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Thread: Radical architecture

  1. #1
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    Radical architecture

    I mean radical in the socio-political-economic sense. I've noticed Lebbeus Woods. Any other suggestions? I'm a obviously a noob.

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    Cyburbian JimPlans's avatar
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    Hmmmmm.

    Architecture and war are not incompatible. Architecture is war. War is architecture. I am at war with my time, with history, with all authority that resides in fixed and frightened forms. I am one of millions who do not fit in, who have no home, no family, no doctrine, no firm place to call my own, no known beginning or end, no "sacred and primordial site." I declare war on all icons and finalities, on all histories that would chain me with my own falseness, my own pitiful fears. I know only moments, and lifetimes that are as moments, and forms that appear with infinite strength, then "melt into air." I am an architect, a constructor of worlds, a sensualist who worships the flesh, the melody, a silhouette against the darkening sky. I cannot know your name. Nor you can know mine. Tomorrow, we begin together the construction of a city.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lebbeus_Woods#cite_note-2

    Um, yeah.

    That paragraph makes me think of brutalism. It's fitting that the prime example of brutalism in that Wikipedia article is Boston City Hall, a functionally poor excuse for a building and one of my most un-favorite buildings of all time. It's also a fitting name, as brutalism and its early proponent Le Corbusier have been responsible for brutalizing urban landscapes ever since 1950.

    I'm no fan of "radical" architects, as you can probably tell. The most "radical" architecture is that which serves its users and its community well without pretension. Not much of that around anymore.

  3. #3
    The problem with people who hold these views, in my opinion, is that they are as imperialistic and totalitarian as anything they say they are opposing. Except that it is too articulate, couldn't George W. Bush have said the same thing about his Middle East policies?

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    Scope of this thread...?

    Quote Originally posted by lawlz View post
    I mean radical in the socio-political-economic sense. I've noticed Lebbeus Woods. Any other suggestions? I'm a obviously a noob.
    Modern architecture, or any school? What is the earliest radical architecture that you would like to have up for discussion?


    BTW, welcome to Cyburbia!

  5. #5
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Well....

    Quote Originally posted by Seana View post
    Modern architecture, or any school? What is the earliest radical architecture that you would like to have up for discussion?


    BTW, welcome to Cyburbia!
    When I think of radical architecture I think of this:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:De...n_building.jpg

    So for me it is mostly a physical design thing, not some state of mind for a specific designer
    Skilled Adoxographer

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    Mies Van der Rohe...its so radical its boring
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

  7. #7
    Cyburbian fringe's avatar
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    OK I'll bite.

    Lawlz is fishing for opinions?

    I have the advantage of no formal education in architecture, which I think is sort of like music.

    What is important is the intervals between the notes, not the notes themselves.

    Ergo, what matters is the spaces enclosed by the buildings.

    Too easy to get hung up on physical forms and looks.

    It is the feel that matters, and it is hard to predict the feeling prior to the erection of structure.

    If it works at all, architecture has social/political/etc impact.

    Don't try to sell such conjecture to the local governing body however. The real thing has to be supported like art is.

    I never was in a Mies house, but I have been to the Vietnam Memorial, and really could FEEL that space.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally posted by JimPlans View post
    Hmmmmm.

    I take his quote differently, that he is at war with the norms of his profession. He is rebelling. He has no community, and no history to build upon. I think his focus on war throughout his work is symbolic. IDK. I don't really fit in architecture, and I'm trying to find theorists that have really attacked the socio-political foundations of architecture.

    Environmentally, architecture seems to be built on modernization theory, which thoroughly reduced is that the problems of development can be solved through more development, that societies will value the environment one they are affluent enough. On the surface, this sort of makes sense, but its been disproved by several sociologists (Rosa, Dietz, York, Jorgenson, and others).

    I take the opposite stand, that of radical political economy. Modern societies appear to value the environment more, but that is because their polluting industries have been shipped to other countries. Furthermore, if India and China build modern industrial economies as the US has - if they develop as we have - the planet will be finished.

    Sorry, this is quick and dirty environmental sociology. I dropped out of architecture school and studied math and sociology. I might go back to arch if I think I can carve out a niche.
    Last edited by Gedunker; 07 Apr 2009 at 3:35 PM. Reason: fixed quote tag

  9. #9
    Here is something the great Catherine Bauer said about Modernism that is applicable:

    Modernism was supposed to be based on science, but because there was little research to support any kind of building, "The three leaders [Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, and Gropius] who had embraced “science” reverted to the old prima donna architect’s role, little concerned with the application of advanced technology and social science to the human environment.”

