Fashion versus Convention


“Today, the idea of erudition, of the architect as connoisseur has been
rejected. It is curious that in a world of increasing specialisation, where
artists and scientists are making dynamic new work from within their
disciplines, architects have followed the lead of the management consultant,
the ultimate example of the empty generalist. Rather than rise to the
technical and artistic challenges of today, within the discipline of
architecture, mainstream practice has embraced the rhetoric of the market to
make work that is infused with brand recognition. Strategies of cybernetics,
phylogenics, parametrics, mapping – each strive to generate completely
original forms, unusual shapes, in plan, in section, sometimes both. These
bold profiles can amplify or even replace corporate logos. Lacking the
complexities and ambiguities that are held within the tradition of
architectural form, these shapes quickly lose their shiny novelty and
achieve a condition of not new, but also not old or ordinary enough to
become a part of the urban background. This inability to grow old is all too
resonant with an era of rebranding and cosmetic surgery. Architecture is now
practiced at an unprecedented global scale, and the major players seem to be
egging each other on. Who will produce the largest, and most formally
outlandish project? Who will finally say stop? Never has so much
construction been based on so few ideas.”

Adam Caruso : Traditions
in OASE 65: Ornament 2004

Illustration – Centre for Contemporary Art Nottingham 2004-2008. Caruso St John Architects.

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