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'Good' Architecture.

edited May 2008 in architecture
Good means anything is this country, to anyone. But more often that not, non experts have a say in the matter as well, as Bill Henson has just found out yet again.

While most people in Australia wouldn't dream of a non expert mouthing of about fire fighting or engineering or accounting, give them 12.5 millimeters on any subject that could possibly fit within the descriptor of the arts, and in that I would place architecture, and it's all fair game for even the lowest of the Herald Sun witless brigade. That is the problem of defining what 'good' is when it comes to architecture. I bet my bottom dollar there isn't an architect or designer in this country who hasn't had some friday f-wit client come out with a completely baseless and innane reason on which to argue a point or two which on any expert assesment would be shown to demonstrate the bare faced ignorance of the perpetrator. But do you think we have the right to protest for good manners and consideration on their part that, they might just shut-up and listen to what a university degreed expert and years of experiance might have to say?
I don't f'n care myself, because I have been an 'artist' all my life who has come across hundreds of such know-it-alls and am well trained in telling such people they haven't got a bloody clue of what they are talking about, so come my own architectural qualifications, I will be already well placed to 'decide' what is good or not.
But this and other forums contain many anecdotes of much architectural gymnastics undertaken for the sole reason of accomadating such fools, and I don't understand the meekness. Miles has his notions sorted about how to handle it and apparenetly it displeases him to see the RAIA president's own architectural gymnastics when it comes to sustainability (of which i know nothing and so will not comment further).

My thread goes that it is the mere fact that architecture could and is often classed as an 'Arts' based profession that put it into the position in this country at least and in England to a large degree also, of being something therefore open to all and sundry of the 'chattering classes' to opine upon and therefore also open to corrections and qualifications even to the point of pay scales based upon those very same untrained, unqualified and uncouthe opinions.
My thread goes further to suggest that it is our own fault for not standing up to such fools that achitectural 'expertness' doesn't get the respect that other perhaps and arbitralily so, more 'physics' based professions recieve from the general public.
I refuse to accept some artless twat telling me that my art is worth less than what I say it is. Look out for me when I am qualified and finally get back to the city to open my practise because I won't stand for such dissolution of merit by people too proud of their own gumption to see 'good architecture' for what it is.

Glenn Murcutt has a great quote in Touch This Earth Lightly. (1999 p145)
"They're all placed in the street, as is usual, within the - what I refer to as the fear line, FEAR line, which is the building setback line, all these buildings standing up there in a line in fear of going forward and fear of going back, everybody sitting right there, right on it, ready to go."
Of course you know they're going nowhere, with nothing to say and likely doing nothing especially artful with their lives but making sure they don't step out of line. The mediocrity who are expert at everything and especially art because their conforming with a setback line, that never stopped them building anywhere behind the line, but that's where they 'choose' to build regardless; their mere 'conforming' is the greater qualification to speak about art.
Well why in Gods name, should fully qualified architects also sit dead on the setback line for the sake of pleasing a billion hicks? Do you think an engineer would forgo 'good' engineering for the sake of pleasing an unqualified opinion? Who ever heard of a surgeon asking a patient what the best way of medically saving their life was?
If you think I am drawing a long bow, just think about who was actually in charge of building all those school buildings that collapsed in China just recently and how many thousand of lives are at stake immediately and long into the future, when structures are properly contemplated. Architects are not just artists, they are damn fine highly trained artists and I personally think it is outrageous that any old Tom, Dick and Harriet think they have a right to question it, let alone having architects regularly accepting pay scales based on unqualified opinions.
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Comments

  • edited 3:21AM
    mr seasons
    architects are architects not artists.
    (and stop taking murcutt seriously...its bad for your development. go and read zumthor or shigeru ban.)
  • edited June 2008
    Mr Miles.
    Some architects are artists and some are not.
    Mr Murcutt is in the artists realm, as are Shigeru Ban and Peter Zumthor (I ADORE his Val thermal baths actually). I take it you place yourself in the non artists realm, though I would suggest that is not necessarily to do with your work, but more your interpretation of what an artist is.
    Now to qualify artist. An artist is anyone who creatively expresses a desire on behalf of or in unison with or for society.
    The point is that of expression. If it matches the desire of client (and in here I would include statutory clients and regs), collegues and ones self then the creativity, the artistic endeavour, is deemed successful. If it doesn't then it usually reveals itself as unsuccessful in degrees of matching the various desires involved. The closer it gets to matching only the desire of the creator then the less 'artistic' it is.

