The what and the why of your thinking about buildings …
Here’s a question for you: what do you think about the buildings and-what-have-you in Caversham and Emmer Green? (By ‘what-have-you’, I mean all the other ‘built things’ architects are responsible for, from shopping centres to urban landscapes, ‘green’ designs and so on.) And out of all of it, what do you think is any good?
This was a train of thought that came to mind when I was out walking the other day. I mean, one way or another we’re surrounded by the work of architects.
Obviously, there’s a purely personal element to this – how a place looks to you personally. You might think grand Victorian buildings are ‘good’ whereas your friend has a soft spot for 50s and 60s Brutalism.
Maybe there’ll be some practical aspects your thinking about somewhere or something you’re looking at. Is it practical for what it was intended for? Big enough? Well situated? That sort of thing …
I suppose you can think of all this in terms of the ‘eyes’ you are seeing something with. Those of an architect, art critic, potential home buyer, home owner, office manager, factory owner and whatever else. Each would probably see things quite differently from one another.
And everyone’s eyes have been informed by general experience, by what I think of as the ‘background culture’ that someone lives in. Everyone has a personal context. And that doesn’t have to be stuff you’re consciously aware of or have actively decided to take on board. Indeed, if you ponder it, it’s quite sobering to realise that an awful lot of what we think has arrived in our minds uninvited.
All in all, it escalates into a chunky task to review everything that goes in to why you think what you think. And there’s even more effort required to work out whether how you view your surroundings actually matters.
I’ll return to this question of whether is matters another day. In the meantime, it might be interesting (if nothing else) for you, too, to review both what you think about the architecture to be seen in Caversham and Emmer Green and why you think it.
As a footnote, this reasonably old bus shelter (below) on the Henley Road serves to emphasise how awfully dull the more common glass and steel efforts are. Too often, modern ones seemed to have been primarily designed to carry adverts. There’s little sign of much effort having gone in to their design other than whatever was required to meet that basic function. Surely, it doesn’t have to be this way.