Thursday, 27 September 2012

Bad Metaphors

Kevin McCloud is back, twice a week! So the air is once more awash, the hills alive (whatever) with bad metaphor. There are some good metaphors in architecture, when Le Corbusier uses a giant ear for listening to god, or kidney shapes for dividing the sacred and the profane, or even when he decides the roof is going to be a cloister, he does so with care and attention, it may sound flippant but it never is. Meanwhile Zaha has been described most eloquently by Jonathan Meades as 'oragami in a hurry', so this shows metaphor and simile can be useful.
But in McCloud's case, it sounds flippant and is desperate. Why would, for instance, you wish to describe your house as an ice cube? OK, there was a certain frigidity in the interiors last night, and these days it has become the norm for architects to a) hide all worldly goods and b) evacuate all air and c) lie on a sun lounger on the roof while their photovoltaics make them some money while partners slave away at selling Weetos, but describing your house as an ice cube only works on TV, where given the very medium, it's difficult to say anything sensible at all. It sure is not a bona fide metaphor for a house unless you are an Eskimo.
But I've heard worse. Peter Cook has a housing scheme going up somewhere proudly described as a 'beach'. I don't know why you would want to describe your housing complex as a beach, presumably it's too hot, boring and you've always got sand in your underpants. However this one is a beach because it 'has layers' and 'round edges' and 'pebbles' on it. It is also lime green in parts, so perhaps it's a cocktail on the beach; sex on the beach. Meanwhile, as king of the awful architectural raison d'etre, he has a ninety story skyscraper (or thereabouts) which he describes as 'like hanging old socks'. Presumably this means it will grow holes, and be darned, and so on, perhaps even become symbolically comfortable. If I was working on such a thing I'd quickly lose the will to live. Unfortunately because everybody seems to have given up having good reason for doing buildings, this crap is everywhere.

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