July 24, 2004 18:35 | Confession / Culture

The straight line

Hundertwasser -  The 30 Day Fax Picture

Mould Manifesto against Rationalism in Architecture

In 1952 I spoke of the civilization of make believe, the one we must shake off, myself, the first of all! I spoke of columns of gray men on the march toward sterility and self destruction.

In 1953 I realized that the straight line leads to the downfall of mankind.

- Friedensreich Hundertwasser

The straight line is an aberration, abhorred by nature. It is the tool by which man imposes his designs on his environment.
Thought too logical is equally a distortion of truth. The nimble mind can easily twist and bend any thing to suit its need and desire. The ego drives this unnatural machination.

I have little regard for the minutiae of philosophers' quibbles with their own neuroses. The neat little dream boxes in which we place our lives, properly labeled and dutifully forgotten. The prison bars, the lines of text, the thoughts of other men... bind me in no nutshell.


I can drink to that!

Simply put, nature is inherently chaotic; we attack nature by trying to impose our idea of "order" on it. We invariably end up losing.

But as for the manifesto, there are a few parts I have to wonder about...

There is a certain risk that such a fantastic sort of amateur construction might collapse, but we shouldnot be afraid of the human sacrifice that this new style of construction might engender.

Double-U Tee Eff?

It seems the further we are able to mimic natural materials (aircraft struts designed like birds' with hollow bones, chitinous shells and coatings, carbon fiber as strong as diamond, synthetic spider silk as strong as steel) the more we will see design mimicking the natural world as well. There is a natural-design line that goes from Frank Lloyd Wright to Christopher Alexander to people like Eugene Tsui and Santiago Calatrava. Right now they are largely emulating the forms, and only occasionally the systems of nature - the strategies used by organisms for energy regulation, etc, such as building to take best advantage of earth berms, green roofs etc. It's literally dirt-simple stuff.

Future buildings will be more like trees (maybe, with genetic engineering, they literally will _be_ trees) - self-repairing, auto-temperature-regulating through the differential between ground and air, even furnishing their inhabitants with sugars and fresh water. In such a context, cities will be like forests, creating their own macro and microclimates...

And not to pimp my own blog, but it ain't gonna happen until more architects get their heads out of 'starchitecture' and more into the ground (literally) -- starting with their websites, maybe.

i remember seeing a documentary about an autistic woman who redesigned the way cows were lined up at slaughter farms. apparently, if they were arranged in a straight line, they become panicky, distraught and refuse to enter the pen, if they were arranged in a more circular fashion (like the golden ram, like the water running down the drain), they instantly become more calm and co-operative.

then there's the example of people preferring (if they had the time) to take the backroads that weave and wander through the countryside than to take the highway which would cut a linear slash through the landscape.