I'm looking around Amazon.com, at Architecture books, and came across this
quote from "The Organic Approach to Architecture" by Deborah Gans, Zehra
"Man must stop making and manipulating, and instead allow architecture to
Now, I myself tend to think it's important to "let creativity flow" so to
speak, but in the end, creativity without discipline is merely the flip
side of discipline without creativity - the latter is soulless and the
former is formless noise.
So is it just me, or does the above statement seem to be far too
"fluffy/warm'n'fuzy/New-Age wishful thinking", especially when applied to
something like Architecture that, out of necessity, must also work hand-in-
hand with engineering?
I've often heard it said that the builders of Chartres and other of the
great cathedrals 'didn't have advanced engineering or sophisticated tools',
and that this is evidence of the value of building, so to speak, by feel.
Personally, I think they had to use math, and geometry; the fact that there
are no surviving documents regarding their mathematical methods does not,
in any way, prove that there was no use of math - it merely proves that
they were extremely secretive about those methods.
Now, I do think that an intelligent person, regardless of education or
lasck thereof, will, through observation (of traditional building methods)
and experience develop a sense, an understanding, of certain parameters
concerning materials and the sorts of stresses they can withstand, and
therefore, the sorts of applications to which they're suited.
But that seems to me to be a *very* different matter from doing things on
the fly, or "just letting it happen". Architecture, like any creative
work, has to begin with an idea, but then one has to plan the execution of
that idea. Architecture has to go further, however, because of its
intended uses (human habitation, and so on). IOW, if a sculpture
collapses, it's unlikely that loss of human life will occur, whereas, if a
building collapses, the opposite is true, and that loss could easily occur
in large numbers. Additionally, in comparison to an individual creative
work, the erection of a building requires many resources (material,
financial, and human) - therefore, the loss of a building due to structural
failure is more costly, to more people (nopt to mention city or national
So how does one simply "let it (architecture) 'happen'"? I don't see how
it can be possible except on a *very* small scale.
Or am I wrong? Any thoughts...?
Note that the cover of the book is designed, made, manipulated to show that
first of "organic architecture" errors - looks like animal guts.
I quote from some web page:
infrastructures, and electronic
Oh, some of those. Useless academics wrapped up "social issues" and trendy
buzzwords. "cyber and geometric morphing" catches my eye. Translates to
"look, we can make pretty movies on a computer. We must be architecture
One fears that in the end it boils down to "architects and clients should
shut up and let other people build what they want for their own benefit with
the client's money on the client's land. that would be organic."
No "discourse" has broad appeal. "Discourse" is what Architecture Professors
"Cut a section through a moment of culture." Did I mention they were just
pointlessly messing around with buzzwords?
But creativity is forcing your will on other people and things. When you
create, especially when you elevate your creation with the falsely
validating label "creative", you say "This is special because I made it."
You suppress the values and natures of that which is other and oppress them
with your will, your so called vision.
One problem I have with it is that to the way I understand words, it is
impossible. I focus on "allow architecture to happen". That's all very nice
and passive. Thing is, trees don't cut themselves down, lumber doesn't just
assemble itself into even so much as a toolshed without somebody coming
along and disallowing the regular flow of things.
Let's presume that the authors aren't that stupid and are just poor/overly
dramatic communicators. Maybe they are urging a vernacular thing. Just let
Ted put up his mud hut how he wants. If he needs a storage shed later, he'll
add a storage shed, as the need gels organicly from the aether. OK, that's a
nice little vision. But would it get large office buildings built? Would it
be subject to error? Isn't one of the things we try to learn early in design
school to make repurposable space? Recyclable buildings? Ted's approach
looks pretty wasteful and error prone. "Oops, I guessed too small."
Then there's the question of "what is architecture?" Many of the definitions
and discussions I've run into tend to lead towards architecture is
necessarily made and manipulated. Anything "organic" wouldn't qualify.
Or maybe they mean only from the design side. FLW fans. Maybe they have
trouble holding logical systems in their heads and just want to flow a
design as they _feeeeeeel_ it. OK, that is one approach to design. There are
many other theories of design. My own theory of design is that it's
fun/pathetic to watch all these people come up with their One True Answer to
design theory. The use of "must" here implies that any other theory is bunk,
all other buildings (you know the ones out there that are being used and
have happy clients inhabiting them, that WORK or ARE GOOD ARCHITECTURE) are
somehow wrong and bad.