    An artist is not a sole practioner who creates only for themselves. That is a toss jockey
  • edited 3:21AM
    RE:"some architects are artists and some are not"
    whenever architects talk about architecture in relation to art i cringe. whether it be in the tall orders of herzog & demeuron or the student "i chose architecture because it is the highest form of art". who cares. it's irrelevant.
    architects are architects.
  • edited 3:21AM
    It's relevant because so much artless shit gets built by so many artless, well, for want of a better term, architects, that the artless general public in this country thinks they don't have to pay for 'architecture' in general.
    In fact paying poor money for bad architecture is so pervasive that a lot of your collegues have a hard time convincing people to pay good money for good architecture.
    The general public can't see the differance and the differance you can see, or maybe you can't, is the level of applied art. It is anything but irrelevant
    When you're reaching for your gun Andrew Goering, check and see if it's a glock or a smith and weston. There is a differance in the applied art of a gun too.
  • edited June 2008
    Further to "architects are architects".
    When 'doing' architecture, the referances you use, be they physics, atmospheric ecology, regulations, clients wishes, your own wishes, materials etc etc (and where really could you stop), are referances that call for a level of 'artistic' sensibility. Your student who chooses architecture because "it is the highest form of art" is refering to that fact that it is in architecture that the most number of different forms of art are involved. The art of assembly, the art of diplomacy, the art of science, the art of balance both asthetic and material, the art of mathematics, the art of sculpture, the art of colour, etc, etc.

    To declare that "art is irrelevant" in the practise of architecture is as sweeping a dismissal of three thousand years of the craft as to say that carpentry is irrelevant to modern structure. You may think that therein is a post post modern validity perhaps, but I would happily call that shear laziness in not wanting to know anything that came before your time. You may ignore it in your own work, but not as a matter of honour and certainly not on the grounds of irrevelance.
    When you say, Andrew, that you cringe when confronted with referance to 'art' by architects, on what grounds can you dismiss it. Do you ignore ecology and physics and mechanical assembly and asthetic assembly? On what then do you base your designs?
  • edited June 2008
    i apologise for leaving myself open for misinterpretation. i didn't mean to say that 'art in architecture' is irrelevent and definately not that the 'art of architecture' is irrelevant. i mean to say that whether architecture is or isn't a form of fine art is irrelevent to the discussion of what good architecture is. architecture should be classified as what it is, architecture. then it can be valued as something beyond cultural (a cultural luxury), taking on its social value (mind you, i see it that a social responsibilty is to provide architecture with cultural value).

    "If it matches the desire of client (and in here I would include statutory clients and regs), collegues and ones self then the creativity, the artistic endeavour, is deemed successful."
    architecture is architecture. it's expression that finds form through constraints and creative subjectivity simultaneously. it's inherently ambiguous. a 'successful art piece' can intentionally dismiss the constraints whilst containing high cultural value as an idea. 'successful architecture' cannot.

    "doing nothing especially artful with their lives"
    ..a tad elitist, huh? if you want to design buildings for people, give them some respect. i loath melbourne's suburbs as much as anyone, but i'm also a middleclass bourgeois student who's parents are happy enough to feed me so i can learn about how crap the house they built over my head is. and anyway isn't a large aspect of art the appreciation of life? by which means a walk around any lived in street no matter how unarchitectural provides plenty for abstraction, contemplation and inspiration for your own architectural exploration. the people who live in the houses might be ______________ (insert 'artless' profession), but the way they live is what architecture exploits to be 'good'.
  • edited June 2008
    I'm not a Murcutt fan. Not since seeing the documentary on his house for the Aboriginal couple. I think he deceided they should live in a shipping container with shutters operated with hatchback gas struts.

    I almost thought it was a parody with the couple nodding agreement in the background.
  • edited June 2008
    In the following post I quote both Andrew and myself

    "I mean to say that whether architecture is or isn't a form of fine art is irrelevent to the discussion of what good architecture is. architecture should be classified as what it is, architecture."

    I find this quote both confusing and revealing. On the one hand you classify architecture as simply architecture. In other words an unelucidated qualification. And yet,

    "then it can be valued as something beyond cultural (a cultural luxury), taking on its social value (mind you, i see it that a social responsibilty is to provide architecture with cultural value)."

    Exactly, I see architecture as nothing less than a social responsability to provide cultural value. I may have a rampaging degree even, of elitism about the

    "The mediocrity who are expert at everything and especially art because their conforming with a setback line," who "know they're going nowhere, with nothing to say and likely doing nothing especially artful with their lives but making sure they don't step out of line."

    I know that there is an art to not stepping out of line but those who choose to live that way have the courage of their convictions only in so far as they feel entitled to disparrage all art and all artists and especially architecture, presiceley because they see no cultural value in it.

    There is a notion in this country, and even in America there is a reluctance on the part of the general population to comment on art and architecture the way orstralians do, that the more mediocre your 'taste' the more qualified you are to dissparage all other 'taste'.
    My original basis for saying that is that in Australia there seems to be a reluctance on the part of architects to stand up to such fascistic cultural homogenisation and so more easily be in a public position to ask for proper remuneration for the skill and effort involved in applying ones 'art' to the art of architecture.

