Thursday, September 07, 2006

Before and again i've been asked: why architecture? (why design?) and most of the time i cannot launch into the spectrum. But right now, here's the answer: it's the world. Structures dont stop at serving their purpose. They're letting on a world of aspects: the entity who commisioned it, the personality who designed it, the ethic(s) of the workers who realized it - unitarian?disparate? finally overcome by the mission?, their languages, their songs, the history they were born in, the culture they shared or didn't with those for whom the structures were created, the class divisions, who it inconvenienced, who it pleased, the materials used - were they from the area, impact on surroundings, how the materials weathered, how it responded to the sun and wind and elements soon after, how they appeared later, disaster contingent foresight, the detail and finishing, internally and externally, the living things and light and air admitted, excluded, tamed; if it harmonized or redefined at the line of vision, public or private, the imitation, originality, the recognition of the local, the disregard, the courage to pay obeisance to no culture but think newly appropriately, inappropriately? And for me above all the impression and at what removal it changes. Passionate, inventive, exotic, magnificent, assured, harmonic, euphoric, exulting, masterful, muscular, tame, daunting, frivolous, unconvincing, playful, flamboyant, thrilling.

This could go on for a long page that touches everything there is we know and are still finding out about as scientific humans. My architecture companion I blew my careful savings on is giving me great pleasure. But one of the featured modern works that caught my attention is the J M Tjibaou Cultural Centre, New Caledonia. By Renzo Piano. It gets mentioned twice, but not at much length. Meanwhile, take a better look at it. It's a celebrated example of what's called abstract vernacular architecture. Using slats (of local iroko wood) that respond to winds to ventilate the interiors, Piano was inspired by the local Kanak huts. Mike Austin has made some interesting points.
posted by Finny Forever at 11:24 PM


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