GSD Thesis

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Sketch by MvdR of a theater project.

I’m pleased to include the link to my thesis book for anyone interested in getting a copy.  It is the culmination of everything I explored in this blog.  This book is an investigation of duality present in the architecture of Mies van der Rohe.   The title, Resolution and Tension, draws attention to a strange duality within the concept of duality itself  (stick with me).  

A classical approach to  duality  attempts to  resolve contradictions, creating a sense of completion.  In postmodernity the opposite –an exploitation of unresolved duality–consciously occurs.  This irresolution leads to dynamic tension, which is the opposite of classical repose.  

The investigation of Mies van der Rohe stunningly reveals that he exploited both types of duality, because he understood that not all contradictions within architecture could be solved.  

Enjoy!  

http://www.lulu.com/shop/andrew-gleeson/resolution-and-tension/paperback/product-21021051.html;jsessionid=743078E4C4CE914D631EF8AF69548B7D

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‘The Lie that Reveals Truth.”

To illustrate one of the concepts in my blog concerning expressive rationalism I have doctored up an image of Mies’ unbuilt 50X50 house.  The sequence demonstrates the attenuating power of honesty in architecture. Honesty can obscure the clear diagram of a built work.  One must work through a building according to its functional demands, but beyond that, and in order to create architecture, one must go a step further and create poetry out of it.  One way this is accomplished is through distillation. Effectively then, the “true” work is revealed in reverse of this sequence; when excessive rationalities are hidden to reveal a truth about the work that is more spiritually honest.

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I: 50X50 House by Mies Van Der Rohe. 1950-51 (Project model photo collage.)

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II: The addition of edge columns give further support to the roof and facade.  They
also define and confine the rectangular volume.

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III: The addition of shear truss members further supports the roof and columns. They
also obscure the view and introduce the diagonal, which does violence to the atmosphere
of the space.

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IV: The final step is the addition of a hipped rood (actually taken from Frank Lloyd
Wright’s Winslow House) to protect from rainwater.  The house is now a silly parody
of itself, but it is also hyper rationalized.  I could perhaps go one step further and add
sunshades, or better yet, plaster the walls and insert regualr double hung windows.

The architect works through this push and pull between rational and spiritual directives.  This push and pull comes internally, with our competing desires for honesty and beauty.  The push is also external.  The weight of gravity and the necessity of program and clients needs are an obstactle pushing against our own desires.  The internal and external duality will be explored further in a later post.

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The Apollonian and Dionysian in Architecture.

Architecture is the synthesis between the real and the spiritual.  The real is the body of elements that influence a building towards its practical function; it is the rationalist necessity or the objective aims of built works.  The spiritual is that in a  building which is unrelated to, and unsupported by, necessity.  The spiritual is borne of a desire to create something that transcends the laws of practical reality. It is the will to create beauty; to satisfy a deep unknowable longing.  In theory the real is objective and the subjective is spiritual, however, the objective is continuously tempered by the bias of the individual. Conversely, when subjectivity resonates with an almost universal approval, or is validated in time with age value, the notion of total subjectivity can blur.  The purely pragmatic is merely shelter; the purely aesthetic is merely sculpture. 

 The aesthetic, spiritual element in architecture can be self-reflexive, taking cues from methods previously thought of as objective, rational and appropriate. On the other hand, aesthetics can run counter to the practicalities of built work. These a-tectonic gestures seek to divorce the pragmatic aims of a built work from its aesthetic aims.  Objectivist aesthetics can be found in the expressive rationalism of Louis Sullivan’s skyscrapers or the pure structural diagram of Crown Hall by Mies Van Der Rohe, while Erich Mendelsohn’s Einstein tower or Frank Gehry’s Bilbao Museum represent blatantly subjective aims. 

 With expressive rationalism, aesthetics take on an Apollonian desire towards discipline and restraint.  The work seeks a rhythm in accordance with its own demands; it rests within its own framed completion.  Expressionist architecture respects the Dionysian; it desires play, and a break from discipline: freedom of unadulterated expression removed from the demands of corporeal constraints (structure, program, gravity, client, budget).

 Nietzsche writes that the Apollonian seeks out truth and regards its expression as symbolic of that truth.  It seeks to eliminate contradiction and is thus inflexible: it is catholic.  The Apollonian does not acknowledge its temporary nature.  Instead it often whole-heartedly mistakes itself for an expression of timelessness.   Its aims are thus purely spiritual even if they poetically echo the diagram of the pragmatic work (late Mies Van Der Rohe). 

