9 Nov 2012
This is one of the differences between conservatives and progressives. The conservative seeks to conserve that which is good; the progressive, to replace it with anything that might work (let's find out later). In France, as elsewhere in Europe, there are two millennia of trial and error, failure rejected and success conserved. The first few gothic cathedrals fell down (as did the first few pyramids). When the Egyptians figured out the best slope angle, and when the Medieval architects (largely French) figured out things like flying buttresses, they kept using them and built ever upward.
But still, France progressed ever onward, and brought us Corbusier and Georges Candilis (a protege of Corbusier), and the "machines for living".
More than a few (like Hayek) consider the Planner as one of the more dangerous types.
"I am not in favour of the guillotine except prophylactically for modern French architects. "
I would add to that, modern French philosophers.
PS: There's an article from 'leParisien.fr", July 2011, on "The city of Etoile fear of oblivion" (translated, roughly, by Google).
11 Nov 2012
g murphy donovan
French contemporary art is like European football, where most of the interesting action takes place in the bleachers among the spectators. And among those, difference is a blood sport. A culture that must be segregated by razor wire, so that the aficionados will not kill for "nil/nil," probably doesn't have much of a future anyway.
12 Nov 2012
Michael W. Perry
Your marvelous article prompted me to ask if, in Seattle where I live, any new architecture exists that's better than that found in some of the better parts of Paris.
I drew a blank. Half is awful, including my neighborhood's new fire station, an ugly, outsized Bauhaus box that replaced a fifties-era modest brick structure that fit our neighborhood far better. The other half is merely adequate, neither ugly nor attractive. It doesn't blight the landscape. It merely makes it a bit more boring.
Over the centuries, humanity has created a wide variety of beautiful architecture. Have we exhausted all the possibilities for beautiful buildings? I don't think so. But we're certainly not turning out architects who understand how to create something beautiful. That's odd.
19 Dec 2012
Dear Mr. Dalrymple,
I am currently working as a designer in the field of Architecture, and have, for the last four years or so, greatly enjoyed your articles and especially your commentary on architecture. My education consisted primarily of being told that concrete boxes were the new principal mode of architecturural construction. I never, strictly speaking, agreed with this assessment. It was always apparent to me that pre-industrial architecture possesed a definite humanity essentially lacking in modern archicture. And while, as a trained architect, I can enjoy the cleverness with which Le Corbusier might have formally composed his buildings, the end result was never designed for the flourshing of actual human beings. It had always seemd that, for the modern architect, human enrichment was incidental, and not intrinsic, to formal plan victories. There are no modern spaces, either, to rival in terms of splendor the spaces found in Europe's basilicas and cathedrals.
I find myself agreeing quite fundementally with your articles, but wonder, as an architect to be, whether or not my future is rather bleak. Whom in contemporary architecture is to be our guide? If so much modern architecture is bad, who should we turn to for a modern standard? How can we make architecture better for people? These are questions I am grappling with personally, and I have some of my own ideas, but I would very much like to hear your thoughts on the matter. How do we practice a grand new architecture without simply repiclicating past buiding typologies?
Perhaps if the New English Review would be so kind, they could forward my question to you directly.