
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Old January 24th, 2012, 12:01 AM   #8
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because stone lasts virtually forever. Concrete 50-100 years. That's all about materials
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Old January 24th, 2012, 03:04 PM   #9
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True. Hmm... maybe we might go back into masonry based construction one day.

I'm more worried about the 'pure steel frame' skyscraper construction systems. Those built without concrete. Makes me wonder come 200, 300 years later, how much money and effort would the owners need to pay to maintain their increasingly flimsy structures.
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Old February 4th, 2012, 06:38 PM   #10
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It needs continuous reclad and restoration, while classical language builds things that can last virually forever.
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Old February 4th, 2012, 07:56 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jienots View Post
It needs continuous reclad and restoration, while classical language builds things that can last virually forever.
How ironic that the 'modern technologies' used in construction could not withstand beyond perhaps 200 years of weathering and aging. While the primitive brick and stone, used for thousands of years could.

Come 500 years later, I wonder how many of our steel framed, and 'totally steel' skyscrapers would still be standing. They need constant maintenance. Masonry structures can be still well without much maintenance for a few hundred years perhaps.
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Old February 5th, 2012, 05:49 PM   #12
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Of course old styled construction does not withstand time longer than modern buildings.
You should not think that old buildings survived so long without constant work on them.
However, traditional architects had found numerous of clever solutions against decomposition and ageing
and it needed some time for modern buildings to regain that knowledge.
But today the detailed design is far superior to former centuries (although the best solutions are not always being used..).

Go to the "most beautiful ancient city"-Thread to see what remains of traditional construction work after centuries with no maintenance: often barely the foundations.

With quality construction work in the first place and propper maintenance today's buildings can last indefinitly, just like older ones (which however often needed to get modernized to gain that quality).
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Old February 5th, 2012, 07:16 PM   #13
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Wunderknabe, thank for your opinion, but please consider existing examples. Frank Lloyd Wright's famous fallingwater house, perhaps the most recognizable modernist icon, is bending dangerously. They're hurring before it will be too late to save this important piece of architecture. Its concrete it is not standing the test of time. It has not even 100 years now.

Arch it is an element pefectly equilibrated and it stands normally for many thousands of years, and today we have many examples, like the colisseum, aquaeduct still perfectly working and so on.

I for my own experience, live in a city where people still lives in houses built 500 or 400 years ago, in perfect conditions, while they're demolishing concrete buildings built 50 years ago, ageing so badly. What the heck is happening?
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Old February 7th, 2012, 01:12 AM   #14
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The problems of Fallingwater House result from bad planning, not from principal problems of
modern building techniques. Same I guess with most cheap "modern" crap after the war.

And no doubt earlier modern buildings had still to (re)invent techniques for sustainability.

However, I said: todays knowledge, materials and construction is superior to traditional ones.
But always under the premise that it is propperly done. For example I guess half of chinese
residential highrises will have to be demolished again after only 20 or 30 years of use.
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Old February 7th, 2012, 01:53 AM   #15
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Yeah but concrete has a time limit, stone hasn't. Romans already have built many things in their own kind of concrete. They have not stood the test of time, only things built with arches and stones had. When you say that today we have a bigger knowledge than previous generations, you're obviously saying the truth. We now can build things impossible to past generations. But we economically prefer to speed up building techniques to ease economical speculation than develop futher classical techniques that would grant us larger durations of our monumental buildings.

The question is that today we're way more interested in create things easy to build, not in creating things that lasts.
Our view, that we might call contemporary classicism, far from escaping from modernity or technology, is based on the fact that we must bring further the knowledge, rediscovering and improving classical tastes. Concrete is anti ecological, and too easy to build or destroy. Ancient monument hadn't received proper restoration until XIX century, and in many case they're still there. Modern buildings built just to create floorspace destined to multinationals are not interested in, and are not designed to, last for centuries.