 The Dionysian is aware of the subjective nature of aesthetic expression.  It is open to its openness of interpretation.  It is nebulous and aware that its perception will change with time.  It acknowledges time and may chose to celebrate temporality and the torrid nature of perception.  Building materials are thus made with weathering in mind. The building is not suspended in an ideal state: it has an intended lifespan.  This very duality between the Apollonian and the Dionysian is denied by the former and embraced by the latter.

 Regardless of whether aesthetics are Apollonian or Dionysian, they are always in contrast to the true demands of the built work.  Pragmatic reality is constantly an opposing force against the creative will to order or make poetry of the raw necessities of shelter. Once the work is actually projected onto clients, budgets, and regulations, each of the architect’s careful fantasies is sifted through the filter of realistic demands.  Thus there is the duality between the pragmatic and the aesthetic. As stated above, there is also an additional, nested duality in this paradigm between an aesthetics of pragmatism and an aesthetics of pure art. 

 Architecture itself is an expression of this very duality.  It is a manifestation of the frustration between the purity of artistic thought and the constraints of reality.  The acknowledgement of duality itself is thus the foundation and tension found in great works of architecture.

 

More on that later….

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Mies-Conceptions

MVDR: Seagram Building. 1954-1958 Axiality and plaza.

Forty-two years after his death many people still have misconceptions about the architecture of Mies Van Der Rohe.  Below I will list a few elements of Mies’ architecture that may have been lost in the broad definition of his work.  Mies is branded as a minimalist and a rationalist. He is relegated to his famous phrase “Less is More” but with none of the subtle contradictions that this saying implies.  A closer study of his work reveals that he did not shun the complexities of architecture lightly, but tried to find a way to reconcile spiritual ambition within the context of built reality.

1.  Mies was indifferent to context:

Contrary to assumption about his work and its disconnect with the surrounding environment, Mies Van Der Rohe was probably one of the true innovators of contextuality within an urban fabric! At first glance, his tightly packaged skyscrapers may look unsympathetic to the site, but Mies spent countless hours in quiet contemplation overlooking models of his buildings in a site model.  He would crouch down and look at them from the angle of the street and carefully study their proportions in relation to the surrounding buildings until he arrived at a solution that was right for the site.  Not only that, but in almost all of his skyscraper work, he truly innovated by introducing a plaza element that would break up the monotonous wall of buildings within a city. These plazas were almost always successful meeting grounds for city inhabitants.  They also became the precedent for countless other successful plazas like the Daley Plaza in Chicago.

The clearest example of this is the Seagram Building in New York City, a building that is very much a part of its context. Considering how expensive real estate in New York is, Mies did something crazy by proposing to set the building back from the street to create a public plaza.  This kind of innovative thinking allowed him to create a moment of repose in the constant shuffle of the city.  If Mies had truly been a rationalist and a minimalist he would have maximized the site for the most efficient and money making building footprint.  It is also worth imagining that his ego might have enjoyed the idea that people would actually be able to see his building from the street without having to crick their necks!  By pulling it back he made the Seagram Building photogenic. (And fortuitously his plaza also gave Ezra Stoller the chance to take that famous photo of the Lever building across the street!)  Another obvious acknowledgement to the site is the axiality of the main entrance with the Beaux Arts Building across the street.  This was an obvious and carefully planned classicist move that is further proof that Mies was fully aware of his surroundings and his buildings made important enriching contributions to their context.  Of course there are countless other examples of sympathetic contextuality in his other works but I will move along for now.  (but do see this post that further elaborates: http://thelyingtruthofarchitecture.wordpress.com/2011/01/02/reactions-to-context-the-duality-of-the-circumstantial-and-the-willed-2/  ).

 2. Mies was a pure rationalist: 

The clarity of Mies’ built work has led many to mislabel him a pure rationalist, but in truth his buildings were major aesthetic refinements of the rationalist problems at hand.  They were distillations of function not pure function.  They were decorative in service to the idealism of a clear structure.  Had he been a pure rationalist it is doubtful he would have used symmetry to accommodate functional requirements.  Inherently, program is complex and there are many different needs a building must offer.  Symmetry becomes an ordered/willed refinement of program.  That is not to say that a symmetrical building cannot function as well as a non-symmetrical building; it is dependent on how rigorous the demands of program are (for example the demands of a hospital are much more rigorous than the demands of a small museum) and the diligence of the architect in planning the building.

