Sunday, August 30, 2020

A sense of identity

"The state of placelessness" or "the escalating homogeneity of urban spaces" is, for Darran Anderson, one of the scourges of the modern globalised world: "Everywhere looks like everywhere else and, as a result, anywhere feels like nowhere in particular." His recent article for the Atlantic is a passionate, persuasive and eloquent statement of the case for the vernacular as opposed to the rootlessness, blandness and brutal indifference of corporate architecture. All too often, the former is bulldozed to make way for the latter in the name of "progress".

For Anderson, the issue is not just aesthetics - it's the environmental and social costs, and the dangerous degree of detachment and insulation from reality. While acknowledging that the vernacular can be interpreted in crudely conservative and traditionalist ways, he nevertheless insists that we need an architecture that (re)connects those who inhabit and experience it to the local landscape, to history and heritage, and to those around them.

The breadth of references is one of the most impressive things about the piece, and I was particularly intrigued by the extraordinary story of Fordlandia, which sounds like Bournville or Port Sunlight on crack.

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