Why We Shouldn't Let Architects Shape Our Cities

In an essay for <em>The Guardian</em>, Jonathan Meades laments the "cult" of architecture and argues why "[a]ppointing architects to conceive places is like appointing foxes to advise on chicken security."
September 19, 2012, 8am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
Share Tweet LinkedIn Email Comments

In an all-out assault on Architecture, Meades rails on everything from the profession's "smugly hermetic milieu" and "mutual dependence," to "architects' lack of empathy." His main complaint seems to be with the general inability of architects to create places, and the perpetual need to obliterate the "layers of urban archaeology," that Meades cherishes, in the drive to find the next "non-place where derivative architecture can gloriously propagate itself with impunity."

While Meades mentions a few select projects for praise, including Ledoux's Arc-et-Senans and Le Corbusier's l'Unité d'Habitation, "[t]hey are the exceptions to the rule that planned towns, tied towns, new towns, garden cities, garden villages, communist utopias, national socialist utopias, socialist utopias, one-nation utopias, comprehensive developments and wholesale regenerations that lurch between the mediocre and the disastrous."

"It doesn't matter what idiom is essayed," continues Meades, "it is the business of attempting to create places that defeats architects. Architects cannot devise analogues for what has developed over centuries, for generation upon generation of amendments. They cannot understand the appeal of untidiness and randomness, and even if they could they wouldn't know how to replicate it."

Full Story:
Published on Tuesday, September 18, 2012 in The Guardian
Share Tweet LinkedIn Email