Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Richard Rogers: The Significance of Team

No sooner had I submitted to my innermost metal head and bought Black Sabbath 13 on vinyl on-line, but Richard Rogers pops up on the TV stopping me from going to bed.
High-Tech architecture has never been much of a style du jour in architectural school. There never seemed to be enough to it to satisfy salivating crit panels. Meanwhile I suspect the effort to do it well is too much for any individual in the first place, since the style is both formally bombastic and nuts and bolts at the same time, and you need a team to do that. Team is the word ringing around my head now that Rogers is all over the media, and without that word team I wouldn't know what to say about him. This is also why high-tech architecture has never faired well in the dissertation writing stakes either,  because not a great deal of people seem to be able to find much to write about it which isn't advertorial- that or nobody else has yet stumbled on the significance of the word team.
One golden nugget was Rogers saying 'I don't know how to be alone' in the Telegraph. You feel you want to put an exclamation mark on the end of that. The greats can be loners, rock bands can be collections of lonely individuals always on the verge of breaking up, but, in essence, teams do not like loners, just like in football, and what is becoming clear is Rogers as the epitome of a team player.
Rogers is famous for failing academically due to chronic dyslexia, but was picked up by Peter Smithson  (Team X) at the AA. Rogers went on to form Team 4. The break up of Team 4 seemed to come down the the irascibility of love. Love doesn't work in teams either, teams are essentially practical, they are neither political nor emotional states, but they do have to be fed, and Rogers could be considered an excellent feeder of his team, since he gave them the River Cafe to eat in, at least for a while until it became crowded out with the New Labour team.
Rogers brilliance, a strange kind of brilliance good dukes and monarchs have to have to stop us revolting, is a kind of bumbling diffidence that is as inexorably pleasant as it is uniquely contrived. Luckily I happened to meet the Duke of Devonshire last week. He has this quality in spades. Meanwhile I read yesterday in the LRB of a French (had to be French) lady commenting to Neal Ascherson in Marseilles  'You still have a queen, so why don't you cut her throat?' to which one should reply 'Because she's a nice old lady!' The Queen has learnt to say nice things. That's how the English system works (since Oliver Cromwell at least) and that's one of the reasons Rogers has been so successful, that and the fact that he managed to explain his piles of nuts and bolts away as Italian hill towns. This has been no mean feat, people buy it somehow, even to the point where his living room is a piazza.
And now he gets to wear lots of funny coloured jackets being totally cool with it all, simple.
Meanwhile this also explains why most malcontent politico artist loners are so unreliable, suspicious of lime green attire, and spend so much time sulking in the long grass (and further, why any mention of team building makes me cringe).

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