Monday, 31 May 2010


1. How come so many people tend to associate the word "ugly" with industrial materials when talking about building and architecture, whereas the word "beautiful" will often be associated with natural materials?

Do they the industrial materials unfamiliar to people, even after centuries of being surrounded by them? 


Is it their lack of complexity?


Perhaps it has something to do with the way weather and age? Most industrial materials look their best when they're new.

2. How come some many architects and designers refuse to accept this fact and its consequences?

Perhaps they're just completely in love with the not very subtle contrast between natural and industrial materials?


Is it because so many architects hope to annoy people when they live, and get famous after their death?


Is it because they have an obsession with their work looking "modern"?

Could it be that they consider their own way of experiencing a building to be a lot more important than everyone else's, and hope to convert people to the better by exposing them to what they don't like, again and again, until their sensitivity disappears?

 Are they afraid of being called nostalgic if they use traditional materials, such as local wood and stone, earth, brick, straw and turf?


I am curious about your answers, and though my questions are rhetorical, they're also quite honest. Please comment on this blog post if you have any thoughts.

Is this better? And if so, how come? (I love it, but I'm not quite sure why.)


  1. I think it might be strongly connected with craftsmanship. The last picture is beautiful because we can "see" the process required to make the pattern. We know it took time and skill.

    In wood we can also see how the material aged etc. In steel on the other hand, it's not quite as easy.

    It's probably not the correct answer, but it's at least a theory.

  2. This is me exhaling some old study notes:

    What I have read on the psychology of landscape aesthetics could be relevant in these questions. First of all, there is a well documented preference towards coherent and complex landscapes. And also mystery, a promise of something more if one would move into the landscape seems to be relevant. These findings are taken from the research of Kaplan & Kaplan. These result are mainly valid for western subjects as these studies often are not sufficiently cross-cultural.

    Bourassa put forward a tripartite theory of landscape aesthetics in 1990 including (and dividing) this aesthetics into three modes of aesthetic behavior; biological, cultural and personal. In the first mode there will not be any noticeable group differences, in the second the group differences will be distinct and in the third preferences will vary wildly on a individual level. Bourassa further claim that the first mode is mainly relevant for natural landscapes the second for landscapes dominated by human activity and the last by personal spaces, favorite places etc.

    Following this chain of thought i think a possible preferance of handcrafted surfaces over industrial surfaces is an expression of our preference towards the complex and inherently coherent. This preferance could be partly cultural and partly biological.

    Thus, i do not think it is a lack of naturalness that make people not like industrial surfaces, it must be a lack of complaxity, coherence and mystery.

    I think that the comment above describe a factor that could fit in the cultural mode in the above mentioned framework.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...