July 10, 2020

Why it’s hard to take modern architecture seriously

Shortly after the Notre-Dame de Paris fire in 2019, according to Architectural Digest, “Prime Minister Édouard Philippe announced a competition for fresh ideas for the cathedral, and designers rushed to create original renderings and post them to Instagram. They range from the tasteful and restrained, to the borderline inscrutable, to social experiments never intended to be built.”

But how can you tell the difference, especially when some unserious interventions are justified as intended to ‘start a conversation’?  (A justification used so much these days – as though the ‘conversation’ was the purpose, not the process.)

Here are four of the seven that AD found on Instagram, all from practicing architects:

After all the conversation, the decision, announced a few days ago, was this:

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  1. I don’t know about the first and last one but the middle one’s been done before:


  2. All new architecture is suspect. Our contemporary tastes are not to be trusted and historians are right to mock our provincial tastes. The moderne Paris Metro stations we revere today were roundly despised when they were first built. Queen Annes were the height of gauche during their time but try getting your hands on one today. The same reverence will one day be bestowed on False Creek’s ubiquitous green glass condos and Langley ‘just add water’ subdivisions.

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