    Would we do any better?

  10. #10
    Cyburbian cellophane's avatar
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    lebbeus woods is in a world unto his own. there are others with odd views but he is somewhere off in left field (in a completely different ballpark.)

    historically a large number new movements start with radical ideas about society, architecture, politics and what have you that are gradually toned down and adapted into a form that can be sold to clients. the most out there group i can think off the top of my head that werent subject to this were the futurists. the only reason it didnt happen is because they were all killed in WWI.

    the war and architecture is actually a pretty good read and taken out of context i can see being related to all kinds of things. the project itself was a reaction to the war in bosnia in the early 90's and was a series of "scab" proposals to repair the broken city form and buildings.

  11. #11
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    You want radical?

    The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao designed by Frank Gehry. I'd like to get my hands on some of the stuff he was smoking...although I'd like to visit.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guggenheim_Museum_Bilbao

  12. #12
    Cyburbian cellophane's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by RichmondJake View post
    The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao designed by Frank Gehry. I'd like to get my hands on some of the stuff he was smoking...although I'd like to visit.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guggenheim_Museum_Bilbao
    that design was good once. the other 15 buildings he has done since that all look identical are boring and uninspired...

  13. #13
    The only problem with that quote in my opinion is that architecture really doesn't live up to its aims.

    Who is [contemporary] architecture at war with? Other architects?

    In reality, the only thing architecvture is really battling is beaux-arts architecture. Le Corbusier versus tea room objets d'art?

    I guess you could argue that a building can change the image of a city but I don't think it is necessarily a permanent consideration. People will eventually grow accustom to the visual imagery and it will slowly fade out of concern.

    You could also argue that a buildings inputs and outputs can drastically change an economy-- few architects are planners or economic development specialist in reality. I think planning considerations play a bigger role here.

    Architecture really isn't as impressive as architects make it out to be and it is not some end all form of art-- at least in my opinion. Why battle vernacular architecture? What is so wrong with beaux-arts architecture?

    I feel while architects and planners can be a bit over-educated... their education is rarely rounded or whole. For people concerned with aesthetics and history, few [planners and architects] have ever learned either formally.

    Moreso, a lot of history tends to be war-centric and a lot of war history really isn't as important either if you're looking at the history of place. There's exceptions to this sure but the history of cultural practices and of places tends to tell you more about a society than a war fought. War, in and of itself, is defined by places and how those places can industrially and materially support a war-- so, more or less, the history of place is an exceptional tool few understand.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian kalimotxo's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by RichmondJake View post
    The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao designed by Frank Gehry. I'd like to get my hands on some of the stuff he was smoking...although I'd like to visit.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guggenheim_Museum_Bilbao
    I spent a semester studying in Bilbao during undergrad; our school was directly across the river from this monster. It really is an amazing sight. The sculptures around the building are huge and kind of nightmarish. The interior architecture was the most impressive aspect to me - it feels surprisingly organic for a building that looks like a pile of twisted sheet metal.

    Unrelated, but anyone who has not been to Bilbao should absolutely visit. It's probably the cleanest, safest larger city in Spain. The history, cuisine, people, architecture, and surrounding geography are amazing. It's highly walkable, but mass trans is very accessible, affordable, and clean. A raincoat will be necessary.
    Process and dismissal. Shelter and location. Everybody wants somewhere.

  15. #15

    radical architecture

    Rather than classifyling architecture as radical / non radical, I think that such buildings should be classed only in term of their success. Now for a 'radical' building its primary objective is often to provide a new spatial experience, to generate a sense of fun or amazement. Perhaps a joy that we rarely find in the built environment around us. There are 'radical' buildings which, in my opinion do not achieve this (for example the Lebiskind building in the link posted earlier). Im my opinion this building is not successful as it carries little real beauty and is very similar to many of lebeskind's other projects such as London Metropolitan, Holloway Road. However, many such buildings are amazing and are successful as radical architecture - that is they generate joy and wonder, perhaps at the slight sacrifice of rational function and regular interior space. One example of such a successful building is Zaha's Center in Wolfsburg, Germany. In this case the beauty of the building more than compensates for this sacrifice!

    http://www.architectureforlondon.co.uk

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