Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Enduring Principles

There is no doubt that there are no enduring principles in architecture, at least not if the behaviour of architectural schools is anything to go by. In fact some schools spend so much time wondering what architecture is they have forgotten. For instance, it is amazing to sit down with a really good book, a real tome, like Leonardo Benevelo's History of the City (which will take up most of your desk) and realise none of it's lavish material is of any interest anymore. I have not heard mention of urbanism, except of the informal kind, for years. Similarly the word 'tectonics' has disappeared too, so nobody learns anything about piling one thing on top of or around another, perhaps we think it happens automatically. Then there's 'typology'; something that we used to be obsessed with; what the hell happened to that?
Because nobody wants to plan anything, nothing is planned, and because we desire everything everything is about 'experience'. This is a shocking and disastrous state of affairs, but an absolutely perfect example that you cannot think something in an atmosphere which is not conducive to thinking it. That's why Nazi Germany didn't need a police force to speak of.
Of course you would like to think, precisely because we enjoy our history and that Benevelo book arrived from Portland Oregon for me today, and I think it's fabulous, that there would be enduring principles, but all that's solid melts in to air, as Marx so pertinently put it, so there aren't. Shame.

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