Politics of ugly buildings: New book looks at disputes that shaped UK


EXCERPT: . . . So for Prince Charles, debates over architecture have spilled into questions of political power. But as [Timothy] Hyde explores in a new book, “Ugliness and Judgment: On Architecture in the Public Eye,” published by Princeton University Press, this is hardly unique. In Britain alone, Hyde notes, controversies specifically over the “ugliness” of buildings have shaped matters from libel law to environmental policy. “Aesthetic arguments about ugliness have often served to tie architectural thinking to other kinds of debates and questions in parallel spheres of social and cultural production — things like science, law, professionalism,” Hyde says. “Debates about ugliness are very easily legible as debates about politics.”

The impetus for the book, says Hyde, an architectural historian, came partly from the sheer number of people who have commented about “ugly” buildings to him. “It’s the frequency of that phrase, ‘What an ugly building,’ that really piqued my curiosity about ugliness,” Hyde says. “Ugliness is an undertheorized dimension of architecture, given how common that critique is,” he adds. “People always think buildings are ugly. Particularly as a historian of modern architecture, I encounter any number of people who say ‘Oh, you’re a modern architectural historian, can you explain, why would an architect ever think to do a building like that?’”

Hyde’s book, however, is not simply about aesthetics. Instead, as he soon noticed, disputes centered around “ugly” buildings have a way of leaping into other domains of life. Consider libel laws. In ... the 19th century ... architect Sir John Soane filed a long series of libel cases against critics, which led to the larger evolution of the law. [...] Or take environmental policy, which gained traction in Britain due to concerns about the aesthetics of the Houses of Parliament...

[...] “Ugliness and Judgment” has received praise from other architectural historians. Daniel M. Abramson, a professor of architecture at Boston University, calls it “a superb piece of scholarship, opening up new ways, through the lens of ugliness, to understand and connect a whole range of canonical figures, buildings, and themes.” (MORE)
(May 25, 2019 06:10 PM)Magical Realist Wrote: 15 Ugly Buildings from around the world..


From a distance, The National Library of Kosovo looks like some kind of oriental prison surrounded by barb-wire structures. Not exactly a safe, inviting appearance to visit for "accessing the documentary and intellectual heritage" of that disputed territory.

Quote:. . . the distinctive windows on the Scottish Parliament Building in Edinburgh are unique, to say the least, but these unnecessary decorative flourishes are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the building’s problems. Since it was built in 2004, Scottish taxpayers have spent over $16 million to maintain and repair it, as pieces keep falling off inside and out.

Before they are built, that should be a chief concern with regard to most of these offbeat edifices decorated with vagarious architectural bling. How often is the latter inutile crap going to be falling off or eroding? Will they be as costly and time-devouring as high-maintenance spouses?

Possibly Related Threads…
Thread Author Replies Views Last Post
  Buildings of Brutalism are beautiful + Medieval graffiti designs expose the past C C 0 464 Jun 16, 2016 05:58 AM
Last Post: C C
  Most magnificent state capitol buildings Magical Realist 1 1,728 Feb 4, 2016 07:30 AM
Last Post: C C
  Baroque and Broken: Eerie Paintings in Abandoned Buildings C C 0 465 Jul 24, 2015 04:29 AM
Last Post: C C

Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)