Monday, 9 June 2014


Le Corbusier nearly had six points of a new architecture, but thought five (like three musketeers, or seven dwarfs) sounded better. The sixth was 'built in wardrobes', which also hardly rolls off the tongue, but is documented in his book about his lectures in South America- Precisions. Doubtless he was fatigued by all that bulbous, gloomy French furniture for which my uncle in Houston had a taste, and which I presume at this moment, and at great cost, is being containered back to Alsace. Old French furniture can be formidable stuff, and just the opposite of what we might see as a wardrobe these days, something flat packed that will self destruct within weeks.
However wardrobes would seem to be important- perhaps L-C was right- storage space is at a premium and we have more and more junk to put away somewhere. Architects seem to worry about clothes, so you'd think they'd worry about where to put them. So imagine my surprise when I was looking at some plans of some wibbly wobbly architecture du jour. First I thought the lift was too big, then the escape stairs, then I realised the bathrooms were very small and then I caught some unfortunate door swings. Then I noticed that it looked very tricky to walk around one particular bed without pressing yourself against a bit of cladding. All this added up to a place where you'd be hard pressed to hang clothes, and this a building by an internationally recognised architect.
Architects are sensitive to the term starchitect, but when you come across such evidence you wonder. All the research in the world had gone in to the form of this building, but clearly not in to living in it. I couldn't sleep for that bloody Genesis song (from 'Selling England by the Pound') 'I know what I like (and I like what I know) in your Wardrobe' and it wasn't getting better.
The following night the nightmare returned, but this time I was thinking that my thoughts on wardrobes just made me out to be REALLY PROSAIC; that I was somehow missing the point, and that the beds that I'd picked on were a joke especially played on people like me- people who think the best bits of Finlandia Hall are the imaginative cloakrooms; that the walls were only drawn in this case for the estate agents, and that ideally the thing was really just a series of swish lofts where you could flop where you wanted, with whom you wanted, clothed or not.
This week I'll be looking at all sorts of wibbly wobbly stuff from students, stuff which is bound to raise a few eyebrows, but armed with such qualms and self doubts I think I've discovered my litmus test for whether it should be the thumbs-up or thumbs-down for any scheme; there has to be at least somewhere to put your clothes (or spacesuits) as appropriate.
Then I shall return to roost in the History and Theory base room and think, 'Umm...wardrobes! What a great dissertation subject!'

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