If They Don't Like It, Why Build It?

Architect Robert Adam likens modern architecture to modern democracy, where decisions made on high supposedly represent the will of the people.

"If the design professionals know best, what is it that they know that ordinary people don't? Everyone knows that buildings have to do a job. They're supposed to function, stand up and keep the water out. There's no mystery here. The big secret seems to be that buildings have to look as far away as possible from anything that might be described as traditional. With this in mind, the architectural establishment, architects advising planners and (frighteningly) an increasing number of planning officials themselves, do their level best to make sure that anyone who wants to make their buildings look traditional doesn't succeed. And if anyone does, they rubbish them.

And what's the justification for this? It's that if you're going to be 'of your time', 'or today' or 'for the future', you have to be very obviously different. This is, of course, nonsense. The future isn't fixed, it's what we want to make it. Being different is often billed as innovation – generally a good thing in an industrialised consumer society. But this muddles up innovation in industry, which is technical, with innovation in aesthetics, which is just taste."

Full Story: Manufacturing Consent



Robert Adam Design Replaces Avant-Gardist Design

From: http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/visual...

An eco-mansion designed by one of Britain’s best known classical architects is to replace a plan for a futuristic, starfish-shaped house that was never built.

Chester council last week gave final approval for Grafton New Hall, designed by Robert Adam and commissioned by a British-based businessman who plans to move with his family into the house just outside the city.
The previous design for the site was a low-lying building with pink, tentacle-like arms designed by the architect Kathryn Findlay. It won an award from the Royal Institute of British Architects in 2001, but never found a buyer.

“People just do not want to live in something that is alien-looking,” said Adam. “Surveys have shown that 85% of the British public want to live in traditional houses, which give a sense of continuity.”

Adam’s triumph is a setback for Labour’s attempted modernisation of country house architecture. In 2004 John Prescott, then deputy prime minister, restricted the building of large new country homes unless they were “cutting edge”.

At the time, Adam called the move “stylistic Stalinism”. Despite the new rules, almost no modernist mansions have been built, with patrons preferring traditional designs.

Charles Siegel

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