Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Myths of Domestic Utopia

Things magazine has a short riff on the confrontational ecomodernism that dominates architectural discussion on the magazine and the web:

Periodically, the design media indulges in rants against the moribund aesthetic of the status quo, yet the 'average style' that makes up the majority of houses built around the world remains almost entirely invisible in media terms. As a result, the 'average home' has taken on an abstract quality, a universal design bogeyman of indeterminate form - although it is always ugly, invariably oversized, and inevitably representing a lapse in taste on behalf of planners, the public (and, whisper it, other architects)....

It's frustrating how easily - and willingly - discourse about modern architecture slips into us-and-them dualisms. But without a fundamental antagonism, modern architecture loses its radical thrust and threatens to become just plain old architecture, and that would never do. The argument at the core of the Australian debate - that building should accommodate landscape, rather than the other way around - seems to be about modernism as a means of assuaging environmental, even post-colonial, guilt about interaction with the land.

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