Apolitical Architecture - wtf?


Okay, yes, I'm quite a newbie when it comes to architecture, but as a participant-observer in this society I feel like I can, justifiably, make some crude connections here between the status quo and its edifices.

The most political architects/theorists don't seem to build too much, such as L. Woods - and how could he? Who honestly would be able to enjoyably live within his designs? Or view it without a feeling of malaise? It wouldn't pass building codes and I doubt any city would allow a viral visage next to the grocier. Blahblahblah.

Architecture pushes boundaries, definitely, but in what ways? Aesthetically, structurally - is that saying enough? Using different materials, utilizing "green architecture" - is this enough? Does that speak strongly enough to the building's audience? Or does it need to be disgusting, ornamented, or a spectacle to grab attention; so that it is not viewed as every other facade - so that it does not become the 'white noise' of the general person's life?

What would YOU guys design and build if it lacked consequence/censorship in order to express yourselves? What do you REALLY want to say?

I know this isn't PRACTICAL, but that is not my intention. I also understand that beauty, too, captivates.

I'm curious, so subdue my prying mind; discuss.

Jan 23, 06 3:14 pm

Please refer to my portoflio,
I did a few projects that I feel are political.

Look at the process of NY1 in which I did an imaginary map of a hot dog vendor and a UN diplomat. i used it to design a skyscraper.

one page is missing, so you dont get the whole project, sorry. I used the proximity of the chrch in this little town in Mexico and the bullfighting ring, to design a parochial school with a large space to look at bullfights.

Used the landscpae to create 3 corporate owned structures with individual houses for new immigrants in the best park in Vicenza. The houses are sponsored by corporations os they are free for families starting out in the new country. This one became a bit controversial, most people liked it, some thoguht it wa abd joke, and some thought it was nothing more than "ironic" architecture. it is still on of my personal favorites. The question I asked my self is how can consumerist/capitalist society help those less fortunate? Another question was how can a xenophobic city like Vicenza begin to accept the flux of its citizenry?

These are some examples of what I think I would do (and hope to do more of in the future).

Jan 23, 06 3:28 pm  · 

Too bad I have to go to class, I will return later...

but +q, especially with VIC, I sympathize with you and mostly agree with you, but then I have to ask who will hold these corporations responsible, and then, mostly, why SHOULD they be responsible?

I dislike also our globalizing trends of consumerism/capitalism (at least for the 'key players', i.e. - developed nations/world powers)... but I am not optimistic about people's attitudes towards immigrants (especially with the rising fundamentalism going on, ugh) and especially immigrants and welfare. I mean, especially when there 'indigenous' poverty exists, and then we help "those" guys. Noble ideas, but would it ever work?

bbl, I'm late to Globalization.

Jan 23, 06 3:50 pm  · 

i'm pretty apolitical and i've never had a strong political message to convey in my projects. sorry, i would just make something really beautiful if i only could. i don't apologize, either.

Jan 23, 06 5:30 pm  · 
el jeffe

nice work +q.

Jan 23, 06 6:26 pm  · 
vado retro

beauty is political...

Jan 23, 06 6:55 pm  · 

Politics is local. I think this true around the planet and for everyone a sense of right and wrong is instinctive and born into us all except for the most criminal. Hopefully we will move past the political, or at least as we know it to be, a josteling for position based scarcity. Politics has no place in Architecture. Only the building counts. That building will go on to inhabited by countless people in various generations each with a unique political ideal. You, Architect, are above political animals.

Jan 24, 06 10:15 am  · 
el jeffe

not so sure about that evil...architects are responsible for the production of a building during the period of time it is created and are by definition responsible/complicit in the process.

Jan 24, 06 10:39 am  · 

complicit - but still has nothing to do with politics of day. As for responsible, thats up to debate. In many ways, only the financier is truely responsible. One could also say its the laborer who is in reality the responsible party who physically moves the materials. I would encourage architects to be opportunists rather idealouges, and leave politics to lesser people.

Jan 24, 06 11:02 am  · 

evilplatypus, I see where you're coming from, but have to agree with el jeffe, although I think politics happens in at least 3 levels, local, state and federal. As you can see lately many state governments are passing energy & pollution laws that override the federal laws. This obviously started by people (local) in the individual states writing letters to their local officials and state reps/senators or taking local petitioning action.

A good book for you to read would be "Some Honorable Men" (Political Conventions 1960-72) by Norman Mailer. In it he describes (as no other author quite can) quite a few buildings which were allowed to be built, especially in Los Angeles, that make the landscape, psyche, and built environment of our country a very sad place indeed.

Meggilicious- "What would YOU guys design and build if it lacked consequence/censorship in order to express yourselves? What do you REALLY want to say?
I know this isn't PRACTICAL, but that is not my intention. I also understand that beauty, too, captivates."

... I say allow architects to design (conceptual design) civic (schools / museums / university etc) buildings. Have taxes from state / local / city government be put in a "hopper" if you will to actually pay local architectural firms to be PAID for the design, (some kind of legislated program) that allows a true "freedom" of design, something perhaps just wished for by everyone who read The Fountainhead, or just for a moment wished a fraction of Frank Lloyd Wright's soul could be magically infused into the minds of our leaders... After all designs have been submitted have 2 "Juries" select the one that wins. The first jury is made up of local respected artists, painters, scuptors, art historians, perhaps even a couple architects / landscape architects. The second jury is made up of ordinary citizens (not CEO's of businesses with agendas) ranging from all walks of life, ages, races and income brackets. Use some kind of points grading system and have a neutral arbitration tally the scores. I think this way we would have more freedom of expression AND choice... simultaneously. This is probably too fantasional to work in our "Capitalistic system" though. But it would be nice to try it.

Jan 24, 06 7:26 pm  · 

Thanks el jeffe.

evilplatypus, your post originally discouraged me from continue to post, it seemed like a very cynical point of view. But then I went home and thought about it, and saw the genius in what you say. An then thought that is basically rem koolhaas' position. he will play whatever games he wants in his books, but his buildings are more oportunistic than truly political. And I find his building lacking a certain soul, specially beacuse of what he does in his books.

Anyway, its an itneresting thing to think about and even debate.

Jan 25, 06 11:45 am  · 

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