Monday, May 11, 2009

Housing for poor

The suggestion that architects should improve their lot by engaging in everyday aspects of people’s lives is a bit daunting. Taken to the extreme, it reminded me of Loos’ short text, The poor rich man, where an architect not only designs a house for his client but goes as far as designing every detail of the Rich Man's home; he anticipated everything, even the pattern on his slippers. One day, the Poor Rich Man's family offered him birthday presents, but the architect, summoned to find correct places for them in his composition, was furious that a client had dared to accept presents about which he, the architect, had not been consulted. For the house was altogether finished, as was his client: he was complete. This holistic design of an environment might be some architects dream, but it usually becomes other people’s nightmares. Accidents and incidents are essential for real life. Architects design spaces for people to live in, not only for magazine to take pictures of and for developers to market them. The debate is a bit more interesting, I hope. Cities tend to become attraction parks for architects to “perform” and developers to show their protege. The strength of an architect is to do "good" buildings using and playing with the existing context rather than try to create a stand-alone object to look at within an ideal sterilised site.

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