viernes, 31 de diciembre de 2010

Estilo (IV) / Style (IV) (J. Mordaunt Crook)

"Architecture is two things: it is service and it is art. It has to work and it has to be seen to work. It is building and an image of building; structure and an image of structure. An architect is thus both a builder and an image-maker, and styles in architecture is just a way of building codified in imagistic form. In simply organised societies - communities with unitary cultures - there is no radical choice of image. Style is still a vernacular medium, not a product of aesthetic preference. But between the disintegration of the classical tradition in the second half of the eighteenth century, and the rise of the Modern Movement  in the first half of the twentieth century, architects were faced with a choice - in many cases a multiple choice - between alternative images, alternative codes, alternative systems of design, alternative styles. That choice I have called The Dilemma of Style. [...]

In brief the stylistic dilemma was a product first of the Renaissance (which gave us the idea of individual style), and then of Romanticism (which gave us the idea of a multiplicity of styles). [...]

It was in the area of romantic landscape that the idea of appropriate form, that is a style appropriate to a particular context, first came to fruition. Of course the idea had a long history. Vitruvius endowed the different classical orders with distinct characters - masculine Doric, matronly Ionic, and so on - establishing a classical tradition of decorum, or manner, and this variation and stylistic differentiation; ideas which in turn were developed in eighteenth-century France. J.-F. Blondel explained the appropriate use of style as a kind of 'colouration', 'the poetry of architecture'. 'In a word', he suggests, 'style... enables the architec to create a sacred genre, a heroic one, a pastoral one'. Ledoux took such ideas of stylistic expression a good deal further, designing buildings such as his notorious phallic-shaped brothel, or his barrel-shaped house for a cooper or barrel-maker, which are themselves three-dimensional metaphors. Architecture thus becomes a symbolic language.


In the early eighteen century - the cultural watershed when nature replaced religion as the motive force for creative artists - the cult of styles had become rooted in the soil of the Romantic landscape. But it was not until the early nineteenth century that choice developed into conflict. [...] Buildings were now pictorially conceived as memories in three dimensions [...].

The habit of regarding buildings as scenery - as aggregates of separate visual units - encouraged not only irregular skylines and asymmetrical plans, but triangular, hexagonal, and octagonal features, eyecarcher and all manner of follies [...]. Picturesque thinking was certainly an encouragement to drawing-board architecture: designing a house from the outside inwards, rather than from the outside outwards - a process of design ideal for landscape features. Carter's triangular fort is reciprocally picturesque: a building designed to be looked at as well as looked from; an example of scenographic design, based on the multiplications of points of vision."

Van Eck, Caroline; McAllister, James; Van de Vall, Renée (eds.) (1995) The question of style in philosophy and the arts. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

miércoles, 29 de diciembre de 2010

Words about Architecture (D. Scott Brown)

"Charles Seeger, philosopher of 'musics', believed that art, music and architecture cannot be explined in writing, baceuse words are linear and hide the essence of arts that are nonverbal and nonlinear. Stravinsky, too, when asked the meaning of a composition just played it again. But then what were Seeger and Stravinsky doing, and what am I doing writing words?

Bob [Robert Venturi] and I write mainly to clarify our ideas. As makers and doers, we have evolved a troika between looking/learning, writing/theorising and designing/building. We jump between these in no particular order and require al three to produce our work. We feel that new architecture needs words to help it along (the photo essay is our preferred method). And setting down an idea helps us to understand and use it, and eventually to go on to the next one. But architectural writing also serves to describe, direct and explain projects, to express criticism and conduct polemics.


How do you learn and teach architectural writing? I learned it in primary and secondary school, then on my own with help from friends like Charles Seeger; and, although I would not dare teach the personal and poetic, I am accustomed to helping interns learn to write everyday prose. A few arrive with this ability but most seem not to have learned it in either their liberal arts or professional education. I gather that some professional schools (engineering, for example) run in-house courses in expository writing, having discovered that the last place they will find this teaching is in university English departments. I tell young architects that building an argument is like building a building. You cannot just throw thoughts at a subject; there must be a logic and pattern to the development of ideas. This then gets translated into structures and substructures, with the alteration of none part requiring the restabilisation of the whole. Student architects are sometimes told, if you can write, you can draw. I reverse the argument: if you can draw, you can write (not poetry, but good working prose).


Then forget words. Creative cycles call for reading, thinking, impassioning, then sleeping and opening a new book. There need be no preconceptions. The world can start again on a white page. As Lou Kahn said, the process passes from the unmeasurable, through the measurable, to the unmeasurable again. On the way there is room for scientific rigour and for penetration, consciously and unconsciously, of all we have ever seen or read. As the design evolves, the words return in altered form."

Scott Brown, Denise (2009) Having Words. Architectural Association, London.
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