I don't want to be interesting, I want to be good
-Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
Good work + good promotion = fame in architecture
Good: That is the common denominator in the two quotes above, and that is what I would like to zero in on in this note; specifically the former part of the equation "good work" which I have so endearingly engrained in the consciousness of all my long time readers.
I had a teacher in college that once told me that to be a good architect you have got to innovate; push the envelope and do something interesting or you have to go the way of Mies and raise the level of precision and craftsmanship to a level of high quality. I have always respected Mies but I also felt he was too extreme in his insistence on quality to the point that it was quite often boring for me, so I tended towards architecture that was attempting to do something interesting. My preference for interesting works however did not mean that I did not appreciate quality in craftsmanship and detail. To the contrary, for me good architecture means a combination of both.
Time and the effects of its aging was not considered here. I was disappointed but not deflated. Surely this was a fluke, BIG and JDS are arguably among the world’s most celebrated and exciting architects today.
The next stop was the VM apartments also done under PLOT. The buildings are located in a new suburban development just outside of Copenhagen called Ørestad. You can read more about it here. While on the monorail that takes you out there I saw quite a few interesting apartment buildings that caught my eyes. The area seemed recently developed and quite a lot of the buildings out there were attempting to do something interesting in some way or form. Though I did not know who the architects were, they were attention worthy and I wanted to at least go over and take a closer look. However, my time was limited and I was here to see the VM Apartments and the Mountain dwellings that I had read so much about.
Little or no thought given to how the building or its materials ages and transforms as it weathers over time. The wood as you can see is already water-rotted and beginning to lose its integrity over just a few winter cycles. This demonstrates a gross lack of understanding of the properties of wood and its behavior in winter climates or capitulation to economic pressures to cut costs by using inappropriate wood sans proper finishing and correct detailing.
|Facade elements already beginning to fall apart|
Long institutional corridor with poor day lighting and fluorescent light strips glaring directly into your eyes.
I have never relay met Julian but I have met Bjarke and to be honest, he seems like a genuinely nice fellow. His personality, enthusiasm and mere force of character spits in the face of the notion that you have to be a conceited archi-speaking dick-head in order to be a successful starchitect. That's one of the major reasons I root for him and that is why I want to see him succeed.
However to continue to heap praises and accolades on these projects of his without pointing out their obvious deficiencies is to really do a disservice to architecture. It sends a message to the younger architects who take inspiration from it that this is acceptable, that this is something to strive for, not something to surpass.
After seeing these works from up close, the best conclusion I can come to is that the level of quality and craftsmanship was disappointingly shitty while the marketing and presentation of ideas was absolute genius. I am hereby disputing (or modifying) the maxim that I often touted on this blog
Now I will have to say something like this:
Good (and /or interesting) work + Good Promotion = Fame in Architecture
The one thing I now know with all certainty is that the only thing that is invariably consistent with famous architecture is just good marketing and publicity.
Liberating Minds Since August 2007