    Your own admission, Andrew, that "(mind you, i see it that a social responsibilty is to provide architecture with cultural value)." which you have meekly bracketed away for your grammatically connected sentiment that architecture is somehow a cultural luxury that is beyond presumably simple demands of the profession, reveals the same equivication surrounding ones own artistic merit, that I argue is a feature of Australian 'cultural' life. You even used the word 'cringe' in your answer because that word is intimately connected to the concept of 'art' in this country.

    This ethos is one I refute by architects because it is the act of making what were previously considered to be cultural luxuries, into what should be considered as cultural norms, that architecture should be doing.
    The act of creating an impetous to cultural improvement is what makes architecture the highest form of art. It not only creates walls on which and in which all other art is performed including the art of living with others, it is itself an art form.

    However, that act of accomodating the broadest spectrum of mediocre opinion is what keeps it almost the lowest form of art in this country, where architects struggle to receive due recognition of their skills and in turn due remuneration.

    "a 'successful art piece' can intentionally dismiss the constraints whilst containing high cultural value as an idea. 'successful architecture' cannot."

    I disagree completely. I would call Bill Hensons recent particular photograph, which explicitly dismissed the constraints of underage 'consent' to be photographed, an unsuccessful piece of art precisly because its swarming ambiguity has completely swamped its 'raison d'art'.
    It no longer can be defended as art because he stuffed up and crossed a generally accepted 'constraint'. to the mediocre, it no longer contains an artistic or cultural value above pornography. It did when it was hanging in Hensons studio but as soon as he put it in the public arena, his wings turned into wax and he fell from the heavens. He is a damn fine artist, but now he is also a pornographer.
    All art including architecture, cannot dismmiss constraints and remain successfull. It can exist and someone created it, but it will not stand the test of time or public ridicule.

    My effort is directed towards reducing the power that unqualified people have in this country to pass comment about architecture. The degree of self censorship that ensues is one that Robert Hughes has refered to and that 'cultural cringe' directly affects the amount that architects ask for thier services. There are a lot of people who do value an architects advise but there is an overwhealming number who believe architecture is of little cultural value in the same way they believe that being a 'tradesman' is far more laudable than being an 'artist'.

    I am going to campaign on making a point to the public at large that architecture is indeed a very high art form and one in which the direction of society as a whole is more effectively governed that pictures and photographs, and so find voice for expunging the cultural cringe and replacing it with cultural validity. I want to do this by reminding everyone where possible, that architects do indeed possess a social responsibility that it seems in this country at least, that clients and not just a few architects, need constant reminding of.

    I'd be interested Andrew, to read more of what you refer to as "architectural exploration" which you say can be augmented by wandering the streets surrounded by even unarchitectural forms. And that even artless professions can be helped by architects.
    Absolutely. I agree. I may have justly been misunderstood in saying 'artless' and I could have been clearer in saying that artfullness is something that is relative and not something that anyone can be disposessed of. The level at which someone understands its worth in thier own life is their level of artlessness. The level at which some see the possibilities of artistic expression in everyday life is their level of artfullness

    My arguement is that architects per see in this country are labouring under a general public delusion that they do not practice an art form and should therefore not be rewarded for artfull solutions. The proof is in the fact that many people would go straight to a builder instead of engaging an architect if they could and when they can they do. The proof is further applied in the level of derision handed out to any designer of structures who does profess to be "an architect". It's almost as if you can hear the whoops and catcalls of "f'ing black skivvied poofter" going through the minds of a lot of builders that I have encountered. Being an artist myself I have always had an empathetic affinity for those so abused by 'you beaut genuine aussies'

    I believe this is because they simply don't understand the skill level inherent to the job and which is largely encumbant on an 'artistic sensibility' to all the various factors involved in designing a building. To the general public, there is no mystery surrounding a structure, architecture is just architecture as you put it.

    Because the general public is insensitive to the benefits of art in general, it suit them to dismiss its value in the design of buildings and it therefore suits some architects to dimimish its value in thier own work because that is the market pressure. It may be a chicken and egg arguement, but I believe that the higher regard for art in any society then the higher the quality of architecture. One could go to even the poorest nation on Earth and find that this holds true. Witness the Bangladesh parliment buildings by Louis Kahn and the thousands of dirt poor labourers who made the whole thing by hand. It is not a matter of architectural capability but a matter of a society respecting and paying for architectural capability, on the basis that they respect the art of that profession and accept its benefits into thier lives.
    To claim some mediocritous dignity from the flippant dismissal of the art of architecture, as Australian society generally does, is not in my opinion deserving of my respect because such 'clients' are in my opinion, lacking the nessecary respect for me and my ideas before they've even walked in the door. I, on the other hand, would not say they are completely without art until they open thier mouths and proove it themselves. You may think andrew that I am showing the general public disrespect, but from my view it they who are disrespecting me.
  • edited June 2008
    Mark Melb.
    Firstly, In Aboriginal culture it is generally anathema to involve oneself in the representions of someone else. You just don't speak on behalf of others and especially in thier presence. If Murcutt's clients sat in the background nodding agreement, its probably as close to the camera as they could be persuaded to come since the film maker was concentrating on Murcutt and his house design and they would therefore be feeling very embaressed at having any attention paid to them at all.

