It seems that new construction makes people nervous when it looks like new construction.
I live and practice in a region that is largely fond of traditional or classical architecture, or at least architecture that poorly masquerades as classical or traditional architecture. Of course, this rule only applies to houses and anything within “the city.” I conclude this because I rarely (actually never) hear anyone give the slightest care over the destruction regularly being put up in suburban areas along retail corridors or suburban mass housing developments. There is a sense of ambivalence for the most part towards suburban commercial development. Suburban housing development is a lost cause to me. People seem to flock to the new strip mall or the new restaurant, but I rarely hear or read any comments of disappointment in the building itself let alone the poor overall site planning.
This rule does not apply to anything within the city limits where the overall nature is more urban, even though people prefer the automotive life of non-urban areas. I’m confused at how quick people are to criticize merely because they don’t “like” it.
This forces me to conclude that people’s taste for architecture is much like a child’s narrow comfort with only hot dogs and chicken nuggets. Actually some men never grow out of this stage…let’s leave it at that.
I’m not here to preach a sermon in support of ‘modern’ architecture or ‘contemporary’ architecture – whatever that means. If anyone wishes to know my preferences, visit my website or watch me on social media. Furthermore, I’m not opposed to the fact that people like or prefer what they think is classical or traditional architecture – especially for their homes – a very personal domain. To be honest, I support the notion of not needing to defend one’s preferences in architecture any more than one needs to defend their preference in music. Why do we make fun of people for liking music that has to be termed “guilty pleasures” after all? [Don’t answer that…let’s talk architecture].
How narrow is your universe?
My point is to dismiss quickly or take action to block a type of architecture simply because one “doesn’t like it” is a rather immature way to approaching civil debate and discourse – and a narrow minded way of developing neighborhoods. Why can’t architecture be critiqued on its own merit rather than its style? (I hate that word). Is it good or not? How does it work?
As usual recent events in my world inspired my writings as I have pondered and thought about this behavior. Specifically, I made the mistake of following comments about a recent local development that was promoted on social media where I perceive people mimicking a toddler turning up their nose at a new food that Mom is trying to introduce. This is when I cannot help myself from chiming in to Facebook debates. Moth to a flame my friends, I’m a moth to a flame.
To recreate some of my FB comments, I wrote “many people merely judge [architecture] based on “I don’t like how it looks” and can’t see past that to what it does for a neighborhood.”
The conversation (I am proposing) never excludes past architecture and never invites anyone to “like” something beyond what they currently like. However, it ought to challenge us to consider our future and whether we should be welcoming to other ways of creating architecture as well as opening our minds beyond the limits of where we find comfort.
Some people’s preferences with architecture are a bit like children’s views on food (very limited) and they miss the wonderful world of delicious food variety that is out there. Architecture is not that different.
I hope we can mature in our architecture (and culinary) tastes.