Ellis Woodman- Executive Editor
When large-scale architectural projects fail economically, how much is the design to blame?
In a week in which we review the lone housing block to have been realised within Will Alsop’s decade-old masterplan for Middlehaven, news arrives that the board of Zaha Hadid’s Stirling Prize winning Maxxi has been placed into administration.
These projects are far from the only victims of the current economic downturn, but given the scale of their architectural ambitions, their fate feels particularly bleak. Like Shelley’s traveller from an antique land surveying Ozymandias’ wreck, we can only look at Fat’s wasteland-engulfed building in the knowledge that it is a remnant of a long-gone, bolder age.
How much of the blame for these schemes’ problems can be attributed to their designs? It is an awkward question but one that can’t be avoided if we want to understand how architecture might genuinely contribute to projects of urban regeneration.
From Sanaa’s quickly closed Zollverein School of Management and Design to Peter Eisenman’s wildly overscaled and overbudget City of Culture at Santiago de Compostela, one can think of all too many recent high-profile buildings that were revealed as hungry white elephants once their moment in the spotlight had passed. Failures on that scale can blight communities’ lives for decades.
Let us have an architecture that is bold and adventurous, by all means, but one that is lifelike too.
12 July 2012
25 April 2012
24 April 2012