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Sunday, 16 February 2014

Today, new buildings often disappoint us:

Today, new buildings often disappoint us:
they are not so perfect as the CAD images which we have seen of them,

Sent directly to a factory where a manufacturer can cut the shape immediately from the architect’s pattern-drawing. This replicates in part some of the methods of Renaissance architects in which the only drawings, which existed for fabrication, were the Modano.
Most contemporary architects use CAD to either show perspective views of space or to make forms autonomous from hand-work and the tactile qualities of drawing which connect us immediately to the hapticity of spatial experience.
Today, new buildings often disappoint us: they are not so perfect as the CAD images which we have seen of them, people and weather intrude in reality and mar the effects of the architect’s dream-like visualization of virtual light and dislocated atopia.
 Like Leonardo’s anatomy drawings, modern buildings are often arid and enervating spaces, lacking material depth; all the shiny surfaces and brittle reflections miscast us as intruders in the private fantasies of the designer; we flicker there like ghosts.
 The relationship between lived experience and its supposed opposite, the objective view point, can be seen clearly not only in the god-like view of an aerial perspective but in the architecture which comes from these images.
Can we see in modern techniques of drawing a clue to the same immateriality of the spaces? Certainly, the example of Michelangelo suggests not only that what and how you draw something affects what you draw, but also what you think and perhaps, more importantly,how you think.
This is clear in the resulting material quality of spaces and clearly shown in the design drawings.
 I suggest that the essential difference between the work of contemporary architects such as Norman Foster and Frank Gehry, and Michelangelo, is the exact ontological significance of matter and form and their relationship made possible in drawing and modelling and other modes of description.
See Robert Harbison, Reflections on Baroque, Reaktion, 2001, for an attempt to argue that contemporary architects such as Coop Himmelblau and Gehry are ‘neobaroque’
and not simply drawing meaningless shapes; and also the writres  refutation of Harbison in his
review of this book in Building Design 09/03/01.