Temporary architecture

Another brief post with some nice links as I catch up from being in Indiana last week. I have two-and-a-half weeks home, during which I need to start and finish the building of a bed with matching side tables, before another week up north for brother’s wedding and sister’s graduation.

I saw via ArtsJournal this morning an L.A. Times article on temporary architecture. This article was in part prompted by an internet rumor of a temporary mushroom-like observation deck that was to be added to the top of the Eiffel Tower. From the article (beginning with a reference to the aforementioned mushroom):

    If nothing else, the timing was perfect. Architecture has entered another of its periodic bouts of fascination with impermanence. Maybe it’s the anxiety produced by doomsday predictions about the state of the environment and, lately, the economy. Maybe it’s the quicksilver quality of digital culture, closer in character to sand or water than bricks and mortar. Whatever the source, architects are playing up the idea of temporariness, and even finding solace in it, to a degree not seen since the 1960s and ’70s, when several experimental design teams explored what Peter Cook, a member of London’s Archigram, called “expendability” and “throwaway architecture.”

I’m not sure I like where Peter Cook’s comment in the paragraph quoted above could be going, though I don’t really know the context of his words. “Expendable” or “throwaway” architecture, even the phrase “temporary architecture,” doesn’t resonate well with me. This is, simply, on account of my distaste for the cheaply built environment we put up with on a daily basis in so much of the United States. Regular readers will know I encourage better designed and more well-built structures than most of what gets thrown up along American streets these days.

However, on closer examination these structures are more like installations, more like sculptures than buildings. Installations are something I’ve long been interested in, but they don’t get much talk time on The Aesthetic Elevator since they are more difficult to pull off. They take more time, space and money to create and display. Not many artists seem to go this route. Off the top of my head I can only think of three: Sandy Skogland, Dale Chihuly and Christo. OK, so that’s more than I thought I’d be able to list off the top of my head, but the challenges in creating and marketing installations remain.

Architecture is inherently sculptural, three-dimensional, so for architects to be thinking in this way makes sense to me — as long as quality of construction in the more permanent built environment continues to improve.


About pcNielsen
Paul Nielsen founded The Aesthetic Elevator late in 2005. He owns a piece of paper, located somewhere in his house (not on the wall), stating that he earned a B.F.A. from the University of Nebraska around about 2001. While there, he studied studied architecture, graphic design and ceramics, graduating with a degree in studio art. Paul presently serves as communications manager for a small non-profit doing their print design and marketing. He spends as much time sculpting in his studio as possible — which is not nearly enough. Visit his website at pcNielsen.com.

2 Responses to Temporary architecture

  1. Arnold says:

    Such a structure could have more permanence with a second life as an installation elsewhere, such as a grandstand at a park. It would have the notoriety of having once been at the top of the Eiffel, but would have a repurposed role.

  2. TAE says:

    Great concept Arnold; hadn’t thought of that.

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