    Secondly, if they were nodding agreeance it's probably because they did agree, since it is not a habit of first peoples the world over to do otherwise.

    Thirdly, that house design has since been taken up as a template for a lot of top end Aboriginal housing projects on which a new generation of Aboriginal tradesmen are being trained, precisely because it answers the needs and desires of Aboriginal people in the way that they want to live.
  • edited June 2008
    ............remember, it's not that important. When I sit at dinner parties (is there such a thing these days?!) I ensure that I don't 'let on' or remind people that I am 'in the business'. Much more fun listening to peoples 'expert' ideas they have ripped from mags, T.V. shows and exhibitions and the like.

    Remember, everyone is an expert these days. The very presence of shows like 'Grand Designs' has cheapened our industry by mixing the good (artfull)with the awfull.

    Get over it, all professions suffer from this. There is not a day that goes by that someone expounds the virtues of an Apple over a PC, an iPod over a Creative Zen, one brand of mobile phone over another (do I really need a phone/camera/mp3 player.............)and a bricklayer gives investment advice.

    You speak of an architects struggle for recognition. It helps to be born on the 'right' side of the street, 'correct' religion etc. How about treating it as a business first, make money and then invest in self promotion?

    I know of one firm in Melbourne that appeared from nowhere, because 'daddy' had the right contacts. They had never built anything and suddenly they were the 'next big thing', made money from some good commissions, could afford to employ experienced staff and 'real' designers, now they are a respected firm. It all started as a 'fraud'.

    The fact that the 'schools' and the governing body is just about giving away registrations does not help. There are many registered Architects out there that could not design a carport let alone draw without the aid of a computer.

    And you complain that people go straight to a builder. Can you blame them?!

    Would you self diagnose and go straight to a surgeon?
  • edited June 2008
    I think Mark that I am not complaining on my own behalf so much as i am complaining on behalf of the entire profession. I understand that dilution of purpose occurs on many levels in many professions, which is the main reason that the BCA and Standards Australia exist.
    What I hope to impart is a sense of rightousness on the part of architects and designers who may chose to imbue thier work and lives with more 'art', so that they might defend themselves more readily when that level of care and purpose is attacked by clients and other members of the public who don't have a clue of what they're talking about.
    I want to see 'art' taken seriously by architects because I believe its broadest ramification can be found in Andrews sentiment that "a large aspect of art (is) the appreciation of life." When art is seen in this sense, and not simply demarcated into the realm of pretty pictures and forms, and it is applied to the practice of architecture, then that is when truelly good architecture results. Not only that, but such 'goodness' in the architecture is visible and interpretable by a much wider group of people than simply the creator and the client.
    When the result is such that the largest number of people can appreciate it then that is when a larger number of people will also be prepared to pay for it. Mediocrity in that enviroment will tend to diminish and we will see less 'cheapening' of the profession. That is my hope and aim at least.

    Thank you for your concern, but it is no struggle at all to maintain my determination that is is important because otherwise I would have to think it unimportant if architecture just fell into a ruinous heap.
    My purpose is to improve cultural value both in my designs and my arguements. I can't therefore ignore the diminishment of cultural value by less educated fellow citizens particularly as I think my efforts are to everyones benefit.
  • edited June 2008
    Mr Mark Melb.
    I have to disagree with you about 'Grand Designs'. My arguement in this thread is that there is not enough appreciation on behalf of the general public, of both Art and Architecture and even less of the intrinsic conjoinedness of the two into the 'highest form of art' that architecture is or can be.
    Grand Designs, as populist and middle brow as it is, is by far one of the most innovative attempts to reach the general public and inculcate a sense of appreciation for the 'art of architecture', that has been on any popular form of media for years.
    One may scoff that it is cheapening the profession and I myself have laughed out loud at some of the attempts made by the participants to improve thier lives, but from the perspective of those participants and from the viewing public at large, it is often the first time that they may have undertaken the asthetic effort to think beyond the seemingly common sentiment that 'architecture' is no more than a illegitimate glorification of the job of building.
    From that perspective it is not a cheapening of the profession but quite the reverse.
    My arguement is certainly made easier by its existance and for that alone I appreciate it. The fact that it is running into new series' and seems to be increasingly popular and is even selling back copy dvd's, can only mean that employing an architect (as almost every one of the featured projects does do) is a concept that is reaching an increasingly appreciative audience.
    It may be in time that your future clients will be giving you a call because they were inspired to do so by "Grand Designs".
    Any form of positive publicity about architecture is good publicity.
    To quote you and the sentiment of your collegues above. "Get over it" You're not that special.
  • edited June 2008
    Simon, are you an only child? .............. as I said, I don't 'do' domestic. Plumbers and social workers 'do' domestic so much better than 'real' designers.

