27 November 2005

Blame it on Art

There's an interesting article in the New York times that Matthew just brought to my attention, and since I'm out of time for my post today, I'm passing it on.

The thesis of the article seems to be that, yeah, architecture matters. Here's a quote:

Le Corbusier called houses "machines for living." France's housing projects, as we now know, became machines for alienation. In theory, the cause of this alienation is some mix of the buildings themselves and the way they're joined to the city. But in practice, the most effective urban renewal has tended to focus on the buildings. It focuses on the buildings by razing them.

Could it be that these houses were so bad that they actually are responsible for social unrest, spontaneous violence, and general human unhappiness? Is that even reasonable? It looks a little like scapegoating to me, but at least they aren't blaming the Louvre.

This article isn't alone, by the way. In fact, the failure of modern architecture to be the promised utopia was a catalyst that brought about post-modernism, that great enigma of art, philosophy, and life. More about that later. I promise.

Anyway, have any of you ever been in an architectural space that just made you feel like a hoodlum? I have. Low ceilings and happy me don't mix.


Fouad said...

I think Le Corbusier was absolutely right. Where and how you live defines you to a large extent. Our ego, as individuals and as groups, tends to dissolve in the spaces we haunt, and vice versa. That's why architecture is such a defining charcteristic of people and civilizations.

Mary Ann said...

Hmmm. I think the idea has merit, but his implementation failed to produce the outcome he wanted. His idea was essentially that efficient, functional architecture would lead to efficient, functional individuals and societies. That hypothesis may be true, but it didn't work with his designs. Maybe some one else will be able to find the perfect architecture to bring it about.