By continuing to use the site you agree to our Privacy & Cookies policy

Your browser seems to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser.

Close

Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Close

Icon frenzy replaces modesty with ego

letters

The problem with the current blether is that to Charles Jencks' 'existential questions' (AJ 9.9.04) - 'What should a building mean? In what style should it be? What associations should it have? What iconography should it adopt?' - too many architects will answer 'Bold!

An Icon! Kind of out-there! Something to make me seem trendy and daring, sexy and famous!' - forgetting, in their excitement, that they have not yet asked what is going on inside the building, what it is and who it is for - 'What might the building itself want to be?' The answer to this question might be: 'I want to be simple and quiet, well-mannered and well put together'. Or maybe even:

'Whatever makes those who use me most content'. There is a world of difference between, say, Utzon, who understood the virtues of simplicity and modesty (Sydney Opera House, pictured) - and where the need for celebration overtook them - and today's restless, self-advertising egotists.

Malcolm Fraser , Malcolm Fraser Architects, Edinburgh

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment.

The searchable digital buildings archive with drawings from more than 1,500 projects

AJ newsletters