Today, after a class discussion with David Leatherbarrow, I think I am closer to finding another piece of my personal philosophy on architecture.
Here I will try to articulate what I’ve learned. Know that I’m still in processing mode and thoughts will change, add, and grow on these issues. Many of these statements are quotes from David.
ARCHITECTURE NEEDS TO BE MORE GENEROUS. There I said it. It takes courage to give the heart of the ground floor, the heart of the building, over to the public. (Leatherbarrow)
In Architecture we want to articulate our individuality, rather than what we share. Is there any common ground? Leatherbarrow argues that sites are not given, but constructed. The architecture project you create reveals the site.
Urban architecture, Leatherbarrow argues, should share space. He uses the word proportion, as in share the right amount. Just like at dinner. You may not eat as much as the person next to you, because you don’t have to. Good design always involves a donation of space to the public. It’s a sacrifice that makes the city better.
He gives three examples of this “sacrificing space.”
Palladio’s Palazzo Cheiricati
ABI Building in Brazil
Tod Williams Billie Tsien’s Skirkanich Hall
Part of sacrificing space is thickening the edge. The limit of your project should not be a line but a space.
It is this act of gift-giving of space that develops the common ground.
In contrast, Thom Mayne’s recent Cooper Union Building does not engage the public realm. It does not sacrifice for the benefit of the city. If you clicked on the link with the building, I would have to say I do not agree with the critics remarks about engaging the public. It does not. No where to sit. Barely an overhang to be sheltered from the rain or sun.
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About city and society.
Richard Sennett’s The Fall of Public Man is an account of the modern attitude of our cities and space and how we interact with each other. I have not read it yet. Leatherbarrow warns us that it is pretty depressing, but we still need to read it. One way to look at cities is to see that all they are is circulation and police. We feel most comfortable at home. We have internalized the city. The car is the extension of the living room. Today, public does not equal shared, but unlimited access, accessibility.
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Is place a gradient then? If you set up the extremes:
Flow <- – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -> Place
(circulation, continuous space) (identity, regionalism, stability)
Many define the gradient as a blurred boundary. Leatherbarrow says it is not blurred. It is nuanced, exact, precise. There are structured, carefully constructed relationships that define space.
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To be continued…and revised. I just like that architecture needs to be more giving. More in relation to its surroundings to give itself a stronger identity, and to be a good neighbor.