And then, of course, there is that great peeve of mine : Must. Must is
either an imperative or a precondition.
precondition - "You MUST <blah> in order to achieve _______." What?
imperative - "You MUST <blah> because I say so."
"Must" marks a condition of great importance. It isn't optional. It isn't
"Man could do <blah> and it might be nice." If you're going to go slinging
"must"s around I'd like to see a reason. Quite simply...
Why _must_ I?
"Man must stop making and manipulating in order to no longer make and
"Man must stop making because I say so."
"Man must stop making and manipulating because I'm bad at it and am tired of
being shown up."
"Man must stop making and manipulating in order to asuage my liberal guilt."
"Man must stop making and manipulating because I need to have radical
opinions to gain tenure."
"Man must stop making and manipulating so as to fullfil the requirements of
If it is deserving of a real live "must" then it ought to be fairly easy to
explain. Or at least to point to the dire consequences of failure.
What if it's a simple precondition to an outcome I don't value?
"Man must stop making and manipulating in order to save one hundredth of a
penny on the dollar."
"Man must stop making and manipulating so that he can be enslaved by
No matter, the statement only says "Must" and fails to offer the other half.
So it's useless.
Beauvais collapsed and never finished. Pantheon is held together with giant
chains pasted on as the need emerged. Sure, the Pyramids have suffered some
finish loss (perhaps through human behaviour, I'm not sure) but have lasted
darned well and for all their size do manage to provide a few actual useable
square feet; with no real windows; and long corridors...
No, it does not prove that in the least. "Prove" means something. It clearly
does not mean "allows for an alternate fantasy."
It seems likely that cathedral builders did not have math any more advanced
than is on record from the time. "no no, Abbot Suger invented the Calculus
and fininte element analysis but kept it under his hat passing it on only
through secret Catholic rites..." Well, that could have happened and it is
deucedly tough to prove that which is defined as unprovable...
Maybe if we just leave our minds open to the possibilities we'll just see
the answer rather than imposing our own answer..
Could get in to the question of creativity. I have no patience for people
who claim that the sculpture was just in the rock waiting for them to
uncover it or God guided their hands or whatever "no no no, I'm not special"
dodge they want to take. Either you generated the idea or a
multi-disciplinary team of video artists and sanitation engineers put it
I do note that one of the authors works at a design and engineering firm and
that actual engineers were included in the list of peopletypes who tried to
develop the language.
But if they recognize the value/importance of actual engineering, what DO
they mean by "stop making and manipulating"?
First guess - nothing. It's just something that sounds cool and edgy and
provocative and through wordplay can pretend to summarize their slice of
contemporary culture. If their summary were "Crap, plywood went up again"
they wouldn't sell books.
Using resources is bad. Building out of the mud in your back yard is
You're as wrong as I am in that we are playing off their meaningless
eyecatcher. We'd have to be Architecture Professors to be able to properly
pull apart the content of the book to which the eyecatcher refers. Your
guess is as good as mine - worthless - until we so do. Not to say that your
opinions and elaborations are wrong in and of themselves, but only that they
are insofar as they attempt to address what we do not yet know.
If I were to, by voice, tell you that one of my favourite books is "Make Way
For Ducklings" and you were to spend ten minutes going on about the
potential uses for curds (To which I'd reply that you must be some sort of
anti-Turk racist bastard) and even full blown cheese in a duckling's diet or
perhaps the harm that can be done by giving any sort of dairy product to a
non-mammal infant... well then, you may be right, but you'd be wrong. Same
thing as here.
But look at all the discourse they engendered. Ooooooo.
Builders or a few developers might fit that description.
But an Architect is IMO more than that. Granted, I'm just a layperson, but
I have eyes and a brain, and therre is as much differnce between an
Architect and a "tech with an art background" as there is between a lab
tech and a *top-notch* research Scientist. Both have a science background,
but educational level is not the separator - the key is creative genius.
