Well, thanks Daniel that you consider our work intetresting. If I thought another perspective was more pertinent and promising I would shift perspective. How about you? Do you have convictions about what constitutes a meaningful for contemporary architecture? Or are you unsure? (Do whatever we feel like??? What then? Or what people want??? What do they want?) Do you have the opportunity to work according to your own convictions - if you have convictions? Are you able and willing to state the principles that underly your work? Could these just be valid for you? Who is Daniel Morales to have principles all for himself? Which client should by into Daniel Morales' personal perspective???
nice to see that my statements elicited some comments ... some of them deserve a response. I start with Maurice Clarke: the capacity to design a suburban extension for a small budget is not the test-case to decide on the power and pertinence of a contemporary style. A more interesting test case: a large mixed-use complex within a complex urban site, or a new urban sub-centre. In fact the larger and the more complex the design task the more evident and compelling is parametricism’s superiority in comparison with modernism/minimalism or classicism. Thats why we are winning these kinds of projects.
Your point about minimal energy has a point. In fact parametricism is conceptually geared to take up the ecological agenda. Both in terms of techniques and in terms of sensibility parametricist architecture is eager and able to elaborate adaptive, differentiated responses to the divers environmental parameters, e.g. the building skin is being modulated according to environmental data, i.e. these data are being used as direct input into a script differentiating sunshading elements. (ZHA has been able make this kind of argument effectively and won two competitions for energy research centres.) This answers also Peter Chandler’s point about meeting pressing realities. This is also Michael Badu’s point. I agree with him that to make the claim that an epochal style is in the making requires me to define the challenge that compares, in terms of urgency and universality, to the industrial revolution which spawned Modernsim. However, energy preservation - and the ecological challenge in general - is only one of many factors. It cannot define the new era. What justifies and demands a new style is the socio-economic restructuring that has been going on for the last 35 years. The stable, homogenized society of fordist mass production has given way to the dynamic, multi-cultual network society of today. (Contributing factors: globalisation, micro-electronic revolution a.o). The organisational and communicative capacity of the promoted style and its design repertoire is key. (Environmentally motivated envelope differentiation will also serve to orient users within a lawfully differentiated environment.)
Thiery Bidet’s point about Zaha’s rich palette of architectural vocabularies is appreciated. However, parametricism continues the historical trajectory of repertoire expansion. Modernism’s repertoire and thus its versatility of formulating pertinent responses to the expanded array of design tasks was hugely increased in comparison with classicism. Parametricism increases this versatility once more. At the same time the new ability to set up associations implies that order and legibility can be maintained and enhanced. That the mastery of the new tools and techniques must be as easy as using twitter should not be expected.
Its important to be clear that the whole point of positing parametricism as style is to emphasise that the mere acquisition of new tools to play with is no longer the point. The style offers a new approach to architecture on the basis of advanced computational design tools and techniques. However, as a style parametricism involves much more than the mere employment of certain tools and techniques. As a style parametricism is marked by its aims, ambitions, methodological principles, and evaluative criteria, as well as by its characteristic formal repertoire.
Its true that the concept of style (the way we understand it now) emerged only in the 19th century. But it convinced by making sense of the earlier styles of Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque. And the concept soon led to the inevitable question formulated in the middle of the 19th century: In which style should we build? This question set up the quest to develop a modern architectural style. This question is still (once more) relevant. The attitude “We are modern, eclectic people, and as such ought to do whatever we feel like” is just pure self-indulgence. Any serious professional has to give a principled account of his/her values and methods. Somebody said: “Architects should simply work in whatever manner is suitable for the project. Historians can worry about style.” This kind pragmatic attitude is quite common. It might be okey for mainstream architects, to the extent to which they can rely on the availability of viable best practice recipes. This task of architecture as discipline is to innovate this best practice repertoire in line with general historical challenges. Ad hoc pragmatism is not enough to achieve this. For this an avant-garde is required that elaborates new principles via the combination of experimentation and theoretical reflection. Here the point is to formulate a new approach, new viable concepts, values, methods, criteria etc. When modernism went into crisis what was until then considered “suitable for the project” was bankrupt. The first reaction was to seek relief in prior architectural history. ... The search for new principles started. I think only recently – in the last 10 years – a new set of principles (concepts, values, methods, criteria etc.) have matured to the point of being able to convince more and more architects and clients.
Somebody said: “as soon as it is considered a style - it becomes mainstream and you loose your avant-garde status”. That’s great. To win over the mainstream is the ambition of every serious avant-garde movement. Without a broad following the avant-garde turns out not to be an avant-garde at all. Rarefied exclusivity is not at all what we want. We want the company of lots of collaborators and competitors. This is happening: Most young architects I meet want to participate in this collective adventure that is bound to change the urban physiognomy of this planet in the 21st century just as modernism did in the last century.