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Friday, May 27, 2005
A couple of broadsides against contemporary architecture, for argument's sake. 'Science, Pseudo-Science, and Architecture', by Catesby Leigh, states baldly that 'the social justification for the industrialization of architecture had evaporated'. The piece goes on to blame modernism for the destruction of 'traditional architectural culture,' and the corresponding rise of 'ersatz-traditional [housing] schlock', which reminds us of the architect who said 'But to blame Le Corbusier [for the Ronan Point disaster] is like blaming Mozart for Muzak' (cited in this paper, Home, by the artist and photographer Lisa Anne).

A similar story can be found in Dr Joachim Langhein's essay Proportion and Traditional Architecture, published at the International Network for Traditional Buildings, Architecture and Urbanism. Langhein kicks off with a contradiction. 'Twentieth century architecture sought above all to be "scientific", but it managed only to achieve the status of a pseudo-science'. Perhaps. But the very next sentence reads 'Guiding ideas like "Form follows function" or "Less is more" found broad acceptance with architects, those who teach architecture, and building owners.' These two famous quotes, attributed to Louis Sullivan and Mies van der Rohe respectively, are surely the antithesis of a procedural scientific approach, sound-bites for a pre-media age that continue to be blamed for all of society's ills. But wasn't it quite the opposite? As Jan Michl's 'Form follows What?' speculates, 'form follows function 'inaugurated and legalized an era of a surreptitiously formalist approach to architecture and design'. In other words, things might not have actually been functional, but given modernism's infinite adaptability of form (contradicting both Langhein and Leigh above), the impression of a servile functionalist utopia was unassailable. We're back to Muzak again.

*

Other things. Two more provocations from Limited Language, 'Illustrators, rather like women in the Bible...' and 'Boredom, b'dumb, b'dumb...' / a la carte, tips, hints and recipes / Turquoise Days, an mp3 weblog / identifying classic Glastron powerboats. Related (as the TV batboat was also a Glastron), the history of the Batmobile (via me-fi and 0lll). More utopian-image puncturing at The Register. Noting drily that Burt Rutan apparently believes that 'Space tourism will save the children', Thomas C Greene writes disparagingly that 'suggesting that mass space tourism could possibly inspire the next generation of Alan Sheppards is to suggest that Carnival cruises have been inspiring the next generation of Jacques Cousteaus' (via Rossignol).

Monica, 'a really rare automobile' / consumptive changes focus / photographyblog / Modernista offers reproductions and originals of Czech and Bauhaus design / Re-visit the story of Joseph Zoettl's grotto / hi-tech guitar case / an amazing site about St Petersburg's Architecture / different lightbulbs create very different colours / Ex-soviet union music, an mp3 log.