Back to the drawing board

Just got done with my midterm review – a lot of good feedback, but it looks like I’ll have to start pretty much from scratch.

The project is live-work housing for artists. One thing I think I’ll keep is the communal space on top:

I also kind of like the effect I got on the elevation, but since I’ll be moving circulation space off the facade, it’ll probably stay in the form of loggias or balconies:

Architectural project

I’ve been thinking what my long-term architectural project could be. I don’t care much about form, except as the icing on the functional cake, so to speak. Then again bad icing can spoil a perfectly decent cake. Though I’ve often been accused of being a functionalist, that’s not it either. Functionalism suggests that you either design only for function, which I’ve seen backfire too many times in various ways, or like Koolhaas and his bunch, the use of function/program to suggest a form. While some Koolhaasian architecture (the Seattle Public Library, for one) is admittedly really good, much of it gets stuck in gratuitously weird territory.

OMA’s Hyperbuilding project – fantastic or just weird?

Then there’s the issue of newness – is newness a good thing of itself? Should we strive to come up with “The New”? What’s the point of that? Being new doesn’t guarantee being good, though it hardly seems worthwhile to tread water repeating old patterns. Unless – wait – one understands the goal of architecture to be the design of functional, usable and esthetically pleasing buildings.

What I’m thinking is more of a typological approach – you get standard types, and depart from them only if something forces you to. For instance, an office building would be a typical open-floor stack of slabs dressed in glass, unless some requirement forces you to change something about it. In that instance aesthetics could be taken care of by elevation and interior design. Substantive departures could result from usage and environmental factors, but should be no greater than required to do the job they’re intended for.

I guess I am a functionalist at heart, though I’m thinking this is more of a “reduce-reuse-recycle” architecture than the Modernist version. But is “functionalism with a human face” good enough?

D’Arcy Thompson Strikes Back

Having ridiculed the  literal treatment of D’Arcy Thompson’s esoteric ideas about form on several occasions (not to mention attempts to apply them directly in architecture), I was somewhat dumbstruck when I saw this:

Our world may be a giant hologram – New Scientist

Now if that ain’t the ultimate epigenetic plane story, I don’t know what could be. However, though I’m not sure if I understand it correctly, it seems that unlike Sanford Kwinter’s take on Thompson, this says nothing about individual free will (while Kwinter’s IMO is the apex of determinism).

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Lebbeus Woods on authenticity

Another star performance by Lebbeus Woods:

“Architecture has become more popular today than ever before. Its popularity does not come from the ways it improves the everyday lives of most people—as modernists like Gropius once hoped it would—but rather because of the ‘brand names’ now associated with its status as a consumer product.”

Come to think of it, that’s enough to get ol’ Walter Benjamin doing flips in his grave.