Architecture of the Absurd

4:21 PM


Don’t care much for architecture? I didn’t too. Until I learned that architecture is the type of art that concerns even those who proclaim to have no interest in art. After all, we all need houses, bridges, universities and so on. The ideal is that we have buildings that are both beautiful and fit for their purposes. We are getting neither, according to John Silber in his book Architecture of the Absurd.

This great book analyses the attempts of some architects to make their “genius” prevail over the clients’ needs, desires or budgets. Filled with illustrations and personal examples (the author was the President of Boston University and is a member of the American Institute of Architects) the book dares to question these delicate genius* who are making our cities so ugly and our lives less comfortable.

The author also invites us to look at these modern buildings with a challenging and critical eye. (It’s Ok not to like the Pyramid in front of the Louvre). He reassures us that we don’t need to accept what’s new and different (not to mention crazy and ugly) just because architects are bullying us to.

What do you think of modern architecture, such as the pyramid in Louvre’s courtyard?

* This is not my expression, nor the author’s. It’s George Constanza’s. I know he is referring to doctors, but I think it applies here too – not on George’s side who always pretended to be an architect.

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  1. My responses to architecture are very instinctive. I really don't know very much about different genres and eras of architecture, but I know what I like when I see it. So I like some modern architecture, and some I don't. I think a lot of hideous stuff went up around the 60s and 70s especially. In modern London, where I live, I love buildings such as the Gherkin, and the Shard, which is just being completed. Striking and surprisingly lovable. I really love taking pictures of buildings when I travel, even though I don't always understand what I'm seeing.

    1. I looked for the buildings you mentioned and they are quite different (though I think it would be better to see them live).

      It's very interesting this idea of architecture as producing instinctive responses. Probably all types of art do that, but with architecture we do need to feel comfortable with it. Sometimes a book or a painting make us feel uncomfortable and it's still a master piece and we still enjoyed it. But if we don't feel comfortable looking at a building every day, it's probably not such a good building after all. Thanks for stopping by!


Thanks for commenting! Do come back because I usually reply to comments here.

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