photo & text by nacrowe
in the modern age we are spoiled with examples of both awe-inspiring, mind-bending and deeply challenging ARCHITECTURE. the rate of INNOVATION with regards to techniques and materials is something we take for granted, much like the parallel track that we see with computing technology. unlike digital technology, prominent architecture is not an ephemeral entity, instead it is a tangible representation of our current culture for future generations to appreciate, inhabit and incorporate into their owned lived experience.
what makes ROSS KING's book BRUNELLESCHI'S DOME: HOW A RENAISSANCE GENIUS REINVENTED ARCHITECTURE (BLOOMSBURY, 2013) so compelling is that it relates how the first modern skyscraper, the dome of the CATTEDRALE DI SANTA MARIA DEL FIORE (i.e. the FLORENCE CATHEDRAL), was built effectively for the first time since antiquity during the middle ages. in the 15th century when the dome was built over an 18-year span, FILIPPO BRUNELLESCHI had to bitterly compete against successful rivals (notably LORENZO GHIBERTI) and repeatedly convince the powerful wool guild (who were funding the operation) of unproven techniques such as a 360-degree oxen-driven pulley system, cross-fitted herringbone patterns of bricks with embedded (and hidden) iron rings and a dual layer dome with lighter materials used the further up it went. according to KING, the success of the raising of the dome of SANTA MARIA DEL FIORE sparked an era of innovation that caught the imagination of later artists, sculptors, architects and technical-minded local standouts like MICHELANGELO, DONATELLO and LEONARDO.
for me the most interesting aspect of this book is how BRUNELLESCHI was alone among his peers in taking the time to study the works of antiquity, especially the ruins of ROMA, for REFERENCE and INSPIRATION. during this period the common view was that their was nothing to be gained INTELLECTUALLY, TECHNICALLY or ARTISTICALLY from their PAGAN antecedents, as the regional powers of what later became ITALY were superior in their CHRISTIAN worldview. in fact, marble from old buildings was often repurposed into churches and headstones among other trivial entities. it is hard to believe that BRUNELLESCHI was alone in his efforts to unlock the secrets of creating not only a dome, but one with a hexagonal pattern. he found such an analogue in spa from one of NERO's palaces, and spent years devising a plan to make such work on a larger scale.
it would seem that convincing a massive paying entity to entrust that you're unproven techniques will be successful decades down the line in the most public of forums is quite the achievement. feels like the modern-day analogue to the lunar landing or the construction of the PANAMA CANAL. i couldnt help when reading about BRUNELLESCHI's curt, caustic temperament and sense of innate superiority the contemporary WILLY WONKA / TONY STARK figure of ELON MUSK. makes you wonder how he will be remembered generations down the line.
photo manipulation by nacrowe
ABSTRACT: THE ART OF DESIGN is an ongoing NETFLIX series of documentaries that highlights exemplars associated with various fields of design. in this entry i am focused on the episode related to the inventive, progressive creative work of the modern DANISH architect BJARKE INGELS.
before watching this episode my prior entry point to his work was a critique by THE LIFE-SIZED CITY YOUTUBE series which criticized a pedestrian bridge to his new corporate complex in COPENHAGEN which serviced no target demographic and in fact made nearby major intersections less efficient. so there you go, my only bias. i've never been to DENMARK and have never seen INGELS' work in the flesh. what the episode presents is a young, ambitious architect that has an inclusive YES IS MORE mentality towards commissions and input by shareholders. his designs seem inventive, modern and slightly ostentatious, yet apparently are made on the cheap utilizing lesser unconventional materials.
i haven't been to DENMARK, but i have been all around EUROPE and what always struck me was this dual sword represented in the idea of tradition. this focus on tradition can be manifested in art, music, food, clothing and architecture and can either be stifling to creativity or a springboard. you get the sense that DANISH culture is rather reserved and its buildings highly practical with a certain uniformity that belies the homogeneity of its people. INGELS comes off as almost AMERICAN in both his ambition and sheer bravado. i mean the dude, made a ski slope on top of a power plant. i have no idea if this guy is a PRITZKER level talent or an ambitious yet reductive, over-hyped upstart.
not sure i really care either way whether or not he is a naive at best or a charlatan at worst, which seems to be the consensus of his detractors. his cost-effective, multi-use spaces provide a bit of poetry towards infrastructure concepts that are long overdue stateside. his energy and commitment to sustainability and efficiency as well as fun is sorely missed in outdated, eyesore AMERICAN infrastructure targets like airports, train stations and community centers.
we need rejuvenation. something to capture our imagination. just like our democracy and adherence to market capitalism, our architecture is outmoded. we need to get on that. rejuvenate. put a ski slop on a goddamn power plant already!
parodies by nacrowe
tonight's new episode of DEER GOD RADIO at 8PM on MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC is focused on the EXTREME METAL / HARDCORE PUNK crossover genre METALCORE. this show is related to the POST-HARDCORE show from a few months back, as both genres have similar influences, but METALCORE is much more about the brutality of the breakdown (borrowed from NEW YORK HARDCORE) and the ferocity of the DEATH METAL, THRASH METAL, GRINDCORE and BLACK METAL. gonna be a fun show, can't wait!
past episodes of DEER GOD RADIO as well as other MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC shows like MAKE HER SPACE, NOWHERE FAST, THE SYNTHESIZER SHOW and CLASSICAL-ISH WITH NUTMEG are available here at the DEER GOD website.
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