    BTW, In February we visited friends living on the Thames near to Southend and guess what was 'parked' out on the mud at low tide when we were there? It was a new arrival since our previous visit in May the year earlier. It was that bl..dy barge that Social Worker couple were turning into a house. It had been 'abandoned' just off the navigation chanel. Why don't Grand Designs show the real effect of not using a professional. Grand Designs simply encourages it.
  • edited June 2008
    Ha ha ha.
    A social worker couple in a barge! I'm sad to say I missed that one. I have heard social workers can barely tolerate their own company, let alone be married to one. They usually get married to their first case study. I bet the barge was abandoned along with the marriage after two months in confined proximity.

    But I have to correct your misconception about the use of professionals. Most of the Grand Design senarios DO use a professional. He or she is the unseen and generally unnamed architect refered to often during the intro's and frequently throughout the unfolding minor disasters. Presumably they prefer to remain anonymous after seeing the pre screen test reels, though I do recall one being identified with the building and subsequently delisting themselves when it was revealed they had used the entire breadth of an ancient chesnut tree as a datum point for a circular building into which the matching circular windows consequently would not fit.
    If you mean the practice of owner building as opposed to having "professional" supervision, then I think that is being mildly elitist as well as missing my point that architectural design integrity and the sticking to said integrity by the client and the builder, is the more important issue, though I can accept that in many cases the two situations are related. For reasons outlined above I think that has more to do with persistent and lingering disrespect for the art than the pressures of budget or any encouragement coming from architectural affecinados.

    Most housing stock in the world is built without the benefit of an architect at all and most of that down to the hoveliest hovel in a thousand shanty towns is built by the owner.
    There is nothing in Grand Designs that encourages not using a professional. In fact, Grand Designs constantly encourages the use of professionals, by the host often lamenting the fact that some of the owner builders prefer to do their own site supervision against his advise and obvious scorn, and often on the grounds that they have employed an architect for the initial design in the first place, and that professional supervision is most often a future cost effective solution.

    Unfortunately for some of them, their budgets don't run that far into the future. That is not from any of Grand Designs encouragements. It is a fact of life for millions of hopeful homeowners and as such it is as unfair an accusation as to suggest that soup kitchens and charity shops encourage poverty

    Good Design and why it is worth doing and why it is worth getting an architect to do it, is the theme of this thread and I believe it is the thrust of Grand Designs as well.
    Back to the thread, a good design is one in which all factors including future running costs are taken into account. My particular bent is domestic architecture and sustainably designed domestic architecture that is as cheap to build as it is cheap to live in. I intend to set up a business that revolves around Enviromentally Sustainable Design. As a side interest I am currently studying co-operative legal structures with the future intent to set up building co-ops in which the owners or tenents of the architecturaly designed buildings or building refits can do a lot of the work themselves. Why design one good building when I could, with the right legal structure, house ten people, or a hundred.
    What I think Grand Designs does encourage is the concept of owner building (as well as using a design professional, even if some of the more obvious idiots prefer to ignore good advice, which Grand Designs, I assure you, does not encourage).
    Owner building is to my mind an ancient practise far older than the profession of architecture and which can not therefore be ignored because it also happens to be the method by which most of the worlds population still houses itself.
    Architectural focus on domestic dwellings and in particular the enviromental benefits to be gained for the whole world in using architectural knowlege to house people without compromising the enviroment, is an historically recent phenomenon but in future it will do far more for the enviroment in the long term than riding bicycles can do in the short term.
    Architects are in a unique position to exercise and encourage through their designs a huge world wide change in the way people currently use and missuse resources. That too is an historically recent phenomenon and one which can only benefit from the publicity generated by popular architecture shows.
    I am sorry Mark but I can't understand your attitude on the one hand, that your dinner party collegues are not enviromentally kosher enough because they still drive cars, and on the other hand you disparrage a show that from its inception has encouraged enviromentally sustainable design, technology, materials and building methods.
    For me and my future business and my aspirations to contribute to solving the enviromental catastrophe that is upon us, owner building coupled with ESDesign by a passionate and highly skilled design professional (me in my case) is a particularly potent method of propagating and formenting cultural value via architecture. I believe Grand Designs quite often refers to the green credentials he looks for in the featured projects and often points out when they lack such credentials.
    For me, I want to encourage ESDesign as much as I can and harnessing the passion of an owner builder is one sure way of spreading the word. That's why I won't mind owner builders being a big aspect of my future work as a professsional architect.

