As I’ve sent a contribution to the Design Observer on how knowledge must now follow the circuit(s) of fashion – an oblique call for architecture and design intelligence to direct its means of recognition towards production that addresses new global needs – I keep on seeing signs of a curious paradigm shift.
Is it only in the eyes of this beholder, is it just a post-catastrophic fad, or, as it shows in one go of Arch Daily’s posts, is the architecture that now matters as relevant cultural contribute popping up in the most unexpected of contexts?
After all the vain efforts of post-modernism to destroy those images of modernism that became academic norm, corporate fodder and the ultimate reflection of a golden eye of our fading ideals, reality presses on and forces modernism to adapt.
Rather, this is the time when the awareness of a tight global economy is starting to produce its benefits. The moment, perhaps, when the high costs of architecture start being seen as obscene – with stuff such as highly demanding regulations contributing to the unsustainable, cannibalistic feast.
And what a beautiful moment this is. Following Tad Toulis’ notion that ugly is taking our aesthetical perception by assault, this corrupted vision of Mies’ extenuated horizontality is the definitive homage to the modern master, and the one that again reencounters with the zeitgeist of its own instant.
As such, the exercise on shabbiness looks more like the provocative work of a bold artist than that of a group of architects. And yet, as architects childishly like to reclaim, all functional and contextual requirements are in place to justify both the spatial arrangement, the low-budget yet clever technical solution, and, last but not least, the historical appropriation of an ingrained disciplinary heritage.
Along their exquisite cultural operation, TAM have learned from Lot-ek and others’ earlier plays with shipping containers, and, as the work of Architecture for Humanity has the quality to suggest, they have already displaced their intelligence to a site that really needs it.
And this only makes them more like heavenly DJs that put everybody to dance by mixing old scratched records, and out of almost nothing create a vital party right in the midst of utter wilderness.
As this other little vila or a recent off-the-Ikea-shelf pavilion have proposed in different ways and totally different geographies, there is evidence that more than one paradigm shifts are indeed around the corner for current architecture.
However, as the Rural Studio first tried out, this is not only about low-budget seen as a creative drive, recycling taken as a motto, and means of popular mass-production used as an acceptable source for materiality.
It’s also about lo-fi as the new (aesth)ethics.