Furthermore, had Mies been a pure rationalist he probably would have expressed the shear triangulation in his skyscrapers instead of hiding it behind walls in his cores.  The repression of triangulation is a distillation of a clear structure.  It is ideological honesty that avoids the overt complexity of the actual situation.

Most famously, and without too much elaboration here, Mies’ decorative use of the I-Beam is not a move a pure rationalist would take.  Mies used the I-Beam to express the hidden steel structure of his skyscrapers.  This is a gesture of expressionism, not rationalism, but it is done with such ease and refinement it appears logical, rational, and precisely the way that it should be.  Herein lies the genius of Mies; he cloaked aesthetic will in such a refined way that it appears rationalist!

Barcelona Pavilion colors.

 3. Mies did not use color: 

Before the restoration of the Barcelona Pavilion, many have been led to believe that Mies only really worked with very drab colors; black, white, gray and tan.  But upon closer inspection the work of Mies Van Der Rohe is populated with luxuriant colors and textures.  In the Barcelona Pavilion he used a large variety of different colored marble each with their own boldness.  He used tinted glass and red velvet curtains.  These all combined in a kaleidoscope of color that offsets the abstract planarity of the rest of the building.  Colors contribute to the dynamic shifts of the plan, it gives the experience vitality.  As the years went on Mies’ color palette became subtler but I would argue no less delightful.  In the buildings at IIT, the tan bricks and tinted windows offset with the gray painted steel create a very subtle and magical color scheme that I personally find to be one of the saving graces of these otherwise slightly clumsy early American examples of his work.  The Seagram building of course is clad in rich bronze and the windows are similarly tinted in a rich dark color, which contrasts beautifully with the coolness of the travertine floor and cores.  Colors here express the luxury of the client, they express decadence.

MVDR: Courtyard House. 1934

4. Mies never used organic forms: 

Mies is usually thought of as a maker of rectangular volumes in architecture.  His forms are generally linked to very rigid orthographic typologies.  This is not a concrete rule however.  Mies deviated from these forms in ideology and necessity on occasion.   His two early avant-garde skyscraper projects of the early 20’s were responses to a complex wedge shaped site as well as a considered reaction to the reflective materiality of glass.   These early projects were a revolutionary approach to design at the time, reflecting a break from the past rather than a progression.  In America Mies would find a way to acknowledge the past and build for his time.

The little seen floor plan for one of Mies’ proposed court houses is a rectangular enclosure with interior walls composed of gently curving walls.  The rhythm of the curves are very atypical of his work but seem to have the same De Stilj-like spatial relationship of the planar walls in his other court house projects and the Barcelona Pavilion.  The Barcelona Pavilion is equally famous for the chair that Mies designed for it.   The very non-orthogonal Barcelona Chair (as opposed to Rietveld’s chair) is a simple form of slightly curving criss-crossed steel member that converge in the middle. Above the crossing is the seat and back, below the crossing are the four legs. This is a clear and important reminder that Mies had concern for human comfort in ways that Frank Lloyd Wright and other contemporaries did not.  It also makes an important distinction between the decorum of furniture and building.    A building need not be ergonomic, while a chair requires itself to respond to the immediate experience of its user.  Mies is making a clear distinction here.

Reichsbank site plan. Mies being contextual.

Museum of Fine Arts. Houston. 1954. (photo by Ezra Stoller)

Other more pragmatic examples of a gentle curve find themselves in the proposal for the massive unbuilt Reichsbank and the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas. Both of these buildings use gentle curves as responses to site context.  They disprove the notion that Mies was rigid in his insistence on orthogonal space.

One could argue Mies' unencumbered views of nature have more in common with nature than the confused mimesis of FLLW.

5. Mies was anti-nature:

With his industrial aesthetic and material coldness Mies has been accused of shunning nature.  However, the Farnsworth house has an intimate relationship with nature.  One could argue that one is closer to nature in this house than ever with a Frank Lloyd Wright house. FLLW blends the building with nature, which confuses the transition.  But Mies frames nature without fuss, he brings it in and makes it an overwhelming part of the experience of the house.  By not imitating nature, he heightens the “nature-ness” of nature and in turn heightening the “manmade-ness” of the building.  The white absorbs and bounces all the colors of the natural world.  In fall the building has a completely different tone than in winter.  The house is like tofu: it absorbs the characteristics of its surroundings.