A mechanic learns and understands the workings of a machine, and can
perhaps make a couple of improvements to a given engine design. But that's
differnt from being able to make that original creative leap that combined
the steam whirlygig toy with gears and so on to come up with the first
ideas about the first engines. Or being a Kelly (see "U-2" and "SR-71").
It no longer popular, however, to give recognition to true genius, because
to do so includes the recognition that everyone is *not* the same.
I took a re-look - and you're right...I hadn't put a verbal description to
it, just registered it as being unsettling in some way. You're description
pins it - it's too similar to the images I remember from my college courses
in Anatomy'n'Physiology, and later images taken via endoscopy.
It reminds me of how quickly the technique of visually morphing one
thing/critter into another got tedious aand boring, due to over-use in
advertising. It's OK to have that one woman in Harry Potter morph from a
cat shape into her human shape, but that's a fantasy movie so it at least
suits the context. But the technique itself lost a lot of visual interest
during its relatively-brief spurt of exposure in TV advertising.
The point being that some people still thing it's "like, reull kewel, dood"
to throw the words "morph" or "morphing" into a phrase. Same with "cyber".
A lot of polysyllabic technoblither to simply say, as you put it, "ooooh,
looook, pretty moovies..."
Well, this is just my layman's opinion, but it seems to me that some of the
so-called "avante garde" types can be really over-bearing. IMO, some of
this stuff simply ain't art, no matter how many syllables ones uses to try
to make it out to be art. Architecture has got to be (angin, IMO as a
layman) the most difficult of arts because it *must* also pass the test of
useability, function, meeting specific human needs. Added to that is the
whole area of engineering - there are some things created by pure
engineering necessity that end up being as beautiful as any intentionally-
artistic creation (or even more so).
When art and engineering merge, the result can be breathtaking - but
architecture that can't pass the test of useability is actually sculpture
on a large (and extremely expensive) scale. Architecture can be
"sculptural" and sculpture can be "architectural", but the two disciplines
(oooh, there is that bad word again) are, it seems to me, very different.
Now that is a thought-provoking statement. I've heard a lot of phrases
(from different disciplines) that mention "discourse", but it seems to me
to be one of those words that end up leaving me going, "Huh...??" Reminds
me of one "manager" I had at the agency who kept yammering about "tasking".
After a couple weeks, I finally bacame totally exasperated and blurted out
"What the heck does that *mean*???" He got all piseed and said, it means
giving you an assignment, telling you to work on a certain topic. I
thought (but didn't say <g>), Well, if that is what it means, then why not
just say what you mean instead of blithering...
The point being, you raise a good point, which is, What does the author
MEAN by "...the contributors weave together a discourse..."?? I am
actually not sure. Well, OK, I actually have no idea. It seems like a
nebulous phrase, devoid of substance, that is intended to *avoid* meaning,
rather than establish meaning.
Yeah, that's a good one, also. It only makes sense if one doesn't think
about it at all. But what, in reality, is a "moment of culture"? I
suppose dthey mean "take a cross-sectional sampling of some examples of
modern architecture", but again, if that's what they mean, why don't they
just *say* what they mean...?
Heh... Yeah, that sounds like a university Humanities major all right :p .
(I majored in hard science so we already know I'm totally warped <LOL!>)
Exactly. The other thing is that building differs from sculpture in that
building/architecture is always done with a purpose in mind - from the
simple pioneer farmer who needed to build a shelter before bringing his
family out west, to the people who built the cathedrals and places like
Versailles, and on to today, nobody just up and says, "Gee, I think I'll
build a building for no reason or purpose." That isn;t architecture, it's
sculpture, or perhaps installation art.
To go back to your tree that doesn't cut itself down, I'll take a step even
further back and say, there is no *intent* involved in a seed growing into
a tree. But architecture, and I'd say any form of art or even, for that
matter, most (any?) productive human activities, have *some* sort of intent
that motivates the action. Even if it's to merely pick up the remote and
change the channel, there is an intent. A tree has no intent. A tree
"just happens", in that the DNA inside a seed automatically makes a tree
given adequate conditions.
