hadid in glasgow – mammoth // building nothing out of something

hadid in glasgow

Entschwindet und Vergeht penned a thoughtful and clever critique of Hadid’s Museum of Transport (in Glasgow) a bit over a month ago:

I’ve already discussed ZHA a number of times here, often in regards to unwittingly interesting things that they’ve done, such as the accidental brutalism of LF1 and the Wolfsburg museum (which I shall only even consider visiting once it has become seriously rotten) and I suppose that this counts as a continuation of the series. The more I think about it though, the more I consider just how truly ridiculous an architectural practice they are, the more I’m beginning to think that she, Patrick and all the rest of them are geniuses after all, just not at all in the way that they would like to think that they are. ZHA are conceptual architects, not because their ideas are particularly intelligent (bet you can’t wait to have PS tell us what it’s all about), but because their over-attachment to a certain architectural ideology leads to results that are so ludicrous that they tell you far more about the world in which they appear than a more serious, successful piece of architecture could. Like Jeff Koons or Damien Hirst, the success of their blatant shit-ness speaks volumes about the state of their field, its ideologies and economies.

Owen Hatherly’s comment is (unsurprisingly) particularly perceptive:

“…it’s the sheer expanse of the gulf between shape-maker and engineer in Zaha’s work that is so interesting here, and how it conflicts wildly with the modernist ideology to which they pay at least lip service. Stylists who present themselves in one form or another as stylists is one thing, stylists who present themselves as parametricist technocrats is quite another. There is, in Parametricism, as Murphy has said in conversation, a sort of Hegelian will-to-form which constantly tries to deny that what they do is a merely stylistic choice, but rather some sort of expression of the technological-historical weltgeist. This makes it ripe for mocking and poking at, but at least it says (well, not quite straightforwardly) what other architects are thinking – that their work isn’t just arbitrary stylism and dressing-up but *serious stuff*.”

Which is roughly the same thing I find so very frustrating about the AA-incarnation of landscape urbanism, though expressed in different terms…

[via lewism, slowly]

2 Responses to “hadid in glasgow”

  1. namhenderson says:

    Re: your last point the difference for me is perhaps best illustrated by the following books. On one side you have books like Berger’s Drosscape or Kirkwood’s Manufactured Sites: Re-thinking the Post-industrial Landscape and the other Landscape Urbanism: A Manual for the Machinic Landscape, by Mostafavi. One set deals with specific conditions and problems, the other is mostly urban/landscale parametricism..

  2. rob says:

    Yeah, Nam, that’s exactly what I was thinking of — though the North Americans and Australians (Berger, Corner, Weller) tend to talk about landscape urbanism in a really similar way to the AA folks, the actual work evidences the distinction between specificity and parametricism that you bring up.