Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Aesthetics vs Comfort



Germaine Greer as architecture critic. Surprisingly, despite a hint of the old those-proles-know-nothing-of-beauty chestnut, this is not half bad - encompassing a defence of truth to materials, a reference to doomed spec Modernist development Frinton Park...better than Hugh Pearman or Tom Dyckhoff, anyway.

12 Comments:

Blogger Charles Holland said...

Yeah, not bad. Bit ill informed though. One doesn't have to look very far to find contemporary housing that doesn't look like her description, not least our (FAT's) own houses in Manchester's New Islington (and don't start on me...!) and DMKF's too come to that, the Stirling prize shortlisted scheme by Feilden Clegg Bradley, plus numerous others blah blah blah. I like the idea that windows get bigger due to the ratio of aesthetic enjoyment but economic removal from the land though. Think of all those houses in the fens built in the last few years with massive picture windows....

12:50 pm  
Blogger owen hatherley said...

As it happens, I think being ill-informed helps here, because the stuff you mention is a tiny proportion of what gets built - no more typical of the 2000s than Connell Ward and Lucas were typical of the 1930s. It's fairly indisputable that an overwhelming majority of building is identikit spec guff: the exceptions are interesting, but it shouldn't be forgotten that they are exceptions.

1:45 pm  
Blogger Charles Holland said...

Of course. But I was more reacting to her specific claim:

"..no one has dared design detached dwellings with flat roofs since the failure of the Frinton Park project".

That's just wrong. although, we all know what she means I suppose.

11:32 am  
Blogger Matthew said...

Owen, I think you're being extraordinarily kind here. I've no real idea of what she's trying to say. Is it that new houses are ugly because they have large windows? (wrong: ubiquitous neo-Victorian guff from the mid-90s onwards has delighted in too-small windows)or that what we need is modernist designs with, um, large windows?

Ok, ok. So new houses are bad. We need more intelligent design. She's saying that, I guess. Good enough. But not good. What have you got against the lovely My Dyckhoff?

12:30 pm  
Blogger owen hatherley said...

The 'let's move to' section in the Guardian, that's what.

You're right of course, it is full of nonsense, but I just rather liked the stuff on eco-homes and the pretty houses that are actually horrible if you're poor argument...

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