Bacardi Building. 1957. Concrete structure.

6.  Mies never reacted to environment:

Because Mies’ work was concerned in the refinement over time of general problems of architecture, he has been accused of having no sympathy towards his immediate environment or the reality of the situation.  This can be true to a certain extent, but looking at his work more closely one finds that many of his decisions were based on the environment he built in.  This is distinct from his reactions to context, this point is about his reaction to environmental and natural conditions.

When designing the Bacardi Office in Cuba he proposed a concrete structure because the humid environment would have quickly rusted one made of steel.  This is a consideration made in response to the problem at hand; it is not Mies’ arbitrary will to create a building that has no relationship with reality. Problem dictates approach.   Similarly Mies used tinted glass in all of his later skyscraper projects as an acknowledgment to the real world factors of climate.  Also, as a general rule, Mies colored his urban and rural buildings in different fashions.  Dark colors were used in the dense cities perhaps pragmatically to conceal the smog of car emissions.  White was used in rural settings to absorb more warmly the desired colors of nature.   Of course, I would not be so bold as to say that Mies was positively sympathetic to his environment in the ways that current issues of sustainability are requiring.  I’m merely saying that Mies buildings did acknowledge real needs and did so in a subtle fashion.

Mies Van Der Rohe was no slouch; he spent much of his adult life carefully considering the problems of architecture.  The very subtlety of his work can lead people to believe his solutions unconsidered. This is a paradox. Hmmm perhaps I should explore the duality of careful attention creating an unwilling perception of carelessness!

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1+1=1: The Nagging Tooth of Architecture.

The Oculus of the Pantheon. Rome, Italy (Photo by Argitect)

Finally, after putting it off for years, I had my wisdom teeth removed last week.  Over the next couple of days the effects of the surgery were pervasive.  It affected the way I breathed *, it affected how I ate and drank.  The pain was steady enough to be noticeable.  The absence of my teeth became my fundamental identity for this recovery weekend.  I could manage minor but brief diversions watching epic movies and sleeping, but the consciousness of my circumstance was never more than an inch from my thoughts.

In this half awake pain pill fueled stupor I had a minor epiphany:  “The aching in my mouth is the dominant theme of my life at this moment.  It is the one thing that really identifies me right now.  It puts everything in simple concentrated focus.”    Here’s the leap:  There are certain buildings that also have this concentrated focus, this one element that identifies every inch of the building.  There are certain structures where one centralizing element has such magnetic force it informs and influences all other parts of the design.

The prime example of this is the Pantheon in Rome.  The oculus at the top of the dome is the nucleus of the whole design.   Every element is in service to and seems to have force directed towards the oculus. Even though the structure is bringing load downward, it appears that the entire interior facade is thrusting towards the apex.  The coffers in the domes bend radially and are stretched as if in exaggerated perspective towards the oculus. The pediments point towards it. The columns, pilasters and niches all seem to be spiritually informed or tugged by the oculus. This is a very elusive and vague thing to describe, but for some reason this potent force, almost intangible, is felt in this place. It leaves an impression that taints the view of every element of the structure.  Part to whole is in complete unity.   Even outside one is seared with the memory of the oculus (and perhaps even literally has a blind spot in there eye from looking into it for too long!)  The oculus stays with you and blinds all your memories of the place. The Pantheon IS the oculus, and nothing else!

This is a kind of element in design I would  call the Dominant Father.  A young child, growing up with an overbearing disciplinarian father, will constantly live in fear of his father. All decisions and actions are framed in relationships to the consequence of his father’s reaction to it.  Life becomes about one thing only. This constant obsessive thought taints everything.  Perhaps the metaphor is not ideal in that it suggests hostility, but the metaphor works in the sense that it describes a concept of one germinating element that informs all other components.  This can also be found in literature: The search for Kurtz in Heart of Darkness Poe’s Tell Tale Heart, or the White Whale in Moby Dick are constant looming thoughts in the respective novels.

This does not happen in that many buildings, and quite frankly it is something I am less comfortable in assigning because it is such an intangible, spiritual, feeling.  Nevertheless, I will cite several examples I think may fit the Dominant Father concept in architecture.

A courtyard in a Pompeian Villa. Photo by Argitect.

-The Pompeian Villa:  The central courtyard in a typical Pompeian villa, open to the sunshine and in a central location to the house, is the dominant life force of the house. It is the spoke in which functions surround.  It is pervasive, and is not far from the dwellers mind even if they are in a room where they do not see the courtyard directly.

