Seems we’re not the only ones thinking this way. WM Briggs buys in by quoting from the same authors I did:
We see, for example, that contemporary prize-winning architects slavishly copy the same industrial aesthetic originally approved by the Bauhaus, whose members were working for the German industry to sell the industrial products of that time: steel, plate glass, and concrete.
Those buildings perform terribly in all climates and are dysfunctional for most human activities inside and in their immediate external vicinity, yet so-called “starchitects” continue to emulate the rules embodied in those failed examples.
But a modernist reader, replete with his leftist ad hominem, came in:
What crackludditepottery. The modernist movement in architecture born out of the technical breakthroughs of the industrial revolution, which made the previous “complex forms” unjustifiable (other than pleasing some luddite’s passion for the past). Archictecture that was unable to “modernize” soon became kitch.
The author completely dismisses the creative crisis that was falling over the styles of the eighteenth to the nineteenth century, and the technical revolutions that exposed neoclassical and neogothic designs as fake kitch. The author utterly ignores the variety of the modernist movement that includes the art nouveau, the organic movements, and a whole swath of different ideas of the future.
Ah – so it comes down, as all things seem to, to Left-Right again, does it? The Bauhaus was very much to develop and sell the new products of the time and as Ivan said, the progress in building materials makes everything much cheaper and easier but then he adds, Ivan – without any reduction in the aesthetic.
I’m caught halfway – certainly, in Saudi, the new residents were not going to fall into a first world argument about classic architecture or not, when they had roofs over their heads but my argument is why that has to be done without regard for aesthetics?
Ivan would argue it didn’t.
It’s like the cheap end of the car market – the hardriding little buzzboxes – why do they have to look like that? Why can’t they look like a small BMW? What I’m saying is – at the drawing board, why not make the lines pleasing instead of ugly? Even a foreshortened car can look OK. You might not like Smart cars but given that length, they’re as good, aesthetically, as you could probably get.
The designer, faced with his blank paper in front of him, could just as easily move the line up or down or more curved – the pressed panels have to be stamped the same for both and yet he doesn’t – he makes the thing ugly. Is it the dearth of good designers in mass-production companies? Is it the mindset in the process to ignore great cars of the past? Or is it a directive from above not to build too much quality in at the lower end, for fear of selling fewer flagship vehicles?
Thinking about Bauhaus and the unadorned, where does streamline moderne fall on this question? I love SLM in trains and any long buildings which do it justice. Not sure about the neo-SLM/late kitsch Van Alen building project at the top of the page, with flats at £500 000 apiece – SLM seems to require greater horizontal length but what about some of the other examples here?
Not sure the issue is the development of new materials or showcasing advances in design or even, in art, whether the modernist wishes to capture motion and uses photo techniques as a template – all that seems valid to me. The issue appears to be the brutish, dystopic minds behind the final products. Perhaps only such a mind could have forced railways through the American west, cigar firmly between lips and one wonders if someone referring to Chicago as the “hog capital of the world” should be given the task of urban planning for that city.