Bad religion(s)

20|04|09

religionsReligion in Train by lienhard.illustrator

Man is the religious animal. He is the only religious animal. He is the only animal that has the True Religion –- several of them. He is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself and cuts his throat, if his theology isn’t straight. He has made a graveyard of the globe in trying his honest best to smooth his brother’s path to happiness and heaven.

Marc Twain

via Freedom Island

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Francesco Borromini Rome S. Ivo della Sapienza interior-dome

Alternative title: The Age of Arrogance

Just came back from the ‘Ethics in Architecture: The Corbusian legacy‘ at the Barbican Hall. Just a few notes/bits and pieces  from what was said (apologies if what I write does not match exactly the words of the speakers, I will try to find some audio/video material soon):

Cameron Sinclair: “Ethics is aesthetics.”/”Asking from Zaha Hadid to talk about ethics in architecture is like asking from Robert Mugabe to talk about human rights.”

Winy Maas: “I’d love to live in a manifest!”

Charles Jencks: “I like the multiplicity of positions we have today, you didn’t have that with modernism.”/”Koolhaas morphing to Herzog morphing to Zidane: all unhappy men.”

Sean Griffiths: “Then again, arrogance is not necessarily a bad thing.” (Think Borromini.)

The Zaha Hadid understudy, Fabian Hecker wore a nice suit.

Yeah, “no conclusion was reached” but I could visualize Jencks and Maas engaging on this endless discussion on whether architecture is a political act while sitting on an active volcano. Move people move!

And thanks Cameron. If only for being there and for showing actual architecture work.

And an excellent article here: The Architect’s Dilemma: The Architecture of Excess vs. an Architecture of Relevance

puccini

Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924)

An update: Apparently, websites and the press responded quickly to Sinclair’s polemic language so you can find an analytical review of the debate via Treehugger: Cameron Sinclair Lights Fuse Under Zaha Hadid Architects at The Barbican Debate.

The article ends with the question:

Why Fabian Hecker couldn’t have defended his office with the ‘Bilbao effect’ argument and the role that iconic architecture has to play in city regeneration I don’t know.

For some reason I still have on mind not only the Age of Stupid archivist’s musing at the end of the film:

Maybe we weren’t sure if we were worth saving?

but also the Red Army Colonel Kotov, the Stalin-like moustached hero of National Theatre’s recent production Burnt by the Sun, asking his ex-bourgeois in-laws who sip their tea reminiscent of their pre-revolution times of easy living, Puccini and biscuits:

If this life meant so much to you, why didn’t you do anything to defend it?

So God save the Borrominis and Puccinis and Hadids of this world, if only because they cannot defend themselves. And God save tea and biscuits too. After all, isn’t this the life that the young doctor from Nigeria in the Age of Stupid again is aspiring to? Isn’t this what keeps her going during her daily fight for clean water in her village facing the impacts of the climate change that the starchitects and politicians of this world have been blissfully ignoring for so long?

More dialogue here.

A must-watch. So yeah, it didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know, but it will hopefully help some people out there join the dots. I am going to spam a few of my friends now, with the hope that the next time we meet up they will stop going on about how cheap the plane tickets they’ve just booked with SleazyJet, CrapAir and the like were.

And an excellent very social media-savvy campaign/website, too: The Age of Stupid

portada-tolo-house-sizacroquis-tolo-house-siza

I think that from this crisis will emerge another moment. An architecture that is essential and not reliant on things that are not needed.

Alvaro Siza, RIBA Gold Medal Award 2009

tolo-house-siza

Image credits: archidose, archdaily

Note to self…

06|04|09

wyeth-winter-1946

Andrew Wyeth, Winter, 1946
Tempera on board
31 3/8 x 48 in (79.7 x 121.9 cm)
North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh

…and the future historian of the web-based human communication: I consciously entered the 2.0 era of  absorbing information when I realized I could no longer stand reading a piece of text [be it a Guardian opinion column or a Pitchfork review] without scrolling down the page looking for disagreeing comments. And when these are missing, I would spend hours googling the article title only to find opposing views expressed in forums or blogs or some other remote corner of the web.

[I still despise wikis though.]

cctv_oma

Image credits: Fleaheart

I could not resist to post Rem Koolhaas’s tweet (@remkoolhaas):

It’s as if we need the reassurance of Dubai’s demise to restore our own confidence.

And following this, Cameron Sinclair’s comment (@casinclair):

I’m sorry Rem but Dubai’s demise should spell the end of an era of form follows fevered ego. Now is time for an architecture of relevance. As far as Dubai is concerned perhaps it is an opportunity to enact fairer and more humane working practices for those working in the construction industry and to find an architecture of the place not one imposed on it. Zero carbon does not equal zero guilt.

Good times. And to receive this on your live news feed… Good times indeed…


Climate crunch

02|04|09

and_then_what_happened

Image credits: Have Some Hats

Workload and a flu kept me away from ‘the streets’ unfortunately. But I’m enormously happy to find out that people around me are so deeply frustrated with the way ‘the system’ works/is failing. And what’s more, the word ‘ecological’ precedes the word ‘financial’ before ‘crisis’ in many of the articles I’ve been reading since yesterday.

Mat Meggary talks about yesterday’s Climate Camp [source: Red Pepper]

Is the financial crisis good for the climate?

In terms of changes to investments and output, to various climate friendly and not so climate friendly projects, its a bit of a mixed bag. But that’s not really the point. The financial crisis could be an opportunity for renewal. For making the changes we need to tackle climate change and finally bringing some sense of equity to the world. But we can’t just hope for change and we shouldn’t rejoice in something that’s bringing ever more suffering to millions in the here and now. For the crisis to really be good for the climate, we need to use it to expose the inherent contradictions in the financial system and empower people to imagine something new. The crisis certainly exposes the insanities of carbon trading to a whole new level.

More on the Climate Crunch and the inherent failures of carbon trading schemes here.