Great Expectations: A Journey through the History of Visionary Architecture Actors: Oscar Niemeyer, Buckminster Fuller, Le Corbusier, Tadao Ando, Toyo Ito Director: Jesper Wachtmeister Studio: Icarus Films DVD release: 5 October 2010 Runtime: 105 minutes (1 disc) Format: Color, DVD-Video, NTSC, Widescreen DVD Features: Bonus film Kochuu 4.5 stars
There’s a funny TED Talk video called “Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics” about how to make a good — and a bad — TED Talk. One way to go bad is to talk about architecture. We may be safe in generalizing from TED to the general culture: architecture makes most people grow faint and causes their eyes to roll.
Which is weird, because in and around architecture is where we engage with other people the most. Buildings great and small is pretty much exclusively where we conduct the four F’s — the two familiar ones, fight or flight, plus the two even more familiar ones that everybody forgets to put on the F-list: freeze (or space out), and fuck. Architecture is where we live all the fundamentals of, well, life. From coffee to water cooler to toilet to bed, we really, really need architecture to help house us.
Architectural history and agendas ought to be taught in grade school. We ought to be taught to find beauty in a joist, or a good coat of insulation, for the simple reason that thinking about buildings and their interactions with people, other buildings, and the rest of the world — in other words, thinking about the ecology of construction — is a good thing, like reading and writing and music and math. And if we knew more about how things went together, the costs involved (both economic and environmental), we might make smarter choices about the places we build to live and work in.
It’s possible architecture and construction were taught in ancient times, as part of the normal school that goes into growing an adult(ish) human. Birds learn it, bees learn it, humans can learn architecture, too. Indeed, the root of our word “poetry” is an ancient Greek one meaning the sometimes all-too-familiar action “to make” and, by association, the agent practicing the action, the “maker.” But then, in the olden days, pigs knew how to make brick houses and wolves knew how to blow them down.
So much we’ve lost. Now our concern is getting the kids to soccer in the minivan which, when you stop and examine the interior, is a lot like a house in some ways. Continue reading