The next upcoming CREAte Open Lecture will be on Wednesday 25th October at 6PM in Marlowe Lecture Theatre 1. The lecture, entitled ‘Architecture of Place’ will be given by James Kruhly, Founder of Kruhly Architects.
Almost one hundred years ago, Le Corbusier in his Vers Une Architecture advocated creating buildings with the simplicity and efficiency of American silos, factories and ocean liners…”machines for living in.” Modern architecture was born, causing an excitement in the profession, but a resultant destruction of existing urban fabrics and vestiges of a culture’s visual preferences. With his proposal for a new Garden City, which destroyed an entire quartier of existing Paris, Le Corbusier showed his reckless disregard for context, a disregard which has lasted for an entire century. Almost fifty years later, Robert Venturi’s Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture, brought the issue of alternative styles architectural discourse. Unfortunately, his emphasis on decorating buildings with “honky-tonk” ambiguous elements caused a generation of well-intentioned, but empty gestures which did little to energize existing urban fabrics. Certainly Le Corbusier’s followers created buildings more destructive to existing cities, but Venturi’s follower did little to create a new richness and excitement with the introduction of their “ordinary” structures and “decorated sheds.”
Few architects working in a language of the modern idiom have been able to design deeply moving, imaginative buildings which are not only respectful to the existing context but actually clarify and enhance it. But it is certainly possible, and has been accomplished by a handful of very talented architects…Kahn, Barragan, Zumthor, Murcutt, Moneo, Ando to name a few. The element that they all imbue their work with which causes their successful bridging of past and present is poetry. Poetic re-interpretation of an existing fabric, poetic expression of place, of culture, of a history of the site take the more abstract qualities of a modern architectural language and give it meaning, relevance and richness. The emphasis on technology starting with Le Corbusier and intensified today with the “green” movement which thrives on repetition and efficiency has sabotaged the issue of context and caused a boring consistency to present day buildings which lack a sense of place and personality and result in an architecture of nowhere.
Fifty years after Venturi’s Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture, ARCHITECTURE OF PLACE will discuss the true role which a concern for context should play in the design of today’s buildings. It will study how architects who have created beautiful buildings appropriate to their context and culture have accomplished this feat and how they have used poetry to this end.
James Kruhly is founder and principal of Kruhly Architects. A Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, a member of l’Ordre des Architectes, France, and a Gold Medalist of the Philadelphia Chapter AIA, Kruhly has been a Distinguished Visiting Professor of Architecture at a number of universities in the US, as well as in Europe.