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Michael Badu

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Comments (6)

  • Comment on: Your views: AR reader responds to the Education Issue

    Michael Badu's comment 30 July, 2013 2:41 pm

    Thanks for your response to my response. Starting backwards, I don't think that differences in S.A.D and H.I.P as you've described them has any bearing at all. I think that a combination of experience and the particular constraints of any given project mean that these two methods are inevitably 'combined' by both projects. Both preconceoption, even prejudice, based on experience and the elements of the brief in hand are completely unavoidable.
    The 'closed loop' of the architect-builder solution does ndeed send me out of my comfort zone, but that would be a small problem if i was really viable. The aim here is quality remember. How will you achieve quality when the complexity of architectural design itself has increaed exponentially since the time of Nash and when the division of labour, brought about by the advent of the industrial revolution has become so complete (what you call for is essentially a reversal of this division of labour within the building industry). As an architect you'd have more on your plate than we do now. Better I think to maintain the essentially 'persuasive ethos' of the current system, whereby we have to convince the client, qs, builder and planning authority of the merits, cost effectiveness, buildability and 'rightness' of our work respectively. What we need to do as a profession is to concentrate on that which allows us to do this. This is where my '2 strands' of empirical knowledge come in. You are ight that a large proportion of architects necessarily know thw language of building, but remember I was talking about students with regards to this. Currently students do a lot of work that is essentially irrelevant to practice (other than that which would be carried out for illustration or promotional purposes). knowledge of the language or elements of building production gained while at university would make their speculative university work more relevant. Regards the knowledhe of 'other architects' work, I have met almost no architects who could display the kind of intimate knowledge of precedent demonstrated by Alvaro Siza during his RIBA Gold Medal lecture a few years ago in which he spoke witn intimate knowledge of FL Wright's NY Guggenheim; it's failures and successes. The building was a precedent for his design of the Ibere Carmargo Museum in Brazil. Most architects don't reach depth of consideration. Most of us find it difficult to get past copying images (note the multifarious 'children' Rafael Moneo's Murcia Town Hallproject has spawned). The second aspect of this type of knowledge, 0f what makes some designs more successful than others, is a working knolwedge of architectural history. This is really not taught in schools. What is taught, what is indoctrinated is an attitude; architect as progressive, as thinker, as genius. In engendering these attitudes some history is touched upon but nothing before 1920 usually, or it renaissance architecture is touched upon it is ususally through the prism of Rowe or Wittkower who are useful for writng books but next to useless for designing buildings. Learning to design buildings comes from seeing/experiencing how good buildings are designed not by reading some interesting things regarding seminal designs. Usually the architect emerges 'fully trained' but unable to speak authortitatively on his subject to a lay person, who may ask him/her about St Pauls cathedral or The National Gallery.
    Lastly, I would agree with you that the lack of virtue in the societal context in which the architect works is defnitely partly the fault of the architect, not becuase of the breaking of his/her code of conduct, but rather becuase of abdication of his/her reponsibility as a key expert in the working of the real built environments that real people live and work in. This abdication is entirely due to the architect's inadequate or even defective training.

  • Comment on: The Evolving Role of the Drawing

    Michael Badu's comment 23 May, 2013 12:50 pm

    Hmmm. 'The standardised plan and the mail order dwelling' as the 'ultimate product of the mass-market published review'. Excuse me?

    Also, 'machines with no minds' becoming machines with memories larger than ours.......but still with no mind, simply a large capacity for storing information like big filing cabinets in the sky. It's disengenuous to intimate that the development of electronic storage moves us in any way closer to the architectural equivalent of Deep Blue.

    Nice turns of phrase with only a surface connection to reality, and its the estrangement from reality that seems to constitute a thread running through all excited commentary on the importance of representation. Representation is absolutely crucial as is the need to analyse it and discuss it but we must never forget that the only reality for an architect is built reality. End of story. This is not a criticsm of the AR!

  • Comment on: Alvar Aalto (1898-1976)

    Michael Badu's comment 7 June, 2012 5:25 pm

    I'm glad that Harry Charington mentioned the fact that the importance of Aalto's wives has been almost entirely overlooked by history. I was at Aalto's old atelier in Helsinki late last year where some members of the foundation's research team are based. While leading the tour, the researcher pointed out that Aalto was actually pretty poor at detailing and solving practical issues, and relied heavily on (I think) Elissa's knowledge and skill in this area. Also, the conditions of the country itself have always been more conducive to the production of quality architecture than other European nations (particularly the UK). The industrialisation of Finland happened much more slowly in Finland than in other places (which helped the 'craft' based attitude to design) and the Fin's (indeed the whole of Scandanavia) seem to have administration down to a fine art. Even now, Helsinki reeks of a fine balance between urbanity, culture and pragmatism within which Aalto's office buildings (such as the one at Rautatalo) fit very naturally, and which I have never experienced in London, even with all it's great architecture. Did I mention that Aalto (like every famous architect) exploited students, and woe betide you if you were a foreigner working in his office!

    ' No man is an Island, even unto himself'!

  • Comment on: Swiss School in Grono by Raphael Zuber

    Michael Badu's comment 8 May, 2012 4:01 pm

    Love this. Presumably the 'Conzett' is none other than Swiss Engineer Jurg Conzett (noted for the ideal of 'structure as space)? Here's a question. Does this building actually have more to do with Old style expressionism (i.e Eric Mendelsohn) than Tendenza or Neo-Rationalism?

  • Comment on: The Big Rethink Part 3: Integral Theory

    Michael Badu's comment 14 March, 2012 10:15 am

    Just following on from the above two comments, Integral Theory does indeed seem an impressive and useful organisational system, but in attributing rationality to the West and Sprituality to the East, Buchanan is guilty of the same reductivism that he is railling against.

    In fact it should be common knowledge nowadays that 'zero' was invented in India and that European Rational Philosophical tradition owes a great deal to Eastern thinkers such as Ibn Rushd (Averroes) who was not only active quite a long time before Petrarch stood on a hill, but who managed to develop both hemispheres of his brain; the spiritual and rational aspects of his being, a very long time before Integral Theory. The Dominican priest, St Thomas Aquinas is but one example of a Western thinker who achieved exactly the same feat at around the same time.

    If there is one thing that the 'Big Rethink' should avoid it is the poltically motivated / influenced inaccurate hindsight that has caused so much suffering in modern society.

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