blowing bubbles


2.0, the next level

Mies van der Rohe, Rem Koolhaas and Santiago Calatrava

In that order films about these three architects were shown at the Jasmax Film Festival ’06 – Celebrating Architecture, here in Wellington.

ChicagoMies van der Rohe’s work left me feeling somewhat bitter at the sterility and detachedness he implanted into society. It would have been nice if not everyone had started imitating with varying degrees of success his totally functional and “humble” approach. Too much of this and you get, well, this:

Playtime (Jacques Tati)It’s the stuff that makes Monsieur Hulot flip out. God is not only in the details.

The film about Rem Koolhaas’ meanderings through Lagos offered an amazing if somewhat short view on the almost uncontrolled and explosive evolution of the city over the course of 4 years (1998-2002). One notable anecdote was that some market vendors had built their own little prison for detaining local criminals. No need for police and interviewed people seemed quite happy about this. Opportunity moves in mysterious ways.

No real conclusions were illustrated by the filmmaker however, which left some people wondering if Koolhaas and his students had actually reached them or if they had all been lost/negated during the intensity of the trip. I guess we’ll have to wait and see. Godspeed, Mr. Koolhaas.

Interior Milwaukee Art MuseumLooking at Lake Michigan out of the 'prow' of the Calatrava addition to the Milwaukee Art MuseumWhich leaves me Santiago Calatrava’s work to bombinate about. And oh boy words fail me. All I can say is that if you like the pictures you see on the right and you haven’t yet experienced his work, then go and check it out. I’ve had the fortune of visiting two of his creations, the Gare do Oriente train station in Lisbon and Trinity Bridge in Manchester. Great moments.

Cet homme a plusieurs cordes à son arc!

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Category: visual stimuli


6 Responses

  1. Giles says:

    I don’t agree with those comments about Mies. There was a division in modernism that was mediated by WW2. Mies represents humane modernism, his buildings are elegant, transparent & value human craftsmanship as you can see in the details of his work. The Brutalism instigated by Corbusier is more responsible for the alienating quality of much Urbanism. IMO because the importance of scale/space was sublimated to extreme economic rationalisations & the absence of the human mark which modernists like Mies or Loos never lost sight of. Fortunately those values were reinstated by Eames, Koolhas & Neutelings.

  2. Giles says:

    By the way Tati’s satire was directed at Brutalism & Corbusier not Mies who produced little domestic architecture.

  3. pea says:

    Thanks for the great insight, Giles. In the new light it sheds I’ve come to review my statement. Although I still feel that many people have poorly imitated Mies’ work, losing touch with craftmanship.

    I’ve had the fortune of visiting the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin, a building by van der Rohe. It does indeed breathe elegance in a way I’ve not experienced in many other buildings.

    Now I’m wondering if I should edit my original text. First I’ll read up about Brutalism and the other things you mentioned. Thanks again.

  4. I live in a Mies, at 880 N. Lake Shore Drive. It is uplifting, spiritual, poetic, responsible, and beyond. The comments of Giles are wise.

    All best to you,
    -Edward Lifson

  5. I live in Milwaukee and the Calatrava Art Museum is certainly the pride of the city. Watching the wings rise is staggering and viewing the lake from the inside is breath taking. If you’re ever in Milwaukee to view it, I’ll lend you my couch for the night.

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