A golden section diagram of Palladio's Villa Rotunda.

-Villa Rotunda: Similar to the Villas of Pompeii, but perhaps more refined, the Villa Rotunda by Andrea Palladio is a buildings whose rigorous proportioning are informed and tainted by the impression of the centralized dome.  It affects every element of design with its spiritual exhalations.

Barcelona Pavilion. Kolbe Sculture. I like to call her the BarPa Water Lady!

-Barcelona Pavilion:  The Barcelona Pavilion by Mies Van Der Rohe is a rare modernist example of this idea although the dominant element is not even architectural. The Kolbe Sculpture in the water at the far end of the Pavilion is the entire heart of the design. It is impossible to see the building as complete without it. It counterpoints and gives heart to the abstract planes that gently envelope it.  One is struck by its singular gravity, and it forms a place in your mind that sticks with you even when you can’t see it.  The sculpture becomes the one thought of the building!

Salk Institute. Louis Kahn. Basically the only photograph necessary.

-The Salk Institute:  The dominant element in the Salk Institute by Louis Kahn is also not technically architectural. Instead of being the building it is the void between the buildings.  The courtyard puts every element of the design into laser focus.  More specifically, the narrow channel of water down the center of the courtyard is the nucleus of the whole building, the spiritual center of the space.  Bays in the building seem to thrust toward it in response like sunflowers facing the sunshine.  To a certain degree the focusing courtyard also reaches out to the distant landscape. The water and the horizon are brought in and framed by the courtyard.  Horizon is also part of this dominant element.   In the windowless laboratories one may still feel the presence of this space.

These examples all seem to have this intangible dominant nucleus space that informs the design. It can simply be a skylight, a void, a sculpture or any other building component.   It’s like the nagging pain of a pulled tooth, or the manipulation of a dominant father.  Unlike my previous posts concerning the dual nature of architecture this is a concept of holistic unity. This unity, however, cannot be achieved without a masterful meeting between the pragmatic reality of built form and its aesthetic expression. All elements of construction can conform to the single idea.  The purely willed and distilled artistic filtration of these pragmatic concerns can heighten the potency of this dominant vision better than mere rationalism.   So in the end, the dual nature of architecture must be acknowledged in creating an architecture of singular unity.  How’s that for a paradox?

*It’s like that great line in Chinatown. Yellburton: You ought to be more careful. That must really smart.  Jack Nicholson: “Only when I breath.”

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Dual Natured Architecture

Walter Gropius standing next to a building that would never get built.

 “With mirth in funeral, and with dirge in marriage. In equal scale weighing delight and dole.”  William Shakespeare, Hamlet

Strikes and Gutters –  The Big Lebowski

The theory of dual natured architecture is itself a duality.  It could be criticized as being simplistic in its blind categorization of all the complexities of architecture into one single idea.  This is precisely the point.  Duality in architecture, as a law, is both simple and complex.

-It is simple in that the general thesis is a notion that anything has its opposing force.

-It is complex in that there are a nearly endless variety of these dualities.

There are also fundamental dualities in architecture and peripheral dualities in architecture.

-The fundamental duality is the tug of war between pragmatic and spiritual (aesthetic) agendas.  It is the balance between the circumstantial and the willed.  It is the ability to improvise within rigidity.

-Peripheral dualities are the many piecemeal results of built architecture.   Glass is both transparent and obfuscating.  It allows one to see through it, but reflections also distort reality.   It is the contrasting games and implicit decorum between a sculpture and a building in close proximity.

Architecture is the search for the god of the unknown and the god of the logical.  It is possible that a logical approach gives us insight into the unknown.

Of all the arts, architecture is the one most mired by reality.  The architect’s goal of expressing a spiritual notion can only be accomplished within the confines of the god of gravity, and the god of budget, and the god of client.

Duality stretches out beyond architecture.  In the largest sense, birth and death are our tethering antipodes.  On a smaller scale, we are constantly navigating the terrain between good and bad news.  One of the happiest moments of this year for me was the announcement that I got accepted into the Harvard GSD.  I was at work at the time, and saw that I had an email in my inbox. The email was from Harvard.  The previous Friday I had been rejected from Yale so I was preparing myself for more bad news.  I breathed in a disappointed sigh, although my heart was already pumping, and opened up the email.  The first word I saw was Congratulations followed by an exclamation point.  I’d gotten in!   I couldn’t believe it I, I was ecstatic.  I called my parents immediately to let them know the news.  Unfortunately, on this same day, our longtime cat, the one I grew up with, was found dead at the bottom of my parents stairs.  He had been sick for a while, so it wasn’t totally unexpected, but the news came at a strange time to say the least.  My happiness was tempered, but my sadness was also alleviated.  The result is a strange sensation.   This kind of thing happens all the time.  We live in a world of things we understand and things we do not.

