“Landscape is the Architect’s Sex”
December 1, 2011
Hadid’s Performing Arts Center on Saadiyat Island; Detail from Stan Allen and Marc McQuade’s Landform Building. Via Design Observer.
Go check out David Heymann’s piece on Design Observer today. It’s a fantastic critique of landscape-as-architecture, a trope that’s been employed as a rationalization tool by architects ranging from Zaha Hadid to Glenn Murcutt.
Heymann says the logic that informs many of these beautiful buildings (“landscape is good, buildings are landscape, so buildings are good”) is ultimately farcical: all buildings that impose on the earth are implicitly aggressive. We only invoke poeticisms like “phenomenology” and “regionalism” to deal with the cognitive dissonance between the architect’s job (building things) and the architect’s will to do good by the natural world. ”Landscape is our sex,” says Heymann, and architects use it as a crutch in the same way advertisers depend on sex to sell. Read on.
Ennead Architects’ Natural History Museum of Utah.
Heymann’s is a long overdue comment. The two stars of contemporary post-rationalization — diagramming and scripting — have been repeatedly struck down in criticism (which doesn’t stop anyone from invoking them, but hey, it’s the thought that counts), but the craze for “mapping,” (or extrapolating elements of the site into a design that ostensibly takes some wisdom from the natural earth) has been a tough one to challenge.
The problem with challenging even the most shoddily-constructed arguments for architecture, says Heymann, is that an architect only must convince a client of their validity to build a building. The dialogue ends there, and so “the conceptual problems I have been describing are thus not a big deal professionally (though they are frankly unforgiveable within academic architectural discourse).” In other words, we can all return to our regularly scheduled program of artfully sketching wobbly lines over a site plan on trace paper.
Check out the full piece here.
Morphosis’ Diamond Ranch High School, plus an aerial view.