Friday, June 13, 2014

Austerity in Architecture

[Update]  The feng-shui dimension:

[Below, the original post from Feb 2012]

We have written little minimal bits  about the matter of Minimalism (in mathematics, in physics, in explanation generally).

This morning’s NYTimes has an excellent article on Architectural Minimalism, by Thomas de Monchaux:

Note:  I myself know almost nothing about architecture,  but you might be interested in the discussion of the London “Lloyd’s building”, in the context of a conjectural Aesthetic Realism  (a side-dish to our usual fare of Mathematical Realism or Platonism), towards the end of the following essay:

For a similarly minimalist thriller,
austere in that (for very good reasons)
the perpetrator is never explicitly named,
Murphy Calls-in a Specialist
Available for Kindle or Nook


[Update 27 II 12]  Dunno whether this is Minimalism or Maximalism -- it sort of looks like Minimalism inflated with a bicycle pump:

Like I say -- I know nothing about architecture, but I know what I don't like.
Great design for a Stalinist prison, though.

[Later update]
Whoops -- and here's a different view:
This one I like, assuming that all those niches are intended as hidey-holes for hamsters.


Some intra-architecural terminology for a related idea:

Against the Art Nouveau, the frivolous ornament, the useless decoration, the sentimental object, the Bauhaus raised the banner of functionalism.  The arched baroque and the involuted rococo  were replaced by stark geometrical planes and the unadorned curtain wall.
-- Daniel Bell,  The End of Ideology (1962, rev. ed. 1965, 1988), p. 243


[Update April 2015]   The emblems of archictural austerity  are not mere primitivism -- barrows, henges, Easter Island and the like -- but cases in which the builders could well have piled it on, but refrained, restrained.
Primus inter pares are the monuments of ancient Greece:   the Parthenon, the Temple at Delphi.  Bare stark pillars,  stoically standing stones, bleached by the aeons.
Yet these are what we have made of them:  they did not issue quite thus from their matrix.  A historian reminds us:

We forget that these temples were once painted in lively colors  and decorated with gold leaf,  in something like Oriental luxuriance.  We forget the huge statues of the gods that were crowded into them, and about them, in utter disregard  of harmony and proportion.  We forget the astonishing clutter of slabs, statues, and monuments  that filled the Acropolis -- a hodge-podge that makes Radio City seem a model of architectural restraint.
-- Herbert Muller, The Uses of the Past (1952)

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