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Innovation in ArchitectureViews: 257
Sep 16, 2009 3:15 amInnovation in Architecture#

John Stephen Veitch
I found this talk on TED by Bjarke Ingels was totally on topic regarding Innovation. When you DO SOMETHING even your failures add to your chances of success.


This team have taken on tasks the look like mission impossible to me. But look at the results. Amazing.

John Stephen Veitch; The Network Ambassador
Open Future Limited - http://www.openfuture.co.nz/
Innovation Network - http://veech-network.ryze.com/
Building an Open Future - http://openfuture-network.ryze.com/

Private Reply to John Stephen Veitch

Sep 17, 2009 3:30 amre: Innovation in Architecture#

The presentation is fresh, engaging and entertaining but requires some comment.
There are a number of valuable urban planning ideas that have been implemented in some places for some time and deserve to be taken up at larger scale in more places. There are also a number of fascinating ideas at the larger architectural design scale -- for instance, the idea of architecture as mountains. Together with other, blatantly formal architectural devices, they should however make it clear that their merit is mainly that of being 'new' and
'different',-- something I do not want to dismiss by any means -- but not necessarily constituting a significant improvement of the way the architecture serves the lives of its users. Some ideas have actually been around for some time -- as a member of a group called 'GEAM' -- Groupe d'Etude d'Architecture Mobile decades ago in Europe -- that promoted large scale urban megastructures in which super-efficient structural frameworks were provided and coordinated with the other collective infrastructure (transportation systems both horizontal, vertical and diagonal, services such as power, water, sewage, gas etc.) but the permitted users to insert their 'infill' according to their own preferences and changing needs (changing over time and thus adapting to changing needs), I explored the 'diagonal city' version of such megastructures -- which offered space for housing units with garden terraces on the outside, and covered urban spaces on the 'inside'. Compared to those concepts, the spaces in the buildings proposed in the presentation are horrifyingly uniform, the design dominated by ideas that are very far from paying attention to actual user needs and use patterns; not even functionality. The triangular balconies in one project are a case in point: what occasions or patterns of use might possibly occur there -- a small gathering for afternoon coffee, for example? or growing some flowers? -- other than the single user stepping out for a minute to admire the grand architecture and view, but not even being able to put a comfortable chair out there. And what kinds of people are those folks inhabiting those buildings?
This has led me to suggest a very different conceptual framework for the architectural discourse: architecture providing places (buildings and outside areas) that will accommodate the human occasions that constitute our lives (the ones we call 'memorable' when they 'click' in adequate surroundings...) with a design that evokes and suggests appropriate images -- of who we are (or ought to be), what we are doing (or ought to be doing) by conveying what kind of place this is. This is a demanding program -- for example, not only must the place 'invite' users to the occasions by visibly conveying the variety of occasions in which they might engage there, and how well the place might work for those; the imagery also must be able to be read and interpreted at several different levels, depending on what the respective users bring to the occasion.
The ultimate expectation would be that the place might invite, encourage users to invent and develop new, innovative occasions (ways of life) -- lives more human, interesting, dignified, and fulfilling, lives that are the users' vision and creation, not just letting them rearrange IKEA furniture and knicknacks in utterly normalized, standardized 'dwelling units'. I don't see much of such encouragement in those projects, even as they do support the glorification of the institutions (governments or large corporations) that build such things.
I just finished a book 'The Fog Island Tavern' about this (among other things); I can send a prepublication CD to interested people; it's loo large for an email attachment. On the same theme, a while ago I wrote a poem about some similar piece of stunning architecture:

looking at pictures of new skyscrapers in Dubai

Couldn't I too have become an architect
an architect of highrise office buildings
or grand airport terminals
those greatest monuments
of our current civilization
-- cathedrals, palaces or temples
or even megamansions
today don't cut it anymore --
that make designers famous?

wasn't I one time on the way there too --
what was it then, that did derail
or save me? too late now
looking at pictures of such buildings
in famous faraway Dubai
where I just know I'll never go;
no business there,
my travel days long over

but I do wonder now
can I admire how those designers
celebrated their creativity:
what one can do even within
ROI constraints and expectations?

or is it background radiating jealousy
that makes me think now
perhaps of a person behind the window
on, say, the SW corner of the 27th floor
whose face, or smile I can't imagine
at this distance from below, driving by
with quick furtive upward glances
for surely there can be no place there
for a pedestrian walking by these crystal towers:

I wonder now:
what is she doing, up there, who is he,
what would it be like to be his friend?
what dreams of hers, or his, to share
does this great building help him grow,
sustain, or slowly choking off?

Private Reply to abbeboulah

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