Architecture Interviews

Image or Text? The role of Online Art Magazines

In anticipation of the Venice Architectural Biennale, Artdecision Magazine is offering the opinion of experts on architectural criticism and other subjects. 

Irina Vernichenko, Artdecision, Geneva: What is the relevance of analytical texts and of expert opinions in these Internet-influenced times?

Anna Bronovitskaya, Institute of Modernism, Moscow, editor-in chief of “Project International” from 2004 through 2014:

With travel being more accessible than ever and the internet producing information at the speed of a click, it seems that the younger generation often have a well-developed feel for what is important, cool, and they are better than the older generation in choosing which Instagram accounts to subscribe to.  However, it is important to realise that Instagram or even a site like Archdaily does not provide an understanding of the ideas behind beautiful pictures.

Xenia Vytuleva, Philosophy II ETH & Institute of Theory of Architecture, gta ETH, Zurich:

The essential goal of the expert or critic or curator is similar to a magician – to make the invisible visible. To read between the lines, to provide another lens. Sometimes it can happen in an incredibly pragmatic and poetic way. Not only to show less visible aspects of the building, but to read the program and the poetry of the building, the airflow, the structural composition, so you start to understand how the building is operating, how it is working. The famous line of Mies van der Rohe “less is more”, is today very often translated as; don’t build me another building, tell me another story.

Anna about new trends in architecture:

I believe that modern architecture should be developing alongside a new code of ethics – which includes getting rid of rigid gender roles, of any forms of violence, and accepting the rights of minors and of animals.  Being green is a form of caring.  Adaptability undoubtedly is very important as it prolongs the building’s life cycle, which means reducing the construction waste and costs for the new building.

Anna: What is unacceptable in architecture today?

In short, arrogance. Not the courage of the experiment for which there should be a place, of course, but arrogance, disregard to the interests of the citizens, including their emotions.  Why should people see every day what annoys them? Particularly unacceptable are the cases when an old building projecting historical memory, at the least, is demolished for somebody’s profit, and something else: ugly in an architectural sense and, as a rule, much larger in size, appears instead.

Xenia: What is unacceptable in architecture today?  

Every building serves as the symptom of the society. We can read the architectural landscape as an open book about ourselves. What is unacceptable for me is perhaps yes, arrogance. I would agree. We live in the era of tabula non-rasa, in the total palimpsest of meanings. Architecture as the highest degree of intelligence and intellectual awareness is certainly of a greater value today. Architecture should be able to read the story of the land, as well as to write the story. It is the degree of attentiveness that always attracts me in the building, architectural proposal, or urban planning.

Irina: Any prediction of what key issues for architecture will be in the future?

Anna: I am doubtful of any predictions as they rarely come true. I can say with some certainty that in the future reconstruction and careful adaptation of existing buildings will constitute an even greater part of an architect’s job.  I think the iconic buildings time is over. At least, there is a break in the demand for architectural attractions.

Anna Bronovitskaya