You are commenting using your WordPress. In order to remove all aspects politicz historical preference having indication of any future theoretical propositions, Zeara-Polo utilises a simplistic architectural element of design and the built element: A Political Critique of Materialism. The envelope exceeds the surface by incorporating a much wider set of attachments. At a time when energy and security concerns have replaced politucs earlier focus on circulation and flow as the contents of architectural expression, the building envelope becomes a key poolitics subject. The image of the rave, a collective environment capable of mobilizing crowds of people into a single rhythm appears to be a perfect incarnation of associative democracy as a coexistence of heterogeneous populations and informal associations. However, the envellpe and experiential dominates contemporary discourse while at the same time denigrating any forms of knowledge that have a hint of objectivity.
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This is not to say that the subjective aspects of both designing and experience of designed things is not important. However, the subjective and experiential dominates contemporary discourse while at the same time denigrating any forms of knowledge that have a hint of objectivity.
In architectural design this has led to a lack of interest in form along with a decreasing lack of skill in manipulating physical and spatial form. While this sounds like yet another reductive formalist categorisation of architecture the precision with which he outlines the implications of each make the socio-political content of these forms very evident. For example, the flat horizontal slab think airport, mall, warehouse shed, etc.
On the other hand the form is adept at allow for flows of people and objects in a flexible and fluid manner which is critical for the functioning of certain program types.
This can be contrasted with the other types which have varying degrees of roof exposure, footprint areas or overall surface area. Interestingly Polo finds possible explanations for the proliferation of certain types bubbles and blobs in a mixture of technological, symbolic and security concerns. Flat low slabs create vast perimeters which may create security issues which tower forms can more easily control and police their entry points and perimeter. Blobs and spheres contain a positive ratio of interior space versus exterior surface area and thus provide advantages in minimising the use of resources heating, cooling, and ventilating.
Because the variety of affects exist in many spheres technical, cultural, constructional, experiential the choice of the basic form type is not an easy one. What Polo makes us aware of is that that choice is not just about architectural effect, construction or tectonics but that we are also determining more difficult conditions and issues.
What is fascinating and important about this essay is that reminds us that form is significant and not something to be ignored or left to chance. It offers another way of thinking about architecture — or more precisely, it reminds us about forgotten ways of thinking about it — that do not treat the architectural product as merely an outcome of a process, of context or a set of forces.
In many cases we can decide the basic form and if we are informed about the political and social implications of form we can take these decisions more carefully and consciously rather than leaving them up to chance, fashion or the computer. Finally, I think that it is important that this essay was written by Polo, founder of Foreign Office Architects, a practice that is known for its experimental, challenging and inventive architecture.
Form is there, whether traditional or avant-garde and when we ignore it we deny one of the few things of which we are truly meant to be specialists in. That is, it is roughly as high as it is wide and long. Cubes, spheres, and anything in between all produce the effects and possess the conditions that Polo describes. Link to essay: here Related This entry was posted in Essays , Readings and tagged architecture , design , form , politics , social , theory.
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ALEJANDRO ZAERA POLO POLITICS OF THE ENVELOPE PDF