Humanizing Architecture

 

Albert Einstein once stated, “It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity”. I think retaining a human-scale to design has become increasingly difficult because of the current influence of technology and digital fabrication. Adam Marcus discussed this issue in his lecture “Computation & Craft” by acknowledging the existing divide between new ways of representation and old ways of working (art and craft). He referenced the Guangzhou Opera House in China and mentioned that despite the beautiful material qualities and shocking presence, the monumental design is somewhat “otherworldly” and dehumanizing.

According to Malcom Moore’s “Guangzhou Opera House Falling Apart”, the $130 million project is failing structurally due to underestimating the complexity of design during construction. Moore explains that large cracks have formed in the ceiling and walls, and many of the glass panels have fallen or shifted from their place, creating rain damage. In The Art & Craft of the Machine from 1901, Frank Lloyd Wright claims that “…not one educational institution in America has as yet attempted to forge the connecting link between science and art by training the artist to his actual tools, or, by a process of nature-study that develops in him the power of independent thought”. Even 100 years later, Wright’s quote seems to remain relevant. I think Marcus’s proposed solution of utilizing the computer as an “instrument” in the design process and working back-and-forth between computer and hand-crafted representation will not only help merge the design and construction stages, but also keep structures at a human-scale.

 

 

Moore, Malcom. “Guangzhou Opera House Falling Apart.” The Telegraph. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Nov. 2012.

Wright, Frank Lloyd. The Art & Craft of the Machine. N.p.: n.p., 1901. Print.

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One comment

  1. shiha003

    I fully support this argument of creating humanized architecture as well as creating craft that lasts for more then 10-30 years. Spending four months studying abroad in Rome, Italy, I became very familiar with some of the oldest architecture in the world. And while there are many monuments and large-scale buildings, they seemed to understand hundreds of years ago the proportions of humans and creating spaces that catered to them, without sacrifice in creating a monumental place.
    One of my favorite buildings in Rome was the Pantheon, for good reason. We all have learned about the greatness of the Pantheon and how it has stood the test of time. But nothing really prepares you for the immensity of the Pantheon when you actually experience it in person. The vaulted ceiling, curved walls, and marble structure all play into creating a space for worship, but I never felt de-humanized by the space. The color of the marble and soft curves creates an inviting space.
    Another thing that architects during the Roman times understand was the concept of reusing a building. The reason that there are still so many old buildings around Rome, is they have been able to change the programs of the buildings as the times have changed. Design is not all about using long-lasting materials, but also a long lasting design. Looking at the Guangzhou Opera House, I am not sure what else the space could be used for, and if it is already failing, I’m not sure who would want to continue to use it.

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