A well known metaphor to architects (of my age) is – Architecture is Frozen Music. Unfortunately, today’s music is half melted stuff and not easily possible to understand in a lyrical metaphor. But there have been other times (and other musicians and architects).
In the beginning of the 40-ties, Duke Ellington presented “Things Ain’t What They Used to Be” – the New Deal in US was working fine and the energy supply to people seemed forever unfailing.
Charlie Parker blow his “Now’s the Time” and that was new music, bebop called. Different from the swinging lullaby’s of the 1930-ies and preparing for a new musical era.
But, already in the 50-ies, Jule Styne composed the evergreen “The Party’s Over”, with some foresight and Frank Sinatra made it a hit. About the same time as the neo-liberalism was born – the economical regime we been living under since then.
The old musicians had a very good sense of the times! Now it is unfortunately a completely commercialized music industry that only provides “lullaby’s”. Mostly rapping and unbelievable nonsense! Latest hit being “I Wanna Be Rich” according to GabzFm polls.
Where are the Bob Marley’s and Fela Khuti’s of today? The likes of Ellington, Parker and Styne that could “freeze” music to everlasting comments on contemporary times? This leads to some questions:
· Where are the critical architects and town planners of today?
· Can we learn something and prepare ourselves to meet the future clients?
Well, we “innocent” people are inside a big glistering bubble of over-consumption and too spoilt to understand, it seems. We have seen small, hardly noticeable writings about it in our papers and media, but mostly it goes unnoticed. Why – well, papers and most media is owned by big corporations today and even small papers are depending on advertising.
Meaning that we should not read and understand real problems – just go on consuming – this is well known today. “Don’t Upset Advertisers” – DUA it is called by media pundits. Get your information from the ones that run the show! People should go on consuming over their salary limits on loans. So should countries and nations. Nations are now going bankrupted in an ever increasing degree. Band Aids are put on but, in fact, won’t help in the long run. Reason being that “help” is also loans! Often helped by tax money that is our money and this is what is used for bailing out the banks!
Most flashy cars we see are also on loans. Hundreds of insiders in the financial circus are saying – get rid of loans, quickly! Referring to nations and individuals all the same. Despite this, we are going on with the dance around the golden calf – it’s surreal!
Fortunately, for the time being, we have an “open” media – Internet. Some people have found a way of getting unbiased information from there. I recommend internet and use it for as long it is allowed to be “free”.
So where are we today in our developments?
Let’s see what the architects in our country propose, for a start.
What we see is a kind of Disneyland of many unconnected buildings, standing side by side as asking for a dance at some fancy dress party.
Most “designs” are cut out of some flush magazine where they were attributed by the modern architecture pundits to some kind of interesting -ism. So we have a bunch of imitations – a kaleidoscope of recent -isms with no relation whatsoever with each other. This is a laughing matter for genuine architects visiting this country – I remember Ralph Erskine’s visit in 1992! The small developments (by then) made him caution us for what’s coming if not regulated (by ourselves – the architects and town planners).
That’s only the aesthetics of it – a laughing matter! Let’s look at the sustainability of it in a less energy abundant world!
And that’s more serious – architects and town planners are the client’s confidents and responsible agents for the future of his building!
Now buildings are much more expensive than necessary, more energy consuming than necessary and not sustainable to a world of less abundance! I will pursue this issue next time.
Let’s look at that in the next column called “How Fast Are Things Falling Apart”, hopefully followed by “What Can We Learn From Our Predecessors”.
Jan Wareus 21/07/11
Lyrics for “The Party’s Over”
The party’s over
It’s time to call it a day
They’ve burst our pretty balloons and taken the moon away
It’s time to wind up the masquerade
Just make your mind up
The piper must be paid!
(Continuation > click HERE to read How fast are things falling apart)