There are other factors, also. Even in non-technological/primitive
villages, huts are built according to what the people have, over time, both
perceived as their needs, and found to be structurally sound and reasonably
protective (that can be built from what is on hand and without taking
unreasonable amounbts of time away from subsistance activities).
One problem with allowing anyone to put up anything is, that basic cross-
generational knolwedge no longer exists. More importantly, though, modern
"needs" are much more complex, which in turn requires more complex
structures. Even aside from code - assuming a place where no code exists,
the fundamental laws of physics don't change regardless of how little the
average person knows, understand, or wants those laws. You've got
numbskulls who think that a bus "must" stop on a dime simply because they
wish to jaywalk, never comprehending that the reason jaywalking is bad is,
busses *can't* stop on a dime.
When you get such people trying to erect anything bigger than a showbox,
what you end up with is something that won't be erect for very long at all.
As you pointed out, it's "error-prone". Even if I can build a gazebo, that
doesn't mean I can build even a single-story house, with HVAC, electrical
wiring, plumbing, etc. - the two structures are totally different in
purpose and, therefore, structural requirements. Most people, however,
tend to overestimate their abilities, and I'm sure we've all seen, at one
time or another, the results of work done by DIY-ers who thought they knew
The other point is aesthetic, IOW, Do we all *really* want to live next
door to a cardboard-and-corrugated-metal shanty or a mud hut? Even aside
from the issue of sanitation, to what extent should one person's desire
infringe upon the desires of many others? That's a sticky one but it has
to enter into consideration unless one lives out where nobody else will be
I think ofthe word "organic" differently from that - I think of it more in
terms of (1) logical (in that living systems are organized for
survivability and functionability; even though the functions of a horse
differ from the functions of a sea squirt, both are organized in a way that
suits their survival); and (2) having a form that has an aesthetic
progression and eleboration ("decoration" if you will) which is more
reminiscent of living structures then of machine-made structures. Or, tpo
hopefully explain it better - it seems to me that architecture is a blend
of the aesthetic with the practical, but it shouldn't reduce all of that to
the "purely" or "mechanically" practical - one example might be the
separation of the kitchen/food-prep/food-storage area, from the
utility/laundry/"dirty" area - mechanically, it might be more practical, in
terms of plumbing and hot water, to have them integrated, but it's
generally unappealing to humans in both aesthetic and sanitary terms.
Another example of "organic" is, again *IMO* or as I see it, the use of
natural materials which humans commonly perceive as having more "warmth".
Although a house could cetainly be made totally of concrete, and/or
consisting of white cubes with facilities added in, that would be
completely unappealing to most people because it'd be perceived as most by
being "cold" ("unorganic").
But this idea of "organic" meaning "freeform" or "free of logic" is absurd
precisely because it is, as you note, impossible to construct something
without some sort of rational thought process occurring.
Of course, in chemistry, "organic" means (as I might have mentioned in the
past) "carbon-based" and very often "carbon-ring based" (a carbon ring
being hexagonal). There are specific rules and reasons why certain
chemical reactions and bonds occur, and otehrs do not. This is how a few
poeple are able to create workable molecules in their minds; it's also why
computer-based molecular modeling is possible. So in this sense as well,
the idea of "organic=no rules" is absurd.
Even there, however, intent does exist. It has to. The simplest idea "I
want to make a doghouse" is an intent. Even when I'm mucking around in 3D,
I'm thinking, "I don't want it so that dirty laundry would have to be
carried right through the kitchen", or other such things, such as "have an
extension to the garage that could be a workshop, with entry from both
right into a utility area with a sink and maybe even a small shower".
More fundamentally, it is intent which tells the (healthy) brain's motor
cortex to move one's hands and fingers *here*, and then *there*, as opposed
to just having the things flopping about.
The instant you say "design", you also say, albeit only implicitly,
"intent". Without intent, design cannot exist. That isn't philosophy,
it's a matter of brain function.
Someone once referred to it as "musterbation" <g>.
IMO there are things that are important because they make sense. Reducing
wastage of building materials, for one example; another example would be
"good insulation and thermpopane windows". There are things that make
sense, and things that are stupid and expensive, and then there are things
that are stupid but cheap and all that a lot of people can afford.
