Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Art and Architecture, Part 2

Expanding on an earlier post, architecture is about place, connections and meaning. It can evoke feelings and experiences with very simple structures and landscapes, and express a deep connection to a local environment. It can also intimidate and control people by overpowering their sense of scale or compressing their physical senses into confined spaces. Creating a sequence of messages to influence human activity also lies in the power of art and symbolism, which is effectively expressed by Richard Ross in his photographic documentation of "Architecture of Authority".

Creating spaces that influence human experience, and thus memory, has far more dimensions than some kind of formulaic approach to types of enclosure or orientation. The International School of architecture tried to establish a global language of space, codifying spatial progressions in a stripped-down classicism that resulted in the "white box" school of design that prevailed for decades. This experiment was probably necessary in order to discover that formal sterility and strictly functional relationships didn't satisfy peoples' need for dynamic, varied and interactive spaces. The reaction to this approach was famously the Post-Modern "movement" and the later development of Deconstructivism and Blobitecture. We're now in a transition towards structures and places that incorporate ecological principles, which will give rise to hopefully more coherent approaches to form, with an inclusion of local character and materials.

Making places that engage " the real" provide a deep satisfaction to people, particularly as we seek to escape the manufactured experiences of the theme park world, mall spaces and the eternal online digital experience that's now shaping our world view. Some of the better and more dynamic urban projects, such as the Copenhagen Concert Hall (which clearly owes a debt to Gehry's Disney Hall here in LA and the predecessor to THAT, the Berlin Philharmonic) open the design vocabulary to the urban and/or natural environment with stunningly successful results.