Rejecting Flashy Forms, New Architecture Embraces the 'Boring'

Christopher Hawthrone discusses the rise of a "quiet style" in architecture that returns to basic shapes and resists the urge to look futuristic.

1 minute read

November 25, 2017, 1:00 PM PST

By Philip Rojc @PhilipRojc


Swiss National Museum

Detail from Christ & Gantenbein's extension to the Swiss National Museum | Samuel Zeller / Wikimedia Commons

On what he calls "the most important emerging strain in contemporary architecture," Christopher Hawthrone writes, "This is an approach that rejects the hyperactive form-making of celebrated architects like Thom Mayne [...], Daniel Libeskind, the late Zaha Hadid and others in favor of work that is spare, solid and unhurried."

The emerging style, typified by the work of architects like Chile's Mauricio Pezo and Sofía von Ellrichshausen, Portugal’s Aires Mateus, and the Swiss firms Christ & Gantenbein and Office Kersten Geers David Van Severen, embraces a quiet solidity. Hawthrone writes, "there's something archetypal about this architecture. [...] It’s post-digital, which means it rejects the compulsion to push form-making to its absolute limits that overtook architecture at the turn of the century. As a result, it sometimes looks ancient or even primordial. It never looks futuristic."

Hawthorne concludes with a word of praise for the "boring" style. "I for one think architects should embrace the boring charge. [...] the spirit of this new work, its power, comes in part from what it's reacting to — the overloud, overwrought, mostly male voices it has already managed to mute."

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