The Politics of Crap

Architectural competitions to design *only* the facade of a building are increasingly commonplace in Germany, according to an op-ed piece in the German magazine Bauwelt. These kinds of competitions provide a compromise solution between a city’s qualitative interest in maintaing a certain image on the one hand, and property developers’ quantitative commercial interest in nothing but the maximum leasable floor area on the other. Architecture is thereby increasingly limited to superficial image, proving Philip Johnson right when he categorized it as “a branch of cake decoration.”

It also proves Peter Eisenman wrong when he says, as he so often does, that architecture built under rightist governments is better than that built under leftist ones. While indeed a very small élitist fraction may be better, the vast majority is utter crap. Perhaps the real question we should be asking this: in which part of the political spectrum does the most crap get built?

About Rafael Gomez-Moriana

I am an architect, writer and educator. rafagomo.com chronicles my architectural making, writing, teaching and curating activity, while criticalista.com is an archive of my writings as well as a platform for venting personal rants and observations. I studied architecture at the University of Waterloo (Canada) and at the Berlage Institute (the Netherlands). I direct the University of Calgary’s architecture term-abroad program in Barcelona and teach at CIEE, and have previously taught in the Metropolis Masters Program in Architecture and Urban Culture as well as at Carleton University and the University of Manitoba.

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