Thursday, 8 December 2011

"Forging a new design"

"Forging a new design"

 A tribute to Walter Groupius, Hannes Meyer,
Vann Molyvann, other architects of the past,
and to those who tend to follow and forge another

I am quite fascinated when I was young about buildings. From reading books to looking every office building in Makati, it showed how modern the society is, especially that most of it are deeply influenced by the progress in lifestyle and of a promising future, thanks to the architects who started it all.

Most of them tend to forge something that is new into their eyes, all influenced by electricity, steel and concrete, these became basis in order for their creative juices to vent upon to-not just for themselves but for the benefit of everyone in a progressive society. One of which was Walter Gropius and his Bauhaus school.

Gropius somehow tend to create something that would appease both individual creativity and the needs of the people. That, in the infrastructures being built, of interiors being designed, are forms of establishing artistic individuality and industrial mass production; or rather say the concept supported by the need of mass such as good factories and homes with condusive, holistic settings, making what somebody would say an art serving the people.

As evidenced by Gropius's part in Arbeitsrat für Kunst and in the Novembergruppe, it tends to support, define and mold art and craft in the development of a future society that is progressive and holistic in the development of man. The factories for instance, ought to be temples of labor and thus it ought to be holistic, progressive and conducive in order for the workers to work well enough in it. How come the AEG turbine building, the Fagus Factory are designed so good that they end up as museums featuring industrial architecture? Obviously other factories are succumbed to deterioration and eventual demolition since most of it are merely built for production, metal roofs and concrete walls, but where's the conduciveness?

Hannes Mayer, also an Architect and Mason, like Gropius, tends to make creativity and mass production united, but his ideas are quite radical than his fellow Architect in Bauhaus as he emphasised Functionalism and of buildings designed to fulfill social needs. Quite radical to think of since he's also a Marxist in orienting things including architecture and design, but it would be quite noticing that

It makes someone think that despite pairing plain and simple end up comparing it. Is Plainness meant Simplicity? If so, how come there are graffitis in the walls adding color to the scene? How come there are houses that carries good design outside and inside despite having simplicity in it? Sadly to say, there are buildings of good design being demolished for goddamn sake of making plain box-type ones like those of standalone theatres in Manila. Simple but then nice as it feature bas reliefs of barrio life.

In Cambodia, its contemporary architecture during its early days of independence from France emphasised simplicity and conduciveness such as natural ventilation and lighting, of contemporarizing traditional architecture and traditionalizing contemprary architecture as part of making a modern Cambodia, since Sihanouk's vision during those early times was, and perhaps is a modern, developed country and an integral part of the world making him drive an all-encompassing effort to modernize the country, from agriculture to infrastructure and industry, education to health care, tourism to the arts; and that also includes the use of distinctly Cambodian elements, merging them seamlessly with Modern elements like what Vann Molyvann did in his architectural wonder that most of it, sadly to say,  some of it are being demolished or threatened to be demolished in favor of box-type ones devoid of conduciveness and beauty in favor of goddamn sake plainness.

After all, how wonder why most are tending to revisit good architectural wonders yet creating different from what they're inspired with. Some tend to complain that it required much cement and steel to create those infrastructure; obviously, yes but does it mean no chance to make simple but strong and stylistic ones to match those with grandeur? In this fast changing world lies a means to forge new designs the way Gropius tend to unite the artistry of an individual and social progress like simple yet conducive mass housing and stylistic but holistic workplace to work productively. But for sure least of those people engaging in architecture and interior design tend to do so, as most preferred creating all for goddamn sake and liable for demolition at the end, or perhaps catering to the wealthy for pieces of silver. Remembering how Rizal Theatre in Makati being demolished for Shangri-La Plaza Hotel; while Quezon City's City hall, originally with its International Style architecture end up merely a peice of crap of paint and tiles; or even the classical fire station in Barangay Daanghari, Navotas that end up its exterior look like a comfort room because of walls full of bathroom tiles in it. Sadly to say, most are likely to give up architectural wonder for making buildings for sake.

Once, I even think about this kind of drawing got from a social networking site. It said that it was made by a so-called "Ministry of Housing and Social Well Being" from a social networking site whose group consists of  "trying to dare the impossible" idealists addicted to war and science fiction:

At first, it would say that it is a good example of a concept such as a mass housing project, that according to that page it is for "the poor, low income families," and a "proposed solution to the squatter problems throughout the nation"; good so to speak, but comparing to the condominiums being built today,  might as well thinking that the features of that concept are quite common like the past; and perhaps would be costly if it requires much cement and steel only to found that its foundations are weak. The question of lighting and ventilation would be tacked especially in a country whose weather is dry and wet, that made Van Molyvann think about what we now call “green” technologies such as double roofs, cross-ventilation, brise-soleils, indirect lighting, evaporative cooling, including the use of local materials all into exquisite architectural forms fit for a tropical setting instead of overtly use of electricity for air conditioning and lighting (Green architecture?). Mass housing would be nicer if someone tend to create a style similar to Gropius and Molyvann, of simplicity and style, of conducive and holistic rather than being built for the sake of being built and called it as "mass housing."

Kinda weird so to speak about this, but perhaps there are still architects, interior designers, artists willing to create, forge new designs with the support of craftsmen, masons, even carpenters so to speak; that Gropius, through his Bauhaus school included in their curriculum of engaging in craftsmanship as part of practising their professions closer to the reality including how to create walls out of bricks and mortar and weave cloth in a hand-held loom; it may be weird but that means practice to some who engage in it-that would say that how come Molyvann made Khmer architecture closer to modernity and perhaps what makes architecture closer to nature as the promising future ought to see. 

In the Philippines, there are Architects trying to fuse traditional and modern ones all in pursuit of modernizing the Filipino identity. The standalone theatres of Manila were once examples of a showcase featuring art nouveau and art deco architecture, of bas reliefs featuring Filipino lifestyle, but most of it are left deteriorating, making them liable for demolition as most people ought to see especially in Avenida Rizal and in Quiapo.  Andres Luna de San Pedro, Fernando Ocampo, Juan Nakpil once tend to do so in making buildings prominent in the eyes of everyone that most, or some end up perished during the war and few are being preserved entirely...or perhaps its shell. 

However, speaking of preservation, most think that preserving buildings are reserved to age-old Churches and houses made during the Spanish period like those in Intramuros and in Vigan, few are willing to preserve those made during the American era as post-war mentality of progress resulted some of it, no matter how prominent it was be demolished and forgotten. Speaking of Spanish-era houses, most end up as accessoria houses that people think of those living in it as squatters; Quiapo for instance, had Spanish houses that end up as accessoria and no matter how old it was be end up also threatened by demolition "simply because they are deteriorating."

The Boix house, once owned by a French aristocrat, then bought by the Jesuits, is one of the examples of once prominent houses being end up as accessoria and perhaps, neglected and nearly forgotten. Few somehow tend to call that house as a neighbor of Nakpil-Bautista's, but few tend to call for its rehabilitation as its walls and features of it are deteriorating, as its steel becoming rusty and walls perhaps rotting. 

Well, there are chances of preserving buildings for posterity the way most tried to preserve every piece of our lives such as experience, music and others that made us satisfied and happy. Old buildings and perhaps designs from prominent architects such as Gropius, Molyvann, Luna de San Pedro, Nakpil and others somehow served as an idea and inspiration to forge a new design all in pursuit of creating a society of man. And perhaps, in a coming future, would be a chance to create something new, of forging new designs and sharing ideas, of creating progressive social framework, in balancing town and country, and in advancing development of both material and perhaps, spiritual wealth in a great, energetic, eternally active and living whole.