IMO, "must" can only exist when there are certain conditions that need to
be met for the sake of humanity (as in, caring about people). Insulation
to lower heating and cooling costs. Solid construction to reduce the
chances, not only of storm damage, but storm-related injuries to occupants.
Things like that.
But thermopane windows can be tall and thin, short and wide, round,
hexagonal, etc. and so on and so forth. Even if someone says that a house
I like "looks like a parking garage" and I say that the one they like looks
like a nightmare of geegaws, it is still practical and important to have
IOW, there are a few, but only a few!, "musts". Such as, "a structure must
not fall down upon the inhabitants". I do think there are also some
"shoulds/should nots", but those are general and don't refer to a specific
sort of design (unless you consider snout-houses "design" <g!>).
As above, absurd.
[ ... ]
Yes, that is the point I was trying to get at - you used far fewer words!
Well, "must" in itself isn't useless, as in tha example of "a structure
must not fall down", at least given reasonable useage and standing for a
reasonable period of time.
And even all those fancy "organics" have to have math behind them. All
living systems do.
It starts with the constraints on bond-angles of the various atoms. There
is some current teevee show that had some inane blither about "triple-
stranded DNA" - but if it was triple-stranged, it wouldn't be DNA, because
the atoms making up the DNA molecule couldn't bond that way, hence, it
could not be DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). It would be some other thing, X-
nucleic acid , mysteriosonucleic acid. But not DNA.
Similarly, design without thought or logic cannot be "organic", because
organic systems are ordered systems. A pinyon pine is shaped like a pinyon
pine for specific reasons; a red oak is a red oak for other reasons. While
it's true that no two pines or oaks (even cloned ones) will be exactly
identical in shape, that, too, is for specific reasons. Lack of reason is
NOT "organic". To say so is erroneous.
Well, they might have had a few tricks up their sleeves so to speak - but
advanced calculus? I don't think so... At the same time, tho', I also
don't at all think that means they built with no sorts of rules
(established thorugh experience and trial-and-error). I've heard some
people try to say that they just sort of made it up as they went along
(yeah, and the pyramids were built by extraterrestrials...)
Well, it does happen that things percolate in the mind and can come out as
inspiration (c.f. Kekule's dream of the snake biting it's own tail, back
when scientists were still trying to deduce the structure of the carbon
bond). But that happens precisely because a person has acquired a lot of
information, and *is* thinking about the implications of that information.
It does not just happen out of the blue. Even if one is a true genius,
there is always, first, the absorbtion of information. IOW, some form of
learning and discipline. And some form of intent.
Michaelangelo's description of "releasing the sculpture from the stone" was
IMo a metaphoric answer to what was essentially an unanswerable question
("how do you do what you do?") The creative process is still a mystery of
brain function - science doesn't know what neurons are organized in what
way to lead to any given creative process. So Michaelangelo, several
hundred years ago, gave the only answer possible, which was a metaphorical
one. And probably the one that was least likey to get him burned at the
stake =8-o !
IMO, any really creative person *knows* they're special, simply because if
they weren't, *everyone* would be a creative genius. That isn't the case.
False humility can be awfully annoying, but OTOH, I can see people adopting
such a stance because the common sorts will always cry "Conceit!" when a
person acknowledges being gifted. IMO it's part of the common mind being
unable to distinguish Constitutional/legal equality from "to be equal,
everyone has to be the exact same as me".
Yeah, you're right on that one. Three is a lot out there that's "all flash
and no substance". most poeple, like little children, are mesmerized by
anything that shines, flashes, glitters.
Mud is a resource, tho'. Technically, anything that can be taken and used
to a purpose other than its original state is a resource. Clay-based mud
makes bricks, therefore it's a resource. Mud with high concentrations of
certian minerals is used in spas as face/body packs, threfore it's a
resource. IOW, I don't hold to that sort of thinking. If you dig up a big
rock from your yard and decide to use it as a garden accent because it has
nice color/graining/etc., then it's a resource. If you eat the leaves of a
certain plant, it's a resorce, ragardless of whether it grows in your yard.
Dandelions are a resource if you like the leaves in salad.
