Thursday, 14 October 2010


An assertion: There is such a thing as architecture, and there is such a thing as carchitecture. Carchitecture is the vulgar cousin in the family of architecture, who looks bad, smells worse, makes noise and takes up too much space. 

Last week, our class went to the building site of the new IKEA here in Bergen. We learned alot about concrete, which was really interesting, but I must admit that what really caught my attention, was the enormous contrasts between the two sorts of cultural landscape on the site. On top of what used to be untouched marshland, IKEA is building an enormous new store, with parking spaces, steel walls, concrete floors and big signs; the architecture of the car. It has to be big and have enormous contrasts to catch the eye of the driver, it has no details because they're not visible form inside a moving car anyway. There's hardly a way of getting there without a car, the whole economy of the place is based on people driving in and out. I have a lot of stuff from IKEA, and I'm not judging people who buy things there, but the architecture is one of a century that has already passed. I think we're barely able to keep it going, because we can feel inside that humans are not made for this society of transportation.

And right behind all of this, we could see bits of the agricultural landscape, with houses and farm buildings, built from wood and stone, with woods, fields, meadows, small creeks. It was not at all wild nature, but it looked like a form of human coexistence with nature. It was based mostly on people walking to do their job, living next to where they earned their living. 

It got me thinking about what artificial landscapes can be, and I can't help blame the car. The landscape of suburbia, the built landscape oddly placed outside the city, without any visible or logical connetions, more or less came with the common use of cars, and my prediction is that it will more or less die away with it in not too many years. The landscape of suburbia is mostly shaped by cars, who are taking up surface could have been used to preserve nature, build houses, parks, lakes, everything a city needs. The suburban, sprawling landscape, eats away human contact with the biological, and makes it a distant place in the horizon, instead of something quite close to where you live. 

My opinion is that architects should stop designing carchitecture. No more detached homes out in the forest, no more shopping malls with skirts of surface parking instead of houses, no more drive-in restaurants, no more single-use building complexes... That would be an important step towards a sustainable architecture.


  1. building site of ikea; ultimate non-place

  2. It is obvious that ordinary people want it that way, or else they would not buy their stuff at IKEA. Architects seems to isolate themselves in their abstract (although aesthestically correct) dreamworld instead of teaching the public about how changes in our society can be made.


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