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Architectural Theory: The Latest Architecture and News

The Boundless Banality of Beige: A Rant

This article was originally published on Common Edge

I am tired of design magazines and paint companies trying to sell me on dull “neutral” colors. They claim ”Beige Is Back,” that there is a historical elegance and calming effect to monochromatic off-whites. I don’t buy it. A minimalistic approach to color in modern buildings and interiors doesn’t relax me—it puts me to sleep. When I awake, I am angry. The historical notion that bleached Greco-Roman temples represent beauty is a myth. The ancients never rendered their structures, interiors, and ornament without color. Their architecture was vividly polychromatic.

The Nine-Step Architectural Beauty Detox Plan

This article was originally published on Common Edge.

In 1755, Francesco Algarotti, disgusted with what opera had become, wrote An Essay On The Opera in which he called for its simplification. For Algarotti, opera had degenerated into a vehicle for soloists to grandstand with endless improvisations overshadowing the music and ignoring the drama. Even the drama had lost the plot with mythological characters in extraordinary and complex situations. Algarotti saw drama as being the essence of opera and wanted the emphasis restored to it, with everything else secondary. Christoph Willibald Gluck and his librettist, Ranieri de’ Calzabigi, were the first to make it work with their 1762 opera Orfeo ed Euridice. It had characters and drama people could relate to, music that could be remembered and lyrics and a plot that could be understood. It’s regarded as the first truly modern opera.

"The Truth is in The Tension of Possibilities”: In conversation with Eric Owen Moss

Even though Eric Owen Moss’ buildings are easy to spot it is hard to categorize them. They constitute a clash of forms and surfaces that collide, break, contort, superimpose onto themselves, bend, split, melt, and explode seemingly out of control –all to avoid being subscribed to anything that may even remotely evoke a design methodology of any kind.

Beehive / Eric Owen Moss Architects. Image © EOMASamitaur Tower / Eric Owen Moss Architects. Image © EOMAUmbrella / Eric Owen Moss Architects. Image © EOMAWaffle / Eric Owen Moss Architects. Image © EOMA+ 27

Decoration Deserves to Be Celebrated for What It Is, Rather Than Dismissed for What It Isn’t

Beginning with the moral indignation expressed in Adolf Loos’s 1910 lecture “Ornament and Crime” and Le Corbusier’s 1925 The Decorative Art of Today, decoration has been attacked from every possible angle. Driven by the heroic male architect, Modernist dictates of good design—functionalism, truth to materials, purity of form—quickly took over and continue to be the dominant ideology today in the way architecture and interiors are taught and practiced. If Modern architecture was rational, masculine, and structural, then decoration was considered emotional, feminine, and shallow. Or, according to Loos, it was flat-out degenerate.

Modern Architects Stink at Lying. Luckily, That’s Fixable

This article was originally published on Common Edge.

Apart from dressing like an undertaker, wearing black-rimmed circular glasses, and driving Swedish cars, modern architects’ most conspicuous trait is their aesthetic honesty, which is dangerous. Sincerity leaves little room for imagination.

Call for Papers: Intentionen | Intentions (Design and Research in Architecture and Landscape)

Research-related design and design-related research in architecture, urban design and landscape architecture are generated, supported and structured by intentions as conscious purpose and position as well as intended content of perception, thought and action. The symposium will examine modes of action and meanings of intentions. How do they have an orienting, clarifying and dynamic effect within the processes of design and research, and how do they contribute to design and knowledge? What tensions arise between imprint, orientation and the projective, between research, imagination and realization, and how can these be evaluated, communicated and conveyed in a transferable way? To question

Collective Design: Alison & Peter Smithson

Between 1973 and 1975, Alison and Peter Smithson, published a series of seven articles in Architectural Design questioning the unity of the architectural form, as well as their commitment as architects. In recognition of the inevitable cultural fragmentation of society, they question the collective dimension of their work and their relationship with the community.

Texts: Peter & Alison Smithson | Commentary: Marc-Antoine Durand, Xavier Van Rooyen | Interviews: Dirk Van Den Heuvel, Peter Murray | Translations: Francis Guevremont, Ian Monk | Graphic design: Matthieu Becker

Français / English, 192 pages + 2 bookmarks

The Good Metropolis: From Urban Formlessness to Metropolitan Architecture

From the Publisher:
The book presents the first historical analysis of the productive tension between the city and the architectural form. It introduces 20th-century theories to construct a historical context from which a new architecture-city relationship emerged. The book provides a conceptual framework to understand this relationship and comes to the conclusion that urbanization may be filled with potential, i.e. be a Good Metropolis.

How Architectural Theory Distances People from Design

This article was originally published on Common Edge as "How Architectural 'Theory' Disconnects the Profession from the Public."

Whatever the form—personal, theoretical, scholarly—architects frequently veer into the philosophical terrain when defending otherwise subjective design decisions. Personally, this may be justifiable. But professionally, this reliance on quasi-philosophical spin is one of the fundamental ways architecture differs from other practical pillars of society, such as law, finance or medicine. Those disciplines are based on structures of knowledge (precedent or code, economics, and science, respectively) that mediate between professional decisions and subjective judgement.