I was just trying to think it through. I often just let that sort fo thing
pass by my glazed eyes, but I wanted to go through this for my own
edification. Thanks to you and Don for helping because you both gave me
new ways to look at this :)
Yes, I did take it out of context, but only because I've seen such phrases
used rather often in the past, IOW in contexts other than this specific
book. I wanted to explore the phrase itself. The book is another matter;
I might get it anyway just to get a look at some different ideas.
Er, except that, firstly, that's "out there" even for *my* penchant for
digressions and tangents - I wouldn't associate curds with ducklings (birds
tend to be lactose-intolerant so it's not a good idea to let them have much
in the way fo dairy products...no matter how much they like ice cream ;) ).
But I didn't think I'd implied that I was using the phrase about "organic
design" to critique the book. I was just trying to clarify my ideas re:
the idea(s) related to the statement of "letting archetecture happen" and
the implication that "organic" means "to discard intent, logic, reason,
and/or planning" - again, simply beause I've heard/read similar ideas and
statements expressed in contexts other than that of this specific book.
If I seems to imply I was using that to critique the book, I'm sorry I was
not more clear that such a critique wasn't my intent.
No, tell em what you *really* think <LOL!> No, seriously - I think you're
That's one that I used to like (in my 20's and early 30's) but which, now
that I'm older (more mature? More rational??), seems like hooey.
The thing is that there are any number of solutions that can look
completely harmonious with a given site. Which isn't to say that it isn't
very easy to install or build something that look totally out of place.
Just that the phrase seems now to be meaningless. More meaningful, IMO, is
"harmonious with the site", "complements, and is complemented by, its
surroundings", or similar descriptions.
As I thought more and more about that phrase (as you quoted it, but also in
its other permutations), I realised that no man-made structure *can*
truthfully look like it "just grew there naturally; just sprang up". Human
creation is deirected by the human mind, and therefore, if nothing else, is
less fractal/chaotic (in the sense of Strange Attractors), IOW less
infinitely variable. The human mind is driven to classify, group, order
things, so as to make sense of an infinitely variable world.
IOW, it's an oxymoron to say that a man-made stucture can (or should) look
"entirely natural" so to speak.
At any rate, I'm glad it's not "just me" who thinks it's a bit "goofy".
I agree (with the stipulation that "explanation" is not the same as "having
a system" for lack of a better phrase - I think there is a lot of thought
that goes into good design; it might not be completely conscious thought,
either, as there is some level at which the artist's mind takes in,
classifies, and reorganizes visual, and other sense, inputs, so as to
create that which is recognized as being good design; but there is also,
IMO, a good deal of conscious thought and planning behind good design -
thre are a few rules, just as there are a few rules for composing the
elements in a 2-dimensional visual work that help communicate the artist's
idea/reaction/feeling regarding the subject).
Aw geez, you've done it, Don. You can't feed me that line without
*demanding* that I respond:
"It's not irrelevant: it's a hippopotamus."
(Obscure reference to the English satircal songwriting duo, Flanders &
Swann...I'll go sit in the corner, now...)
Architectural and topographical historian
((I figure you meant "wouldn't...)) Unfortunately, I don't think that (the
use of local materials) is necessarily what people mean when they say
"sprang up" (or grew or other similar variants).
I can understand "integrated with the site", "harmonious with the site",
but I no longer am comfortable with descriptions such as "sprang up from
the site". The problem is that, even in the case of dwellings/spaces that
are hewn from living rock (e.g., the opal mining area of Australia, or that
famous undergorund complex in China - whose name I can't bring to mind at
this moment...), they are obviously Human works, which precludes the idea
of "something that just grew there".
It might just be a semantic argument, "splitting hairs" so to speak, but I
increasingly think that attempts to deny the humaness of these wroks is a
disservice to constructive human inventiveness.
I do think and believe that humans should work in cooperation with nature,
because, given all I've seen, read, and deduced from observation, it seems
evident that it's self-destructive to propagate the fantasy that we can
simply bulldoze, control, or even eliminate nature. But wroking with
nature is different from the idea that humans can somehow just sit back and
"let things happen" - IMO, that idea is based upon the assumption that
nature is benevolent. nature is not benevolent, nor is it malevolen - it
simply is what it is; it's been described as being "indifferent", but even
that word implies some sort of sentience or capacity for intent, and I'm
hard-pressed to find evidence of such intent.
