26 November 2011

Ugh you very much

Among some of urban life's biggest mysteries are how architects keep getting away with erecting phallic monstrosities of glass and steel. They are even rewarded by press and peers, naming these buildings the most livable (despite the fact half of the apartments are often vacant). The fortress of glass and steel lining the city harbour is downright uninviting (it's all office buildings, so it is a closed party anyway), sucking all the energy out of an area that should be full of life. I am not impressed. To me good urban architecture is about making a city livable, meeting the basic human needs. I prefer the approach of making what is already there work for you, like turning rooftops into gardens and offering sundecks to a light-deprived population. 

Speaking as someone suffering her teens in a concrete brick, I would never again want to live in anything "modern", ugh you very much. Just to be clear: I am not promoting a ban on modern architecture here, I am just suggesting that it be done with real people in mind. Ah, I will earn myself a spanking for saying this one way or the other, haha. Anyway, on the subject of architecture, I find myself strangely drawn to the playfulness of these balconies:

Sunset sky on Vesterbro

Behold the new Copenhagen Lamp at half steam (it takes them a while to fire up to killer blue). I don't know if the pink sky drowns it out, but the balconies here are all shades of ochre, and it looked particularly appetizing on that night. Ochre + pink = yum.

None of these are from the scary era, but as houses go they are still fairly recent. I like them older, lived in and oozing history. Mmm, squeaky old wooden floors and unmodernized kitchens that you can make your own. Very near impossible to come by because at the end of the day that is what we all want. Including the architects. Go figure.


  1. Mhmmm. Yup to all of that :)

    Then again, at least it's not Socialist Realism :) All those identical big concrete masses in Lithuania...

    That last photo in this post is brilliant, love the painted balconies.

  2. Hi Sandra, I don't like to live in modern buildings either, but i know people who do. Here in Paris, tall buildings are forbidden, but until when? I think the problem in Paris would be more that it is overpopulated than aesthetics. I visited some modern apartments where you have no choice to put your bed this way or it just does't fit/work UGH!!!! I find it unbearable. One's habitat should be a space of freedom. On the other hand, in NY, concrete and glass can be very very appealing. I think Europe is different. Some of the modern buildings in Paris next to Bercy or the BNF are a real success, I haven't been inside but from the outside it is a mix of park and nice looking architecture. I can't imagine how much it costs though...

  3. Hi Carole, now that I think about it, there are a lot of new and uniform buildings lining the way going into Paris from the airport. But as soon as you reach the centre it is... well, maybe the most beautiful city in the world? If you do need to add modern, I just think it is important it is done with consideration for the surroundings and the inhabitants.

    I am not opposed to all modern architecture, far from it, but too many of the architects and their clients seem to think of themselves only. And I agree, the modern houses where you have no choice to mix it up and at least turn the bed in the direction you want: claustrophobic!

    My next assignment is to find something recently made that I love. Something that allows people to breathe, and doesn't scar the surroundings. :-)

  4. Hi Dave,
    The socialist buildings that you are referring to give me the creeps, we have some of them in the suburbs. When I see these buildings I always pity people for living there. And then I feel bad because maybe they are happy with it (yeah, I am finding that really hard to believe). All I know is that if I was forced to live there, I would die.

  5. I live in a skyriser, and I'm happy with it. Don't feel bad for me, I won't die from living there ;)
    Actually I enjoy the view from my 9th floor apartment. And I don't miss the stairs that you always find in older buildings (I've lived on 3rd or 4th floor many times).

    PS: I agree that the DDR concrete buildings are quite depressing, but not all high-risers are like that ;)

  6. Obviously someone have to love the new/tall buildings, otherwise they would not be around. I am happy that you are happy living on the 9th floor (ha, I'm getting dizzy just thinking about it).


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