Friday, April 1, 2011

Part One: Instead of Architecture

 From some distance of time one can look back at twentieth century architecture and with somewhat rough division separate two major trends. Both were bringing innovation but their styles were as antithetic as if occupying opposite corners of what is possible within three dimensions.
Modern formal austerity proposed buildings inspired by simple geometry and had its origin in Bauhaus designs. What they accomplished was bringing gulag closer to the European industrial workers by building dwellings stripped of any softening, warm or natural elements.
Look at the hopelessness staring from the rows of these penitentiary windows behind bars: they were copied and copied again all across the world!
 Their immense success was not with workers, which did not want to live there but with other architects who developed the Bauhaus style into International style .Perhaps the essence of it is best encapsulated by the famous motto of Mies van der Rohe “less is more”. And so, it was less, much less.
This is Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s  practical design of place of mass execution by firing squad that can also serve temporarily as storage for inflatable people.

Less is more! The wisdom of this saying is as good as “less truth is more truth” or “less freedom is more freedom”. However  transparent is idiocy of this maxim it  was not obvious to people with great deal of money and the world got those oversized refrigerators masquerading as architecture.

In all fairness I should add that Germans were not the sole perpetrators of those architectural crimes.Take a look at the achievements of the venerated Le Corbusier:
How nice it must be to wake up in this tackle box and feel like a disposable cipher.
And another of his gifts to humanity:

An architect in the reverent comment under this picture called it “elegant”. Indeed, indeed.
Notice the outer shell made of massive ferro-concrete protecting against atomic attack from the local villagers.
There is no need to add any more examples of Modern Movement. We live surrounded by them. Even that they look so obtuse, they speak. Their message is loud, impersonal jeer emanating from the corporate maw.
In the Second Part I will look at another trend in XX century architecture and it will be far less depressing.