Today in the press there is a good example of what the world is up against in the struggle to make places that make sense. First, on his website at www.hughpearman.com, the critic Hugh Pearman (I guess you could figure that out…), a Brit, writes a recap on the status of making sustainable buildings and cities around the world. It’s a good piece, and he balances optimism with a (too brief) description of what we’re up against. Whistling in the dark, I think, but he does say, as I did the other day, that we know how to do what needs to be done – we just have to do it, and really fast.
Dongtan, China, by Arup and SOM, a sustainble city now in construction
Next comes a review of a building in Munich. The review appeared in today’s New York Times, and was written by their architecture critic, Nicholas Ouroussoff. The building is called BMW Welt, and was designed by a firm called Coop Himmelb(l)au (no, not a typo). The building looks like this:
BMW Welt, by Coop Himmelb(l)au
Ourousoff says: “the glittering forms of the BMW Welt building appeared, and immediately rekindled my faith in architecture’s future.” Oh? Not mine.
So there, in a nutshell, is what we are up against. The New York Times architecture critic has fallen head over heels for yet another in the latest line of designer label shapes and forms from the starchitects, who are so irrelevant it barely bears noting. Meanwhile, I read this the other day:
“Saving civilization is not a spectator sport,” says Dr. Lester Brown, founder and director of the Earth Policy Institute, and founder and former director of the Worldwatch Institute. “We have reached a point in the deteriorating relationship between us and the earth’s natural systems where we all have to become political activists. Every day counts. We all have a stake in civilization’s survival.”
It is a very, very difficult road ahead. And so many of the most famous architects, and critics, are completely irrelevant in shaping a usable future.