    Good cheers to the Grand Designs host for doing his bit, and he's been on his philisophical bicycle for about ten years now I think, which is pretty good I reckon. Have you checked out the RIBA website recently and seen some of the links to small architects. Quite 'popular' I would call some of the work when you're not calling it modern or post modern or whatever. I can't remember the hosts name, but I bet he'll get a gong before his times up for consistently promoting sustainable housing. You might get a gong for consistently using a bicycle if you go to China and become famous for encouraging them to keep using bicycles. God knows with their rising passion for cars, they could certainly do with your passion for bicycles.
    My prefered method of contributing to enviromental sustainability will be in architecture as I am sure your maligned dinner party friends were doing.
  • edited June 2008
    I think we should agree to dissagree. My dinner party friends would not know good design let alone good taste if it bit them in the arse. That is not their function in life and have not been told that it should be left to those better trained. Populist TV shows don't help.

    It took me 2 years to convince my RAIA Award winning Architect a simple leak was coming from a piece of unconvincing design. See the problem?!
  • edited 3:21AM
    Well...
    It is always difficult to talk to a brick wall and so move past the problem. Better just to walk around the wall and move on. Yes lets agree to disagree. I don't mind, but can I ask you why you would have dinner party friends whose company seems to be barely tolerable?
    Surely if they're so contemptable then they are also holding you up in which ever direction you wish to go in?
  • edited 3:21AM
    ............ you are an only child?
  • edited 3:21AM
    Why an only child?
  • edited 3:21AM
    Not necssarily an only child...
    Just someone with a lot of time to think and write
    Maybe sitting on island somewhere?
  • edited June 2008
    Well I think and write a lot, generally about things I believe to be more important in the wider scheme of things, that is, not just important to me. I can also type a bit fast and I make time between a lot of other things like raising kids, studying, helping run a home. I don't watch any more than about an hour of TV a week and I glance at the occaisional newspaper.
    Otherwise I think about how improvements can be initiated in society at large. I believe architecture has a seriously underestimated role in that improvement and particularly in the application of enviromentally sustainable design into common housing stock. Therefore I think about and discuss and write here and in other places about ways in which the ART of architecture can be enhanced to achieve the outcomes I would like to see. I have burdened myself with studying the legal ramifications of housing co-ops, I have lathered my brain with studying late at night after the assignments are done, things like micro ecology as it pertains to design and planning, I have relaxed with reading the thoughts of great architects whose work I can admire as it relates to what I myself want to do.
    I see initiating discussion of architecture and the ART of it and any other relevant angle of the profession as worth doing because I see my ideas and concerns can go beyond my petty existance and hopefully in so doing I can reach into the hearts of many more people than the naysayers and ridiculers of this world who are quite often as egotistical as i am, but instead waste their time at the keyboard pointing out how clever they are to have come up with a reason for resisting change in either thier opinions or methods or inspirations.
    I am acting out of love for my fellow man and woman, who must live and work in structures I believe could do with a great deal of improvement. I believe a great deal of improvement would come about if a bit more of the ART of creating sympathetically to peoples lives and the life of the planet was applied to the ART of architecture . Does it matter if I am an only child, I am not, or live on an island, I don't, or that you don't agree with me.
    I don't care if you have no valid point on which to disagree with me beyond my sibling status or whether or not I am standing or sitting on an island.
    My question is rhetorical, my answer is emphatic, my passion and my time is mine and I belong to my passion and my time.
    I dont hate you, I don't know you, but you cannot say, from what I have written here that I do not care about you.
    I would rather a contructive discourse on the merits of architectural application to the life of this country and I have said my bit and I have more to say. Is that an issue for you and if so perhaps you should look at your own reactions with a keen eye as to why your hate and loathing is kindled enough to softly ridicule what you may not understand or why you do not like what I have to say.
    It is not my fault that you have hate in your heart. It may not be your fault either but it is entirely your fault if you do nothing about it but try and hand it around.
    It doesn't bother me or upset me if that's what you're trying to achieve by saying such things, because it has no bearing on my life that you have these feelings. It is like anonymous road rage. I care, but i can't help you. I hope you sort them out for the sake of your friends and your families and ultimately yourself and the craft you might henceforward bring to your profession with a newly cleared head. Good luck and I look forward to your constructive replies.
  • edited June 2008
    I'm just reading Robin Boyd's 'Australia's home' from 1951 (which has some great quips and mental images worth reviving) and came across this observation which I think to a very large degree has held true even to this day.
    (p107 1968 edition)

