Architecture finds a need and designs a building or structure or even a community to suit it. In generations past, that has meant anything from sticking with what’s solid, dependable and works, to creating from the innovative side for something different and better. But is it really different if the only thing new about it is the lines on its face?
Experimental architecture might just be the next new era in architecture. And its face isn’t the only thing that’s different. It’s art and design, and it’s like nothing else.
The Future of Architecture is Weird
New means innovation in a way that’s different from anything that’s come before. And the future of architecture is headed in that direction.
Experimental materials such as concrete and hay are different, and they might even seem weird. but in the right environment, they also work. It worked for the Truffle Studio in Spain, where hay and concrete transformed into a studio that looks for all the world more like a rock with a cave than a building that was designed.
But that’s what good architecture does. It doesn’t introduce something traditional into a nontraditional environment, all in an effort to conform. It creates by the need and for the need, using what works best in that unique situation.
There’s No Single Definition of This Experimental Era
You can name any architectural movement and have a relatively good idea about what to expect from it. Postmodern gives you a mental image, and so does Bauhaus. There’s hardly a period, if any at all, that doesn’t do the same.
But not this new movement. Not experimental architecture. Experimental is anything. And it’s everything. It’s need-based, and it’s environmentally aware. It’s buildings on walking, hydraulic stilts that look more like something from a Star Wars movie than a research station named Halley VI in Antarctica.
Architect Marc Kushner describes this era as social media, according to Wired magazine. His theory, presumably shared by many other architects, is that “People want their buildings to be unique to a particular place and moment.”
There’s an Irony in Being Weird, Too
The theory behind experimental architecture is that nothing conforms. Nothing is the same. Every building is designed for its own unique purpose and spot on the planet. But something interesting happens when people love an idea: They want more.
When the public decided that unusual concepts and unheard of execution was great, the next step was to commercialize. But where one building is ideal for its purpose, another one just like it waters down the effect across the board.
Experimental architecture can’t be both. And there is the problem. Where inspiration is available, people will be inspired. But oftentimes, that inspiration is an attempt to recapture what made the original so special. And of course that can’t be done.
New and interesting things are on the horizon in architecture. It’s a time like no other, where the environment, social standards, the needs of a community, and sometimes even a little shock value combine to produce a building that makes you stop and think. That’s where the lines between architecture and art become blurred.
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