That's my basic objection to that whole group of descriptions and ideas
(i.e., the "sprang up", "appears to be a work of nature" group).
I think academia has an important place in society and culture in general,
but I also think that far too many *pseudo*academics seek to exert too much
By pseudoacademic, I mean people who were able to do the tasks
(memorization, regurgitation, and a few bits of data recombination)
necessary to gain an advanced degree, but haven't got the intelligence
(creative thought capable of independent ideas) to actually think their way
out of a paper sack. I've worked and/or socialized with all sorts of
people, from laid-off fishermen to clerks to PhD linguists and analysts, to
a Nobel candidate, to high-level gov.t and industry (pharma) types, and if
there is one thing I know for certain, it is that education in and of
itself does not automatically indicate intelligence, and conversely, lack
of education does not automatically indicate stupidity.
Everything is fair game for analysis and thought. Especially people who
*seek* to be in the limelight, *seek* to be "renowned experts". There is a
different between an intelligent expert, and someone who is simply famous
because of an ability to convince (or dupe) other people into believing
that someone's words to be the Last Word.
((BTW I do like the phrase "jello-headed journalists"<L!>; it seems
especially apt when I think of some of the awful writing and absurd
"analyses" that I've seen.))
"Made from" is IMP an apt description, but "sprang up from", as in, "just
let architecture/building happen" while somehow dispensing with plannig or
"human manipulation" goes into the realm of fantasy.
I'm less polite; I just say "idiotic blither" ;)
A cave naturally happens. Architecture, as a result of a masterbuilder
(to go back to the original definition) is by definition, man/woman
manipulating the environment to make something. Sounds like these
'authors' don't know their English.
Not only is it too warm and fuzzy, it's a downright impossibility. I'd
like to see the Empire State Building 'just happen'. Hell, I'd like to
see a tepee 'just happen'.
People who make such claims have no idea what they're talking about.
Give them a hammer and chisel and have them sculpt a stone tracery
element like those found on the ribbed vaults of some cathedrals. I bet
after a week they'll be claiming that those stone traceries could only
come about by the hand of God.
The facts are that Gothic cathedrals came out of a long history of good
stone building, with plenty of failures and fixes and redresses and
corrections, over the course of hundreds of years, starting with the
ornamental motifs of Byzantium and proceeding on to the grander idea of
extruding a roman basilica 'as high as it can go- to touch the sky'.
Gothic builders did not know calculus, and they didn't have computer
modeling, but they had the tools and above all the skill to do it, and
do it well.
The whole idea that design and building somehow naturally flow out of
an ecological 'fountainhead' flies in the face of thousands of years of
human history, history rich with building traditions, techniques, tools
and trades all striving (where needed or requested, or imposed) to
achieve a well functioning/good looking building. That's 99%
perspiration and 1% inspiration. The only thing 'flowing' here is the
sweat of the people involved in building.
Fortunately, design is a matter of application and refinement more than
it is a matter of spilling ideas, and skill is matter of hard work as
much as it is talent. If it weren't like this, there would be no reason
to strive for anything, which would mean the end of our humanity.
(listening to Mozart's Requiem)
Going with the idea of technicians - they are low-level technicians of
English in that they seem to know how to use basic grammar. "Meaning",
however, is always far more elusive.
That's a good way to put it.
You mena they didn't?!?!
Sorry, just I couldn't resist! But re: stonework, I got the "brilliant"
<cough!> idea of making a dish-shaped "hole" in one of the backyard granite
boulders (this was back in Massachusetts) to be a birdbath. So I go out, I
get me a chisel and mallet and so on, and I proceed to pound away at this
big rock. Let's just say that I developed a *very* healthy respect for
stonemasons! When I think of people chipping out sculptures without the
benefit of modern steel and modern power tools, it makes me look at older
works with that much more awe for the sheer will that was involved not only
in putting up the cathedrals, but pretty much everything.
Yup. Part of the problem these days is that people are forgetting how to
do even simple things without computers, calculators, and the like.