Duality is a simple idea that collects the myriad complexities of life.   An architect is an interesting individual.  They have not drawn a line in the sand.  They are neither artist nor engineer.  Instead they vacillate between the conflicting desires of pure beauty and pure logic.  An architect betrays his/her own desires.

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The Antipodes of Our Age

Hans Scharoun. Theatre. 1922-23. The Expressionist Theatre.

Walter Gropius. Total Theatre. 1927. The Rationalist Theatre.

“Architecture wrote the history of the epochs and gave them their name. Architecture depends on its time.  It is the crystallization of its inner structure, the slow unfolding of its form.” Mies Van Der Rohe

In the modern era, the emerging technology of steel glass and concrete, construction forged a new freedom.  Without the constraints of stone or masonry construction architects found themselves able to explore many new avenues not cumbered by traditions.  This came at a time when ideologies were also changing.  The new construction and the new ideology coincided to express a break with the past. This was the dawning of a new epoch.

So what new constraints emerged in the Modern epoch?  The violent birth of the modern era in Europe amid the rubble of the Great War was a blooming of creativity at a time when the economy was dry and people were broke (and broken for that matter).  The concept of rationality, of “Sachlichkeit” was the counter to the freedom proposed earlier by Expressionism.  Rationality justified architecture and cleansed it of unneeded bourgeois excess.  The new client and the new focus were on the middle class, not just the wealthy.  Even the bold wealthy of the time embraced Modernism for it’s apparent lack of pretense.

Erich Mendelsohn. Optical Products Factory. 1917.

Walter Gropius. Fagus Factory 1911.

Freedoms and constraints gave the Modern epoch a shape.  Arguably a new epoch is emerging.  To a degree we have new constraints and new freedoms.  The new freedom is in the technology of the computer, which allows us to create almost anything in our imagination.  Computers can be used to create components of construction more precise than ever.  At some point in the near future I can imagine computers basically printing out components of a building for construction like a puzzle.   We are not there yet; the computer is in the end just a tool helpful for the realization of ideas.  These same ideas could potentially have been created without the computer (Look at what Nervi did without a computer!).  One of the obsessions of our time is the organic manipulation of form (Mimesis of organic shapes, beautiful curves, or chaotic juxtapositions).  Now did this emerge because of the computer or independent of it? In the modern era Hugo Haring and Hans Scharoun were dealing with similar leanings as a counter to the mechanical rationalism of their time.  So the current wave of architectural form-making is not without precedent, but is helpfully realized by a technology that allows more precise expression of complicated form.  Before computers the drafter only had the compass and the French curve to realize complex shapes. These of course met with a certain degree of imprecision that the architect would have to accept.

So, computers are the new technology, but we are still using basically the same materials and methods for construction.  Steel, concrete, and glass are still the dominant materials used today.  Computers have not created new materiality; it has only enabled a potentially different approach to these materials.  Does this make for a new epoch?

The constraints of our time are as important to the shaping of our possible new epoch as available technology is . Sustainability and a consciousness towards more responsible design is quite clearly the counter to the freedom of our computer technology.  We can no longer build glass skyscrapers with no sunshades.  In the modern age the mitigation of the greenhouse effect in glass buildings was the increased use of air conditioning.  We are now aware that this is a gross waste of resources. We are also economically limited by this freedom. Energy costs are much more expensive so it is only beneficial that a responsible skin that responds to environment and energy efficiency should emerge. This energy efficient consciousness is expressed serendipitously in the materiality of sustainability.  Reused, recycled or responsibly sustainable materials are encouraged.  In the modern epoch materials were only constrained by cost and availability. Now they are limited by our conscience and acknowledgment that our resources are no longer infinite.

The constraint of sustainability is perhaps more decisive than the freedom of the computer in determining the shape of our possibly emerging new epoch in architecture. Time will tell if the computer take an increasingly dominant role in the concrete realization of buildings.  Inevitably, I believe it will.  Sustainability has already done this.

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