Are we human?

Architecture-People-1-AA-Pavillion-20091

T1- The conditioned outdoor room

In order to unravel the main arguments demonstrated in the writing of Bernard Rudofsky, it is essential to understand author’s background and previous work. Rudofsky was most influential for organizing a series of controversial MOMA exhibits in the second half of the 20th century. Nowadays he is remembered for numerous urbane books that provide relevant design insight that is concealed in entertaining and subversive sarcasm. The text in its undertone could be related to his famous work in MOMA: Architecture without Architects, where he states that “Architectural History , as written and taught in the Western World , has never been concerned with more than a few select cultures. “.

The term “conditioned outdoor room” is a pithy synopsis of the leading idea expressed in the first paragraph. The amenities of our modern life are unstoppably trying to conquer the climate: we can force desired temperature both outdoor and indoor, we are able to control humidity etc. Due to modern technology achievements, the permanent indoor life has become possible. Our achievements are certainly an expression of progress in technology and other industrial fields, but can turn out to be inhumane and self-destructive. Climate is not the mere weather outside, it is a whole chain: diet, tiredness, skin color, sexual development. By disturbing one of its components we are triggering unexpected changes. In other words, the author does not believe people to be able to face the nexus of climatic-ecological-environemental- and social factors.

Continuing his discussion, Rudofsky tries to embody his ideas into mind-broadening examples. One of them is concerned with the Pilgrim Fathers, the first people coming from Europe to settle in America. Apparently the willingness to control the climate has been long existing, which is also visible in the location chosen by the pilgrims. The hostile climate did not encourage a human-environment relationship, which had a direct impact on the local architecture. The temporary houses’ shape and general condition were provoked by the rough conditions and therefore there could not have been put any emphasis on aesthetics or any complex function programme.

As a counterexample, the text brings us back to Pompei’s ancient times with entirely different principals of spatial arrangements- influenced by climate itself and not the other way round. Domestic gardens had a big value for being inhabitable and providing an extension to the interior. The garden space was a room without the roof- the intangible relationship was created mainly by putting domestic elements like paintings, sculptures or expensive floor finishing outside. The ruins of Pompei arrangement even nowadays leaves a trace of the labyrinthine urban principals. Even though in some areas only bare walls can be seen, their erection stands now for a symbol of human mental and physical evolution. Contemporarily, the gardens function is to be viewed from inside. There is no real connection between the house and the garden- both spaces work as separate functions with an indirect relation.

Taken together, his written work constitutes a sustained argument for humane and sensible design. Rudofsky attempts to break our confined idea of architecture and introduce the reader to the world of indigenous designing. Another interesting thing is the discrepancy of his examples. The genesis may be explained by the authors heterogeneous interests ranging from vernacular architecture to Japanese toilets and sandal design. Inspired by the text and Rudofsky’s background, in my research I would like to explore two overlapping components: designing humane architecture and the versatility of the designer. The versatility of architecture bases on the reference to very different and sometimes unconnected fields, not as professionals but as hobbyists. I believe an architect is not enough to perform a successful design: we have to be musicians, mathematics, shoe designers, columnists and doctors trapped in a body of an architect to be able to draw inspirations and create spaces.

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