Well said :)
Even in nature-based decoration/design, the result is the projection of a
human idea/interpretation, the projection of the Mind onto, into, a
physical medium and form.
Downright post-apocalyptic. To digress tangentially: the "rise of the
machines" so to speak (as in, the SF genre of post-apocalyptic scenarios) -
total ignorant superstition being the flip side of totally mechanistic.
Both are a descent. Nevertheless, some people push for one or the other to
become a reality.
That's why it bothers me when people treat words as having whatever meaning
they want, the result being that words have no meaning - there's a sort of
fundamental logic that gets ignored, and ignorance leads to descent, a
stepping downards and backwards.
Requiem, interesting - trying here to mentally compose music and
acconpanying words as a srot of requiem for my sister. First build it in
the mind, then try to get the right notes onto paper, then to MP3. Even
music does not "just happen", and music is archetectural to me, just as
architecture is musical. Both unfold, in the mind, through space and time.
I enjoy nature sceintifically and aesthetically, but find it insulting that
some people try to negate the intentional/willful act (ability?) of
creation and replace it with something that occurs "out there" somewhere.
I did some research into Deborah Gans and Zehra Kuz.
Gans is a partner at Gans & Jelacic - a New York firm with Architecture
in its name, but its soul elsewhere. Their website is light on
pictures, heavy on words. Their projects? Mostly apartments and
interiors - all of them presumably hip and avant garde in a faddish way.
Real, bread and butter projects with real clients and real budgets are
tough to find in there - almost as tough to find as honest to God
pictures of their work. One can easily surmise that Architecture, for
Gans & Jelacic is a night job - the people in the firm make their living
teaching arquitektuur students at Pratt how to draw pretty pictures and
talk about them. According to their website
(http://www.gansandjelacic.com /) they taught at many other universities
before Pratt. (*Sigh* - this is precisely what is wrong with
architecture education in the US, but I digress)
Zehra Kuz has her own firm in Norwalk, Connecticut - Oasis Design. Like
Gans, she has built strikingly few projects. Unlike Gans, her firm's
website (http://www.oasisdesignlab.com ) does have pictures of her work.
And the projects are a bit better than the ones done by Gans & Jelacic
(at least, the ones that are visible). It's hard to tell whether Kuz is
a professor of Architecture - which implies (to me at least) that she
must be independently wealthy, rich enough to take only clients who
allow her to design cool stuff - and live in Norwalk, CT. Not
honorable, really, but alot better than her co-author in that she's not
filling architecture students with theory at the expense of construction.
My two cents.
The book they wrote may be interesting. But more and more I'm
frustrated with the limitless writings and limited built works of those
we hold up as leaders in our field. With that, I will stop writing this
I don't think it's a digression at all. in a way, this entire topic
increasingly seems to me to be both a metaphor of, and direct example of, a
great deal that is wrong with all sorts of things.
"All flash, no substance."
Anyone can write a book. Doing so doesn't make them an authority - but a
great many (?most?) people act as tho', and evidently believe, it does.
[ ... ]
...as leaders in *ANY* field, be it commercial, private, or governmental...
Architcture is not something you act , it's something you work.
I don't belive it's not possible, that good design and beautifull
buildings, can be the result of theoretic casting , some ,one even a
few class designers proberly could do splendid architecture , but that
Do't mean that hands on aproach and experience even skills would make a
vorse or better, not even equal as beautifull architecture, still I
personaly expect a better feel a vider vision , to come from hands on
If architecture is about building the cheapest most beautifull houses
,there are no reson ,not to try something that acturly work digital,
suggest new assembly methods make 3D volumes from simple 2D sections
,eithout any of the skills required today , these structures are a new
world , --- digital wasn't just made, to replace the old methods just
faster and safer , still it don't work that way. As even digital could
today provide a cheaper dovetail, than a Banged-in standard steel
fitting with way to many holes , even supporting the old way's digital
never show it's true potential.
Open your eyes guy's , don't you see you have the architecture you
deserve, the cramped bad crafts, the corrupted spreadsheed , the
expensive and cold buildings mashines can make, The cold edgy
buildings are sketched not worked not nice and not efficient.
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