Ornamental Crimes. Adolf Loos
declared that ornament was a crime, and over fifty years passed before somebody said the
opposite. Whom dared to do so, Robert Venturi, was not really replying to the Viennese,
but questioning the categorical and still popular less is more of Mies van der
Rohe. The deep-rooted functionalist creed of the Modern Movement, not too inclined toward
the accessory, has been the principal cause of the extended discredit of the decorative,
whose value is rediscovered today from various angles.
Juan José Lahuerta
Templates. The brick that clads the facades of the
house recalls, as some other of its elements, a construction ruled by codes; the
sophisticated skin of the company headquarters moves between the tribute to craftwork
procedures and technological exhibition; and the geometric motif that gives an appearance
to the garden pavilion solves at once structure, cladding and ornament.
Brick House, Aggstall
Allmann, Sattler & Wappner
Serpentine Pavilion, London
|Colors. Behind the concrete grid that wraps
the student residence, polychrome gusts enhance the perception of its imposing volume;
through the vibrant mondrianesque mosaic of the curtain wall, the office building stands
out among old port sheds; and on top of the irregular section of the industrial
establisment, an aluminum sheet tapestry in three colors unifies production hall and
Simmons Hall, Cambridge, Ma
Colorium Tower, Düsseldorf
Sauerbruch & Hutton
Experimental Factory, Magdeburg
|Views and Reviews
||Art / Culture
|Visionary Languages. The Reina Sofía museum recreates two episodes of the 20th century avant-garde: the concrete current of Swiss art between the twenties and fifties; and Russian graphic design between 1910 and 1934.||Anatxu Zabalbeascoa
The Russian Avant-Garde Book
|From Treatise to Catalogue. Facsimile
editions and translations serve to recover old jewels of treatise writing; and most of the
monographs on contemporary authors take the cumulative format of the catalogue.
|To close, the recent inauguration ceremony of the new president of Brazil, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, prompts to think about the symbolic content of the monuments of Brasilia, a paradigm of the modern city. As backdrops for a democratic celebration, the Monumental Axis and the Three Powers Square recover the original sense of the project by Lucio Costa and Óscar Niemeyer.||Products
Red Dawn in Brasilia
Ornament plays a role that is not very different from that of hypocrisy or diplomatic protocol, urbanity or precaution in social intercourse, the cosmetics or the theater of encounter. Dissolving geometric force with rhythmic or conventional patterns, alleviating the offensive bareness of surfaces with textures and tremors, and illuminating the rigorist grisaille or the expeditive white with a chromatic tempest, architecture conceals its rough frankness, softens its rotund profile with a carnival dress, and finds in the gift of inebriation the kind tolerance with the truth of the other. This transit from a demanding Apollo to an exalted Dionysus is a risky path, forcing the architect to sin against reductive taste and to break the rules of stylistic anorexia; but it is also a road to sensory freedom which allows to move from intelligence to emotion, from abstract order to figurative fascination, from Doric modernity to Corinthian postmodernity.
It will be said that ornament is accessory, and this cannot be denied; but in the libidinal economy nothing is more essential than the superfluous. It will be said that ornament is superficial, and again this will have to be admitted; but in the geography of seduction nothing is deeper than the skin. And it will be said that ornament is ephemeral, and one more time this will need to be acknowledged; but in the history of perception nothing lasts longer than fleeting motifs, tenacious inhabitants of circular time. The degenerate architecture of ornament needs not apologize for its guilty beauty; that entartete Bau is not a crime, but a disorder: a figure embarrassedly attired for minimalist moderation, but dressed to kill in a feminine way, combining suggestiveness and attraction; on the opposite end to the masculine dressed to kill, unfortunately too literal in those expeditionary troops to the Gulf that these days colonize screens and gazes, and before which our mild ornamental disorders fade away.