|The Faculty Glade at UC Berkeley, and the famous bollards:|
Now, how did those kids get up there?
Exasperated, the landscape architects finally resolved to install a set of bollards draped with heavy chains to block the mouth of each shortcut, probably chuckling evilly to themselves the whole time. When the imposing barriers were completed, the students nonchalantly jumped over them and continued on their way as before.
|Le Corbusier's Pessac housing estate as designed in 1925:|
People filling his apartments with antique armoires
and wrought-iron chandeliers drove the architect crazy.
And if he thought that was bad...
In any case, a truly humane built environment should be able to absorb such trifling deviations from intended use. One problem with Modern architecture was that many of its proponents simply couldn’t live with this idea. They perceived their buildings as pristine works of art frozen in time and space, ones in which human occupants often seemed little more than a necessary annoyance.
|...here's the Pessac housing estate today, |
with various modifications made by residents
desperate to make it feel more homey.
The legendary Mies van der Rohe was equally put out when he noticed that the occupants of one of his tony highrises all had their window shades set at different heights, ruining the gridded perfection of the building’s glass exterior. He decreed that henceforth, the shades would be adjusted to one of four standard positions, and just to make sure, he had stops installed on all the windows.
|Mies van der Rohe's Lake Shore Apartments in Chicago,|
circa 1948. Note the window shades, which are all
in one of the four positions approved by the architect.
We architects, and perhaps people in general, need to let go of our incessant mania for controlling the world around us, and learn to make peace with the uncontrollable. For no matter how carefully we may plan, there will always be some unexpected quirks that surprise us. Still, we ought to rest assured that things will work out in spite of them, and maybe even because of them. Apparently, even Le Corbusier eventually came to this conclusion when he observed:
"You know, it is always life that is right and the architect who is wrong."