    "Modern architecture was inevitably linked with modern art in the public mind. The 1920's Jazz Style zig-zag and scyscraper (silouette) patterns were ascotiated with architecture, but in fact they seldom appeared on a building. They merely dressed the accessories. They had been taken from some contemporary painters by the furniture manufacturer, the wall-paper printer and the shop-window decorator. Later the 'free' shapes of the abstract painter were similarly embodied in decorative aides to the main building drama.
    Even at the start of the century, modern architecture could find common ground with painting only in the floating planes and solid geometry of Cubism. The wilder movements of Abstraction, Dadaism, Surrealism and so on, could hardly have been more remote from the principles of Functionalism. Architecture had sown its wild oats in the exstravagant late Victorian days, when painting was chained to Realism. Building was driving back to rational forms, to nature, to respect for the human frame, just when painters and sculptors were fighting free from such restrictions.
    Conservative artists and the general public nevertheless bracketed the plain building with the abstract painting. Thus they tended to ascribe to the modern architect the loose morals, irresponsability and degeneracy which they habitually associated with unconventional art, while all the time the modern building was developing into an embodiment of cleanliness and social grace. It should have been quite impossible to picture even mild debauchery in a brilliant interior behind a sliding glass wall."

    This is what we are still fifty years later, up against. The mediocre who assume to know your motives and even despite all evidence to the contrary they think the worst of that suspicious creature the architect. Why?, because we are artists first and foremost whether you like it or not, in the eye of the public.
    If we can turn around that notion by accepting that we are amongst the finest practioners of art, thankyou very much, then perhaps we'd feel better about charging more and be more resistant to client driven perversions of purpose.
  • edited 3:21AM
    Good design in architecture assumes an intimite understanding of enviroment. I am guessing that Murcutt refuses to work outside Australia because he believes that he could not do justice to good design anywhere else other than where he has an intimite understanding of the land.
    That should not stop anyone else from approaching the problem of design in the same manner anywhere on the planet, only that they who do so, should not expect to come up with anything that looks like a Murcutt, but should in fact come up with something that arrose from the land in which they work and live. they should come up with solutions to the problems that thier site presents and not merely copy in the mistaken belief that design is something that can be removed from its context, when design is actually a result of its context.
    In this sense, context is not a merely a voluntary consideration when it comes to designing. This is the crux of the problem for any designer who approaches the problem by using thier own egotistical opinions of style or form as a first referance point. Which in turn is why an appreciation of ART is a more important begining than a personal expression of art. The differance is in the direction at which you come at a problem and from which you arrive at a solution.
    It fails if you referance yourself because you are in affect making your own ego the problem to be solved, when it is the site and the client that should be the first consideration.
  • edited 3:21AM
    Do I make myself clear?
    I am thinking about a certain scribe who continues in his own mind no doubt, to berate me for calling architecture an ART.
    Gasp! Of course architecture is a bloody art and has been for at least since the time of Sophacles. What our Miles has assumed is that 'post' modern or what ever you will, can be taken literaly. That is, 'post' is as real a demarkation of style and artistic impetus as the birth of christ is to politics.
    Well 'oils aint oils' is all I have to say and the stubborn refusal to recognise the level of 'artistic' input into a design, beyond fashionability I add (which is as often as far from art as kitch is), is merely a measure of how little artistic imput the critic is prepared to offer.
    If you haven't got it, at least be humble enough to not go around pretending it doesn't exist.
  • edited August 2008
    Simon, you like to talk don't you!  Please post some examples of your "architecture", I for one would like to see it!
  • edited 3:21AM
    no architecture just sheep! as the housemartins, a fantastic band from hull in the 90's' sang ' its sheep were up against.....'

    anyway it seems kevin and his grand designs are now on abc1 for all of us to enjoy.

    in the uk they have grand designs trade secrets where kevin and architect deborah saunt from dsdha bitch about the show they just aired.... our deb gets stuck into kev for saying stuff like 'post-modern' without justification and then bitches about the wallpaper the client has chosen....magic.

