The single greatest misconception in architecture is the idea that we build in three dimensions, when in fact we build in four. And any architect who deems to neglect that fourth dimension—time—does so at his own peril.
|Try as one might, it's hard to find a more shopworn|
example of Modernism than Corbusier's
Palace of the Assembly in Chandigarh, India.
The modernists of the twentieth century are already infamous for this oversight, to the detriment of their legacies. Many of our most celebrated modernist works--Mies’s Scharoun Residence, Corbusier’s Villa Savoye, Gropius’s Bauhaus buildings--would be in a sorry state indeed if not for the constant and fastidious curation they now receive. Even so, they remain most impressive when seen in the handful of historical photographs that first wowed the world eighty-odd years ago. It’s these old images, not the pampered works themselves, that remain the most compelling argument for Modernism’s perfectionist aesthetic.
|Among the pinnacles of Postmodernism,|
the Best Products showrooms—there were once
many—provided belly laughs, but no lasting
architectural lessons. This one stood in Houston.
|Addison Mizner's Spanish Revival work in |
Palm Beach, Florida, built almost
ninety years ago, has survived beautifully.
Mizner understood the fourth dimension.
Alas, the International Style modernists weren’t the only architects oblivious to the fourth dimension. In their consuming search for irony, the Postmodernists used intentionally diagrammatic design, chintzy materials, and pointedly tawdry detailing. The greater irony is that in doing so, most managed to seal their own dooms as far as timeless building was concerned. A glance at the numerous moldering Postmodernist works in cities large and small will quickly confirm this fact.
Architects of the last two decades have made many of the same errors, though by a different route: they built substantially and expensively, but used a palette of demanding finishes--highly polished metals and stone, complex paint schemes, acres of plate glass--that make their works both costly to maintain and highly susceptible to the indignities of daily use.
|We'll see how green design stands the test of time.|
Demonstration green home, Bornholm, Denmark.
(Copyright Kristoffer Tejlgaard and Benny Jepson,