Now available: OASE 90. What Is Good Architecture?
Many problems in today’s architecture world would vanish if every once in a while it was clearer what is meant by good architecture. The ‘crisis of criticism’, for instance, is a symptom – seldom recognised as such – of the impossibility of knowing (or daring to know) what good architecture is. The assumption, critical in itself (and certainly useful), that each architecture project has to be judged anew each time has led everyone to unquestioningly assume that there is no values model for architecture. It has also ensured that the last models for evaluating architecture (modernism and postmodernism) are been followed merely by perversions (supermodernism, retromodernism, etcetera) or by ideals made into science (sustainability, mathematical models and regionalism).
Nevertheless, it is impossible to work with architecture – in design, theory or history – without making assumptions about criteria for quality. Just because a unique values model no longer exists does not mean that different values models cannot exist side by side. This issue of OASE uncovers and makes explicit the assumptions underlying these models, by posing the simple question ‘What is good architecture?’ in different ways and have it answered by people whose ‘main occupation’ is architecture.
Of course the question of good architecture cannot be answered unequivocally and definitively. But simply because a question is certain to have an infinite number of answers does not mean it should not be asked. This issue of OASE can be like a banquet at which each guest selects something entirely different from the menu in a well-reasoned and forthright way – and so keeps the architecture party going.
With contributions by Pier Vittorio Aureli, Patrick Bouchain, Kersten Geers, Christophe van Gerrewey, Herman Hertzberger, Steven Holl, Anne Holtrop, Lucien Kroll, Andrew Leach, Philippe Morel, Steve Parnell, Bob van Reeth, Eva le Roi, Elsbeth Ronner, Bart Verschaffel