    (apparently this is on lifestyle already)
  • edited December 2008
    Passive solar design
    This dog kennel is completely made of recycled materials. Every screw and nail was reused from denailing other timbers and all of it was sourced from demolision materials destined for the tip. The treated pine footings and bottom frame came from vineyard post off cuts and demolished garden steps with a cement sheet platform all cut from waste. The sheet iron was reused corrugated sheet and ridge capping flattened for internal wall cladding and floor and ceiling. The timber frame is recycled pine stud timbers. All glass fibre insulation was also reused from demolision waste.  The triple skinned internal floor is made of 50mm of hollow core plastic from recycled realestate signs on the cement sheet platform with flattenned corrugated iron and then foam underlay and carpet. The door is a double layer of  flaps cut from waste truck tarpurlin. Its door sill is a recycled window sill  A small fixed double glazed window in the east wall (not visible) I made for hygiene purposes from glass cut from demolished windows with a protective grill I built into the frame from old sheep mesh fencing. It has provision for the future installation of hydronic heating connected to the house system.
    The kennel is insulated in all walls and floors and double insulated in the roof space so that the below zero temperatures are countered, but I have included a tiny section of internal bronze mesh ventilation to keep the roof space dry. It is north facing with correct eaves so that old Dog can enjoy the winter sun and summer shade. Under the verandah deck is 100mm of tightly packed cement sheet for thermal mass winter heating and summer cooling for perfect dog bludging comfort, as you can see. All skirting boards, cornices and architraves are recycled from the demolished window architraves. The light coloured stone paving keeps the kennel relatively clean and stabalises the temperature shifts in front of the kennel and plantings of rosemary, lavender, pinnapple sage and aloe vera (under the eave for frost protection in the recycled tyre and wheel planter) keeps all insect pests at bay.
    The beginning of this post talked about good architecture. By good I mean sustainable design or as close to it as possible. It does not matter if you like it or not that I have a lot to say or think I am unqualified (I am currently studying to be) or what ever. The point is, do you care enough to think that good design should not only include a roof that doesn't leak and a footing that doesn't fail, but also a building that operates well in it's enviroment, that is both fit for purpose and of minimal impact on the possibility of other people enjoying a similar level of comfort into the future.
    If I have a lot to say Kashmir and that perhaps annoys you, don't ask me to show my credentials before I am alllowed to say anything further. Ask yourself why you are annoyed and why you are not otherwise contributing to the debate. Now you have seen what I have designed and built, can you show me what you have designed and built? But before you do so, ask yourself if you are doing it to justify your existance or just because you exist, and whether or not the building is important enough to deserve the application of ESDesign, if you have applied it at all.
  • edited 3:21AM
    dont encourage mr seasons kashmir, he just sees it as a challenge
    the dog looks happy with your work anyway. post occupancy evaluation anyone?
    peter surely this deserves a new forum discussion 'architects and their dogs'?
    didnt corbu get his dead dogs skin to cover some of his favourite books?
     
  • edited 3:21AM
    what about good architecture for animals....
  • edited 3:21AM
    Hahaha, I had to laugh, the dog must have been your perfect client, it didn’t express one single opinion during the design and build.  The funny thing is the dog would have been happy with a longitudinally sliced 44 gallon drum, the same way an uneducated yobbo is happy with a non architect designed house.

    All I can suggest to Simon is maybe build up your folio of habitable human dwellings and satisfied clients before you get on your soapbox because, yes, if all you have built is a doghouse out of scraps. I personally deem you as unqualified to comment, then again I’m not an architect so what would I know, right?


    Re the “art and educated opinion” argument, Simon, do you like to listen to music?  What’s your favourite band and inversely what’s your most disliked band?  On what grounds do you base your opinion? Are you a virtuoso or an award winning songwriter or producer?  Then what right do you have to pass judgment on someones music?
    The hoi polloi has been using buildings since the day they were born, just because they have not studied them in depth does not mean they have not developed personal opinion on what they want or like nor does it mean they lack an innate feel for what is right and what is wrong.  The art in architecture is COMPLETLY arbitrary, even architects can’t unify on what “good” means.  And as mentioned earlier, some of the SHIT certain “fully qualified architects”  design (and blow the budget and schedule on) is more than enough to send potential clients SPRINTING to a design/build mob with a track record of delivering on time and on budget, two thing architects are not famous for.
    Imagine a population that was partially “educated” in architecture, enough so they can begin to appreciate architecture on a level architects can, imagine the HELL ON EARTH that would be, with them second guessing every move and decision with (oh my god) architecturally valid arguments!!!  Would you like that?  Would that help the architects’ plight?
    Re. Murcutt, It's such a lazy stance to take, to dismiss someone’s viewpoint as uneducated rather than discussing it with them in an attempt to educate them or see it as a conversation in which you might learn something.  Everyone sees the world in a slightly different way.  It's comment's like his that only serve to reinforce the "elitist, poofter in a skivvy" image, don’t you see that?
    This is another important lesson they don’t teach in school:  Architecture is a SERVICE INDUSTRY, the sooner you can accept this, the sooner you will have a positive impact on your (human) clients, the build environment AND its inhabitants.
    This is all just my uneducated opinion, and perhaps you have nothing to learn from me and don’t forget, opinions are like ar$eholes, everybody has one.  Enjoy!
  • edited August 2008
    You say that a dog would be happy to broil in summer and freeze in winter in half a 44 gallon drum, just as an "uneducated yobbo" wouldn't know the differance? 
    If you don't think even a dog has the wit to know when lying in the shade is preferable to lying in the sun then you're in the wrong job Kashmir, and you haven't a clue of what you're talking about. 
    Yes my opinion is mine but at no stage did I demand that you accept it. I don't see why you think I should accept your opinion as, just like your arseholes, you can keep them.
    I don't see a reasoned response to the proposals and opinions put by me or anyone else. I see uneducated and untrained conjecture salted with abuse for the sake of it, which adds up to arrogance and an insufferable boorishness that does not need the dignity of any further response.
     
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