The XX century has begun on the waves of futurism, based on the paradigm that "cities would be tore down and rebuilt by every generation". Now we're in XXI century, do we need this consumerism anymore? I guess not, we need a new classical style fully contemporary, based on more sustainable and ecological grounds.
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Old February 8th, 2012, 01:10 AM   #16
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No, what we need to start doing it challenging our limits to as far as we can. Time does not matter when time can be pushed to it's limits.

We need to push to new heights, new materials, what we need is....

A grand new type architecture. Something that will not only time the length of time, but challenge us to our very limits. That should be our future, as well as our purpose.

Stone is a shitty material. Period. It only lasts in places with a consistent temperature.

Otherwise, it cracks and is impossible to maintain.

If humans really wanted to test the time of buildings they would build with stainless steel painted white (for environmental, economical and social reasons).
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Old February 8th, 2012, 01:39 AM   #17
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Novilism: the pre-critical attitude typical of XX century according to which everything is new is good, and everything is old is shitty.
This attitude produced our insustainable world we see today. Too expensive to be maintained.
And last but not least, we're no longer in XX century. It's XXI.
Don't get me wrong, new materials might be a good choice, but never refusing the ancient knowledge, that is the very sense of humanity. Yours affirmations about stone as a building material are easily falsifiable by visiting every modern european city with ancient origins. Stones. They stands very firmly on the ground, they don't cracks and they are asy to be maintained. I guess I'm with you in be daring, in building 1000 meters tall monuments, but not for height's sake, please. Architecture must become once again an art, and put aside engineeristical experimentations or extra-vaganzas. 1) Build beautiful and harmonical buildings first, 2) easy to use or to live in tall and 3) building daring, huge, vast building third. That is the only way off these times' cul de sac. Do you recognize at least that we're in a cul de sac, do you?
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Old February 8th, 2012, 06:53 AM   #18
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Sure I agree we're in a "cul-de-sac." But I'm not a Novilist. For the most part there's a lot of stuff I like from the past. (i.e. Hotel Chateau or the Versailles). But as I said Stone is strong in a safe and consistent environment.

I build a stone building in New York and I'll spend a $hitload of money to repair it. Europe (especially central and southern) has a pretty consistent and stable climate. However, even there has it's disadvantage.

Why? Because it's Earthquake prone. Properly rebar'd concrete can withstand a pretty heavy earthquake.

Now imagine an earthquake with concrete that's not rebar'd. There's your stone masterpiece. Nothing but pebbles and boulders. Stone actually cracks VERY easily in places with varied climate. It wouldn't be uncommon for a stone to explode because a really wet day happened then to a massive humid heatwave the next. (Trust me I've seen it). Sure, Architecture should be beautiful and harmonical.

That's the thing though. How do we do it with modern equipment, materials and technology.

Do we carve stuff in the concrete? Form unique shapes with steel and glass? How about a building with beautiful colours? Just graffiti it up?

"If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem."
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Old February 8th, 2012, 02:54 PM   #19
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Well if you liked versailles then i could suggest many other unknown buildings in europe that could easily rival with that famous example, but that's another topic!

As for earthquake, I give you an example: n 2009 in l'aquila, italy, there was an earthquake and the buildings that resisted better were the ancient one in stone.

As for modern building their time resistance depends on how well they are designed or built, this is true for stone or ancient building too. If those building are well built and are not destroyed by invaders or enemies or volcanical eruptions, these structures can easily overcomes centuries.

To me there is something like a three stage level: first level, the technology is based upon simple materials like stones, second level, the science and technology lead to the use of innovative materials that could afford to reach unthinkable heights for some few centuries, third level, mathematical calculus and innovation in techniques lead to built strong, tall, vaste and monumental building with precious materials (marbles etc) mixed with modern one. To me, we're still in second stage. Since probably none of ours opinions is the very and only right answer, I guess time will tell which one is more correct or more adherent to reality, thanks for sharing your thoughts!
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Old February 8th, 2012, 07:05 PM   #20
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No problem

It's nice to know everyone's opinions.
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