Posts Tagged ‘architecture is not a product’

Last week I was reeling from hearing a contractor repeatedly referring to Architecture projects as ‘products’ (can you please stop talking about Architecture as a manufacturing industry? thankyou) and from seeing this noble profession hijacked by what one student referred to as ‘technicians‘.

Vitruvius, Le Corbu, are your tired bones  spinning in your graves? They will soon design a software that, given site parameters and local codes will design the building by itself (look ma, no architect!). If they are not about to launch it already. As my friend Andrew Duncan said, we are looking at a software company deciding the future of architecture projects in this country, in form of who owns the -increasingly more sophisticated- computer models/simulations of buildings. And thus the nail in the coffin, the relevance of our profession is eroded, while we just sit and watch, and clap at the latest computer wizardry. What is it called when people clap at their impending demise?

I am so tired of seeing the creativity of our young architects being sapped by the grueling process it takes to be a ‘licensed architect’ here in U.S. And yes, it is just here and Canada, because everywhere else in the world you are an architect after having proven worthy of an architecture degree and after a standard, brief, state exam. So we/you are all architects in my eyes.

So as I was saying, I was a bit demoralized.  But then, during our Le Corbusier’s seminars, my students put these quotes up (underlining is mine):

I repeat: a work of art must have its own special character.

Clear statement, the giving of a living unity to the work, the giving it a fundamental attitude and a character: all this is a pure creation of the mind.

This is everywhere allowed in the case of painting and music; but archtiecture is lowered to the level of its utilitarian purposes: boudoirs, W.C’s, radiators, ferro-concrete, vaults or pointed arches, etc., etc.

This is construction, this is not architecture.

Architecture only exists when there is a poetic emotion.

Art is poetry: the emotion of the senses, the joy of the mind as it measures and appreciates, the recognition of an axial principle which touches the depth of our being.  Art is this pure creation of the spirit which shows us, at certain heights, the summit of the creation to which man is capable of attaining.

And man is conscious of great happiness when he feels that he is creating.

Le Corbusier, Towards a New Architecture. English Ed. 1931

Is it a coincidence that Le Corbusier uses the term Art and Architecture interchangeably?

Construction is for an architect what grammar is for a thinker; the architect should not vegetate there, Le Corb reminds us.

The desired effect is not a mass of grammatical rules, but prose,  or even better, poetry, which not only uses grammar, but trascends it.

Now look around you and tell me how many pedestrian masses of periods and exclamation points surround you, and where does poetry happen (does it at all)?

In class we talked about art being the product of the heart, and architecture the product of the mind.  I knew then these young men and women believe in Architecture, with the capital ‘A’ – not to be confused with building- and everything that it stands for, everything that our ‘architectural heroes’ tell us through the echoes of time, and whispher with their art, their sketches and drawings, their buildings, their irreverent portraits (just as Keating’s poets in Dead Poets Society).

More importantly, these students believe in themselves. Everything then went right in my world.


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