Allegory in Architecture

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“Frank, why you design your house like this ?”
“because I like it”
“so you don’t like my project”
“I don’t like it”
“so why you worked on that project”
“because I did it for living”
“you shouldn’t do that then”
“yes, I won’t do that anymore”

that was a concise transcript from the interview of Frank Gehry, in a book by Barbara Isenberg. After that situation, the client left Gehry, and Gehry was terrified for his future, how he would pay his staff without his client. He had difficulty to explain his ideals to the clients, and the clients did not value his design approach. It turned out that Gehry was okay, and the client was okay. Gehry finaly built, Bilbao, and finaly he designed Louis Vuitton Foundation. The client was even more successful, it was happy ending story.

I have another story in just past month.

“The design of the building is below my criteria, this is not sustainable building.”

One time, one man who was the coordinator said it in my first meeting with him . At that time, I was wondering why did he said that, did he know the design intent from the beginning ? did he know the value that was extracted during meeting with clients ? I was angry and argued, that the building is sustainable, and we have got the design approach right from the beginning.

after our explanation, he just noticed that he didn’t get the latest drawing done by us, what he got is the latest drawing done by the previous consultant. I was angry and sounded quite hard, because of the judgement from him without further analysis. I think this is always happened, to get the judgement by its cover. This is problem when people has difficulty to know architect’s intent. I felt sorry because I kind of angry and the situation was not to comfortable for both of us.

Louis Kahn contemplated a romantic picture when he designed the Salk Insitute in California. Scientist would walk up and down between the laboratory building and the plazal the would engage in heated debates about the problems of the world; they would pause to “chalk an equation or draw a diagram” on the slabs of slate that Kahn had placed there for their convenienve. But as Arthur Danto has observed that no bodey was ever there nobode but architectural touris. Kahn was almost hopeless in his romanticicsm, hoped people would rist the the architecture but rarely did or do. [1]

Ironically in architecture without architects, Rudofsky discussed that architecture is not made or designed by individuals or groups intentionally to produce meaning. It happens in Parc de la villete in Paris that the meaning is understandable only if people, through text and narrative know how is understandable by public. This is our home work to explain our idea to the other people other than architect. After that the narrative will come alive as what it was designed. If we have enough experience, the allegory will be decreased if we are more sensitive,of maybe even increased if we lack of information, and disrespect to the other.

The last part is all about alchemy with other people, which proves that my experience with the project management is a process to face other, to explain the architecture, to be patience with the gab of knowledge, to be patience with the judgement, because sometimes it’s just happen in the wrong timing, and wrong place, made by future friends, a fragment of happy ending. I just remember piece by Jaya Suprana played by Priscilla Yosephanie. The title of the piece is Fragmen.

[1] Danto, Arthur. Philosophizing Art : Selected Essays, Berkeley : University of California Press.
[2] Rudofsky, Bernard, Architecture without architect.

Oleh Realrich Sjarief

Founder of RAW Architecture

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