Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Beginning Of The End

Apropos the Richard Rogers exhibition, Hugh Pearman writes in today's Sunday Times (which arrived as ever pressed and ironed on my breakfast tray this morning) of the end of high tech, it's long dominance over the (specifically) British architectural scene over, finally replaced by other directions. Yes, yes I know, the article namechecks FAT, but (seriously) my interest in pointing it out lies in a thought that high tech may not have been the straightforward and pragmatic style of architecture of popular consensus. Or rather there may have been more interesting things happening within it than even (or especially) its own advocates allowed. I started thinking about this when I visited the Rogers exhibition a while ago myself (see here) and found its hippy past considerably more interesting than its New Labour present. In this sense the practice represents a fairly classic baby boomer trajectory, a journey from youthful radicalism to establishment worthyness. The two jobs that made Rogers famous - Pompidou and Lloyds - collapse this shift into a relatively short period of time. From the socialist Grands Projets to the ultimate temple to Mammon with very little in between.

The notion of flexibility supposedly inherent in the (admittedly brilliant) Lloyd's building is a distant cousin to those that inspired the Pompidou Centre. These two buildings also then describe the journey of '60's radical architecture from the dematerialisation of building to a new monumentalism.

Below is a much longer post that comprises some rather random thoughts about this journey.

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