How do new globalised architectures fit into the street-scape?
Language in human speech is the structural form acting to format human thought. In the same way, the language of a building is the form-al manifestation of the culture and social phenomena that made it happen. Traditionally this is reflected in the facade of a building. In this sense, I am very interested to see the street-scape context in which the two interventions sit, in the photos below. (Thank you Sasha for referencing me this text) Alejandro Zaera Polo says that ‘globalisation has neutralised [the] language [of buildings]’ and I think that Park house on Oxford Street is a great example of this. It seems abandoned by language. Reflecting the volume of Selfridges across the road and promising to regenerate the area, it is built around concepts that do not relate to architecture or the city. If any language at all, it speaks the language of globalised commerce, but not at the level of the city. It’s funny that it looks like a capsule – since that is precisely its specification – as long as it is new [regeneration] and of a certain volume [commercial value and status] it has fulfilled its brief.
My idea is that when land parcels become available in London they are set aside into the cultural preservation reserve of the city. The idea however is not to simply put the land aside but to transform it through the act of pouring it in with concrete. I loved hearing about the effort it took to create the void for the swimming pool in the Boros collection. This is what inspired me to use concrete for these cultural sites.
I want to highlight the duality in my decision to intervene with concrete. From one perspective pouring the land with concrete is like putting it in a vault. Yet from another it is an architectural intervention in itself. The concrete sites will become enriched by the culture around them. Not because they are programme-less, but because they are programmed to be interpreted.
Speaking of anonymous volumes undergoing a process of transformation, I like this example on Marylebone High Street. I like how from one perspective it has clipped off a section of the street facades, discontinuing that ‘language’ that I mentioned. From another it is a structure that allows the transformation of the site it encloses. It allows people to contribute to the transformation of the site. From another perspective, when one notices how the top of the scaffolding cube is just higher then the roofline of adjacent buildings, one immediately imagines that it encases a similar building, rather then just being a volume of scaffolding. I like how noticing this brings to mind the playfulness of SANAA’s New Museum in NYC. I also like that realising that this is scaffolding – a structure of process – implies the idea of contribution of society & work to the site. The site becomes enriched by the labour put into it. Even though that any transformation/outcome is entirely hidden, it still stands out as something ‘contributed to’, the cultural ‘enrichment’ is projected towards an imaged point of final completion.
So in this sense the volume does speak to the street-scape, symbolically. What can the architectural language be? Do I claim the block as a single architectural expression in itself (that is the same across all sites I choose in London)? Does the language become adaptable along with the adaptation of the meaning of the block?
In the spirit of running adjacent processes of work at the same time and letting them inspire each other (thanks to that video by Adam Furman, Anny!), I want to move on and do some experimental pieces of work tomorrow that I hope will interestingly carry on the ideas brought up in this post.
I hope these thoughts bring up a discussion and comments are welcome!