„Ten sam typ myślenia, który w literaturze produkuje źle skomponowane powieści i nudne sztuki, w architekturze powoduje rany widoczne nawet z kosmosu. Zła architektura jest zamrożoną pomyłką zapisaną dużymi literami.” (Same type of thinking which in literature produces badly written novels and boring plays, in architecture causes wounds seen from the Universe. Bad architecture is a frozen mistake written with capital letters.)
Architecture because of its scale has the edge over other things and fields of art. We treat it with bigger respect probably because of the fear that it will eat us. We allow its existance regardless of its quality, as if it is something absolute and irreversible, given once and for all by God. We forgot that all these eyesores were made by people like us and that it was a chance to avoid it.
When we look at a building in front of us we should have in mind that sometime it didn’t exist. Seriously. It doesn’t matter how long we will travel in time, someday there was a piece of land or a growing tree. And there is a question: does this THING, which took away from us a fragment of nature, have any value, maybe small advantage, anything to stand for? If yes – okay, we also need some buildings, and for a few it is worth to die, but if not irritation should flare. After all, even if we are not users of this building, we are all pedestrians and have the misfortune to look at it. We can also be unlucky and live nearby. Funny how inclusive this business is.
Trying to analyse a problem with architecture critisism we should start with a scale. It is big, bigger than us, instinct of self-preservation suggests us to run or at least a caution. Even though we are its owners, it is only some bricks and plaster, its size and apparent durability intimidate us, it is hard to imagine its quick annihilation or throwing away. What’s more it is impossible to lift it, move, manipulate, our power is smaller than over spoon or a bowl. And finally it can literally hurt us. Of course it is possible to break the arm falling off a chair, but collapsing ceilings are far more attractive.
Lack of knowledge how a buiding is rising tell us to look at it with respect: how it is even possible that it stands and not tumble down, how long does it take. There is also banal financial issue, difficulties, dirt and noise of demolition, traffic congestions. And whether it is worth to do something with it, it stands for a long time, can stand a little bit more. Better not touch, it can come alive and run its own empire.
Finally it appears that „tych niefortunnych decyzji nie można przypisać ani ręce Boga, ani żadnej innej gospodarczej czy politycznej konieczności ani też życzeniom kupujących – są one raczej skutkiem banalnego połączenia niskich ambicji, ignorancji, chciwości i przypadku” (these unfortunate decisions are not according to God’s hand, or any other economic or political need, neither clients’ will – they are result of banal fusion of low ambitions, ignorance, greed and coincidence). Despite our fear or respect, these buildings are just wrong decisions, which should be deplore as any others. Amount of money, scaffolds and people taking part in this show don’t change anything.
„ARCHITEKTONICZNA MIERNOŚĆ NIE POWINNA NAS ONIEŚMIELAĆ BARDZIEJ NIŻ NIESPRAWIEDLIWE PRAWO CZY NONSENSOWNY ARGUMENT”. (ARCHITECTURAL MEDIOCRITY SHOULDN’T INTIMIDATE US MORE THAN UNFAIR LAW OR NONSENSE ARGUMENT)
Let’s go and preach. Maybe we’ve got a chance to change something?
Quotes: Alain de Botton “Architecture of happiness”, czuły barbarzyńca, Warsaw 2010 (and my own awesome translation)
Picture: The Elephant Building in Bangkok