Styles change, style doesn’t… | old saying
I was always skeptical about the abstract generic definitions. In politics such definitions are called political systems or movements. In art it’s called “style”. But linguistically it’s the “SSDD”. As a rule, those sophisticated definitions are ending on suffix “-ism”. English “-ism” derives from Latin –“-ismus” which comes from Greek words ending in -ισμός (-ismos).
Feudalism, fascism, capitalism, socialism, communism, impressionism, modernism, cubism, suprematism, surrealism, minimalism… We all know the schpeel. As time goes by we run out of cool Latin/Greek terms and we start to use fancy prefixes. That’s how we get neo-conservatism, post-modernism, de-constructivism… We don’t stop here though. Once the antique grammar reserves are emptied we invent “movements”, “schools” and “styles” by gluing “ism” to any word. As a result we get such weird “animals” as machismo, ableism (the synonym in Google is word “able-bodyism”, no kidding!), brutalism, libertarianism (try to pronounce it… or to spell it correctly without computerized spell-check)… As you can see there’s no limit to our idiotism.
Architecture is an art (is it?) completely based on those pseudo-intellectual “-isms”. The entire history of architecture is chronologically divided and precisely categorized by those “styles”.
The other question is who’s organized things in such order? Who has attached ridiculous labels to the billions of the unique projects? Who are those Gods branding the Universe of the architecture from antique Greece (classicism) till modern Japan (minimalism)? “The Gods” are usually all-knowing critics, people who write about architecture, people who for some reason believe that they present public opinion. Such belief is based on the critics’ supposedly deep historical knowledge… Typically the knowledge means they are able to attribute those artificial “-ism” definitions to any original structure. Funny isn’t it? Yet that’s how it works these days.
So I have decided to help you, architects. Stick to the “–ism” before you design the project. Use Latin words, rather than intellect. Make sure you have trendy name first. There’s no need to worry about the clever design and the devil which is stuck in the details. Just mix few universal ingredients and you will be proclaimed the great cook… oops… sorry architect of neo-modernism in the era of post-capitalism. Here are some recipes .
Create some twisted skeleton for a weird tower structure with a spiral element a-la Escher. Make sure it’s not falling apart immediately. The rest is irrelevant: envelope doesn’t exist; function is not important. Replace all specifics with a lot of abstract enthusiasm and expressive graphics. Red color? Yes, a lot. Cyrillic letters? Absolutely. Borrow it from some old communist posters. Mention Bauhaus & Russian revolution. You are all set. Don’t overdo it, constructivism is pretty close to communism…
First of all do not dare to build. Your project must remain on paper. There’s no need in design development, not to mention the working drawings. See? Easy. You have to create few pictures with the millions of chaotic lines, abstract shapes and weird marks. Preferably the lines to be painted diagonally. So you can feel the “dynamics”, the “movement”, the “energy of destruction”. Good idea would be to scan your masterpiece and to use all possible effects and filters from Photoshop or any other software. It will make your statement more radical. After that write an essay illustrated with your images. Provide a mysterious title for each of the drawings. Something like: “Composition 5” or “Psychedelic impression”. Mention in your piece Jacques Derrida; emphasize personal sentiment for socialism, pacifism & social activism. Don’t worry about too many –isms. It works.
Don’t bother about the architectonics, massing studies or finishes selection. The simplest concrete box is the only thing you want. The simplest! No finishes whatsoever. An exposed concrete is more than enough. The same goes for the interiors. If they (those stupid habitants) don’t like it – spray white color everywhere. Remember – white only! Add few narrow accidental openings in the envelope. Frameless. (Yes it’s expensive, but don’t worry about the budget.) And that’s basically it. When the photographs are taken place a single white (white!) chair in the middle of the depressing concrete space as a final touch. If your company’s name sounds like Japanese (it’s very-very important) you are the real master of minimalism. If you are too far from Japanese spirit pretend being Scandinavian. It helps.
Actually it’s almost the same as minimalism. Minimalism becomes brutalism when your concrete box has a huge size. Otherwise it’s even easier. Don’t worry about the white. (Exposed concrete everywhere – fuck it!). Don’t worry about the tricky location of the openings (Do monotonous rows along the front façade and no openings at the back – that’s it). Don’t worry about that lonely chair during the photo-session. And don’t worry about the Japanese name. English, Russian, Spanish, German – practically anything will do (not so sure about the Italian though)
The easiest one. Do nothing creative. Nothing. Literally. Keep saying: less is more. Use black and white palette. Tell that rationalism guides the concept, thus you don’t have to worry about the coordination between the architectural design and the shop drawings from the manufacturers. Actually let the manufacturers to do the architectural design. Don’t waste your time. The client will be happy. But make sure that you drive the process in terms of the PR. Otherwise the client might realize that all he needs is a structural engineer, a builder and the windows manufacturer. In order to avoid this situation open some aluminum windows plant and hire yourself as a subcontractor. Money and fame at the same time. Not bad.
That’s the tricky one. You have to convince everyone that your lack of talent and taste is actually a conscious intellectual parody that creatively reworks the irrelevant conceptualism of the obsolete classic canons. Holy smoke! Let me re-read what I ‘ve written here… Let’s put it simple. Pick some ugly ceramic finishes for the building with the fake Disneyland look. Don’t worry about the proportions, scale or visual adequacy. The uglier – the better. Use fake colorful materials, make giant entrance element and erect disproportional statues of some animals on top of the building. Write a book. Be sarcastic. Remember your total lack of artistic talent is a huge advantage. Use it.
This one is a different game. You have to be solid, conservative, boring. You have to wear a tie & a top-hat. No jeans. No iPad or Sony laptop either. Dark leather folders only. You have to produce a bunch of extraneous details and to explain to your client that in accordance with the classical orders the use of Corinthian colonnade wrapping around the entire building is a minimum requirement. That client must accept that the crepidoma without the stilobate is worthless, not to mention the utter importance of the diaxial symmetry between the opisthodomos & the pronaos. As an opposite of brutalism Italian name comes handy here… British accent helps enormously. But the best thing would be to hang out with Prince Charles. On the other hand… if you hang out with Prince Charles why on Earth you need to waste your time on Architecture?
Oh, common this is so obsolete. A totally worthless element nowadays. If you follow my tips you don’t need it. You can lose 20 pounds in 3 days; you can make a million dollars within a week , you can become a famous artist with no effort. Yes, you can. Everything is possible in our world full of cynicism…