Friday, November 14, 2008

Talbert watched the intersections of the concrete walls and the curve of Dr Austin's breasts, a fusion of Kraft-Ebbing and Erno Goldfinger

Me complaining about the astounding drabness of recent roadside architecture (one of these days I'm going to write a column on something I actually like, I promise). I can also be found in the New Statesman Christmas books (Savage Messiah as a stocking filler). Wherein there is also a no doubt inadvertent channelling of the spirit of Ballard's Atrocity Exhibition from Stephen Bayley, who recommends a parallel perusal of coffee-table books about car parks and breasts.


Blogger Murphy said...

wot, you didn't plug 'militant modernism'? At least 'Cold World', then...

10:41 am  
Blogger Murphy said...

p.s. - I (almost) totally disagree regarding your carchitecture column. Architects are perfectly capable of achieving automobilic jouissance. There's a much more subtle link between the extraordinary vapidity of vehicle design and the more 'dynamic' fields of architecture, both in construction techniques and inspirations, design development strategies etc... than the one you outline there.

For example - look up Zaha's car. Go on.

10:49 am  
Blogger owen hatherley said...

I've seen it, at the Design Museum. It's dreadful.

(I was talking entirely about the British context, btw - obviously we have no BMW Welt)

1:51 pm  
Blogger Murphy said...

I suppose, but is better carchitecture something that you actually think is lacking, or is it just a Googie-consciousness raising exercise (which I have no problem with)?

Actually, after thinking (and reading) again, the only thing I really disagree with is this sentence: "Mass disenchantment with car culture has set in"... I mean, Top Gear doesn't represent mass disenchantment, does it? I'm fairly certain that car-lovers are still a great majority. That ape Clarkson is far more popular than, say, Monbiot...

sorry for the hyperbole.

2:44 pm  
Blogger Kosmograd said...

My limited knowledge of architects as car designers is Buckminster-Fuller's ill-fated Dymaxion (the prototype crashed, killing its driver and injuring its 2 passengers), and Renzo Piano, who created a prototype of the Fiat Tipo.

1:52 pm  
Blogger owen hatherley said...

Gropius designed a car, which is mocked as being technologically retardataire compared with Fuller's in Banham's First Machine Age. However, in proper Ballardian style, it did have seats that fell back to form a bed.

Top Gear doesn't represent mass disenchantment, does it? I'm fairly certain that car-lovers are still a great majority.

I suppose I meant disenchantment in the sense that things like Top Gear represent people trying to convince themselves that their cars are still sexily hurtling down an open road at 80mph, rather than crawling along at 4mph. I think it's an expression of frustration, not the sign of a culture in the ascendant. And I do wonder if there are more people who agree with Clarkson than Monbiot - although the former might well be louder.

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