Thursday, March 09, 2006

Hourglass Architecture

corbusier at Architecture and Morality posts an essay on the "visual boredom of college campus'" that at least tangentally applies to New Orleans and its rebuilding process.

Yet the mere fact that it is all ‘beautiful’ still leaves out an important aspect that is vital for me to make a place enjoyable to be in—something I would call ‘possessing interest’. What is meant here is that I desire an environment to offer something unexpected, fascinating, ironic, embodying subtle tension. The liveliest urban environments in the city downtowns contain this in droves, in which each street, alley, and building reveals itself in unexpected ways. In such dynamic places, unlike buildings sit side by side, their juxtaposition suggesting all sorts of meanings. The contrasting building style on a busy city street document the passage of time quite vividly, each land plot containing a story of its own unlike those built for college purposes. Far from dissolving into this nondescript mass that serves to enhance the landscape, the heterogeneity of the urban block generate a sculptural cityscape, a hierarchy of masses and surfaces that give a community a unique visual identity.
The comment about "contrasting building style(s) on a busy city street document the passage of time" relates quite vividly to the architecture of New Orleans. Because New Orleans is such an old city and it's myriad of cultural influences, differing architectural styles can be found aplenty. This is what give New Orleans so much of its charm.

Now that lare tracts of land will be rebuilt, my fear is that neighborhood rebuilding will be funnelled through a single or few architects that will "yield an undesirable monotony".

We have to ensure that many people and many ideas be incorporated into the rebuilding process in order to avoid the effect of giving the city the atmosphere of a college campus and maintaining its character as a city.

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