Radical Post-Modernism and content: Charles Jencks and Rem Koolhaas debate the issue
It was interesting to read the thoughts and ideas of two largely well known names such as Jecks and Koolhaas. They share a working understanding of another's works and approaches, but their resulting pieces are greatly different. This could be evidenced in the text also, where many times Koolhaas would object or disagree with Jencks and the questions that were being asked. This is what interested me the most. The disagreement.
It would have been perfectly expected and understandable for two people who have known each other for years to agree on topics such as the current works of one another. However, they both seemed to have differing opinions on many of the subjects which arose. An interesting section was that in regards to iconic architecture. Koolhaas is arguably an addition to this style of building, making grand gestures of architecture, but they both had very similar views on the subject. Koolhaas did explain that often an architect is almost obliged to produce iconic architecture though, as this is what the clients want.
I agree with this view. Reflecting on the idea of iconic architecture leads to potentially context-ignoring buildings like those of Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid. These architects have received plenty of criticism for creating works which do not fit in with their context, instead producing something more like a signature of their own which could be moved around the world and not lose any connection. This may very well be the case sometimes, I'm by no means arguing with that point right now. What I am considering though is that these architects are chosen because the clients are after their signature.
The Bilbao Effect is commonly referred to in regards to iconic architecture. Gehry's Bilbao Guggenheim was so successful at attracting people to it that it transformed Bilbao as a destination. Clients choose iconic architects because their buildings are capable of producing this effect. People will travel to see a futuristic, alien Hadid building because it is so different. In turn this generates fantastic opportunities for the people living in the area.
It is through this point that my reflection has led me to the consideration of something new. Iconic architecture, and subsequently the architects who design it, is often thought of as selfish. However, having been reviewing me own essay on the Constructivist movement and the ideas behind it, I have formed a new opinion of iconic architecture. I believe that maybe there is more to it than being selfish. People travel to see these works, they generate prosperity in the areas they're built in. So how can this style be selfish? Surely it is the opposite.
Iconic architecture has the ability to bring about social change, a new sense of pride for an area and encourage the people living around it. This is social architecture. It is a response. It is the recognition of an architect's signature as being capable of generating something more than a building.