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From Bauhaus to Our House

8 recommendations

Why You Hate Contemporary Architecture

Tom Wolfe's old book "From Bauhaus to Our House" took on some of these issues. In particular, modern architecture's alleged "form follows function" taking some bizarrely twisted thought processes to end up building flat-topped buildings in climates with large snowfall. Seriously? What were they thinking?

mikevp, over 2 years ago

Tom Wolfe Has Died

Yes, that is a great book as well.

I think "From Bauhaus to Our House" is more important because we can survive a period of terrible art: most people will simply ignore it and when it is over you can throw most of it into the dumpster easily enough.

Unfortunately we are not free to ignore the work of architects, and correcting their mistakes will take us centuries.

quantumofmalice, over 2 years ago

Tom Wolfe Has Died

I'll echo this book as well. A great dive into why every damn sky-rise seems to be nothing but glass panels. Short read too.

https://www.amazon.com/Bauhaus-Our-House-Tom-Wolfe/dp/031242...

Balgair, over 2 years ago

Tom Wolfe Has Died

this is my favorite wolfe as well. i was taking undergrad classes in architecture and my dad gave me the book. it made me realize that all my classes were avoiding the negative or downright stupid aspects of modernism.

my favorite part was how mies van der rohe liked buildings that looked “authentic” with undecorated steel beams visible, but because it was against the fire safety code in the usa he just glued some i-beams to the side of his chicago skyscrapers. the guy literally decorated buildings to represent a lack of decoration. this is the guy famous for the slogan “less is more.”

hsljekskfh, over 2 years ago

Tom Wolfe Has Died

Very sad to hear. His book "From Bauhaus to Our House" changed my life, finally giving me a plausible explanation as to how we managed to create such a horrific built environment post WW2.

quantumofmalice, over 2 years ago

What Makes a McMansion Bad Architecture?

I highly recommend the book (it is a quick and funny read) but to give you my short version: post WW2, academic architecture was taken over by anti-traditionalists, and purity spiraling lead to what Wolfe called "The Yale Box". People like Christopher Alexander[1] were ignored or shouted down as fascist, the craftsmen who were able to build the old way all died apprenticeless, and here we are.

[1] - https://www.amazon.com/Timeless-Way-Building-Christopher-Ale...

carsongross, about 4 years ago

What Makes a McMansion Bad Architecture?

The lack of balance, proportion, controlling lines[1] and symmetry are all bad aspects of nearly all modern (in the chronological sense) architecture, not simply McMansions.

My primary issue with McMansions specifically (beyond the fact that they lost the thread on western architecture, which should be blamed on the academy[2]) is that the materials and workmanship are terrible: ugly gaps, quick to stain stuccos and metals, slapdash construction and very little craftsmanship. The flip culture that the mortgage-debt bubble of the last 15 years created has exacerbated this issue to almost comical levels.

[1] - https://www.amazon.com/Old-Way-Seeing-Architecture-Magic/dp/...

[2] - https://www.amazon.com/Bauhaus-Our-House-Tom-Wolfe/dp/031242...

EDIT: After reading another post[a] of his, it is worth mentioning another chronic problem with modern (again chronological, not stylistic) building: the buildings often look like they are about to fall over. A particular pet peeve of mine is the flashing gap found at the base of many houses and buildings, which introduces a disconcerting negative gap right where a soothing, wide foundation should be. Visual insanity.

[a] - http://mcmansionhell.tumblr.com/post/148935246684/mcmansions...

carsongross, about 4 years ago

Learning to Love Brutalist Architecture

For those of you inclined to disagree with the idea of learning to love obviously ugly buildings, I would like to recommend two books:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Geography-Nowhere-Americas-Landsca...

http://www.amazon.com/Bauhaus-Our-House-Tom-Wolfe/dp/0312429...

Kunstler is a bit of a crank, but his analysis of the problems with modern architecture and urbanism are very good. Wolfe, of course, is a genius, and his very short book is a fantastic and deeply funny (if depressing) read.

carsongross, over 4 years ago

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