Really, you didn’t see it??

Okay, so my disgruntledness is making a brief appearance.  I am not typically the kind of architect who conceives of crazy, esoteric designs.  But I understand, and respect from an artistic point of view, those who do.  Sometimes it helps to keep your theoretical viewpoint sharp, but it’s not practical.  Usually I just look at the designs and sigh, or laugh.  But this one really has me ticked. 

MVRDV, a dutch firm, has created a design for two towers in Korea.  If you are worth your architecture salt, then you have see these already on the news or on some blog you follow – so it should be a review.  But in case you haven’t, I feel the need to post these for consideration.  The towers are under international scrutiny and criticism because they resemble the NYC  Twin Towers…and not in their architectural hey day, but at the very point when two planes hit and destroyed them and their inhabitants on 9/11.  MVRDV has claimed that they did not see the resemblance at all in their design, but critics the world over are questioning their design savvy and their responsibility as architects if they were so blind to the implications.  I agree with the critics, except one, who for some reason thinks that architecture may embody whatever ideal it wants for the sake of art…Washington Post architecture critic, Phil Kennicot says:

“The controversy seems part of a larger cultural effort to make the events of September 11, 2001 somehow sacred, to use the meaning of the terrorist attack for larger, more overbearing cultural control. So now it is being deployed against contemporary architecture, not because there is anything inherently offensive in this design (which may or may not be an intentional reference to 9/11), but because the emotions generated by the attack have been co-opted by one part of the political and cultural spectrum.

Architects have long been exploring ways to turn buildings inside out, to peel away their external skin, to represent them as if melting or hurtling through space. The metaphor to “explode” a building might well be used as a positive architectural value, to open up space, break down formal strictures, allow multiple points of access. So even if the Dutch design firm, MVRDV intended a reference to 9/11, there’s no reason that reference should be read as mocking or ironic. It might easily be seen as an effort to freeze frame a traumatic event, in architectural form, and neutralize its shock and pain.”

Really?  Am I the only one having trouble seeing where common sense is apart of this critique?  I am all about exploring form and metaphor, but really guys, sometimes there is a line that ought naught be crossed.  Not because it is done intentionally or because there may be an opportunity for exploration, but because of the basic dignities granted to humanity.  It’s not necessary, find a different version of this form and metaphor, its just a question of being sensitive.  Architects have a responsibility to people as well as art.  Art should never supercede the experience of your user, at least that’s my opinion.  You may disagree.

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    • JJFrank
    • May 1st, 2013

    9/11 was an extremely traumatic event for many. Trauma victims often recreate their trauma, all the while claiming no memory of the original trauma. This happens often with abused children and those with sexual trauma or PTSD.

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