Future - Visions

reading responds to Mc Luhan's new environment , Banham's a house is not a home and some thinkings

Posted by carinasong1990 on May 15, 2014 at 6:55 PM

In his ‘this invisible environment: the future of an erosion’, Marshall McLuhan argues that a phase of technology will create a new environment while the environment is the container that it’s invisible unless be presented as a content in the anti-environment in the next stage. He first pointed out the imperceptibility of new environment that we are living in, and that what is perceptible is the old environment. Later he moved on to argue the essence of the new medium will be visible only when it’s presented in a new medium by suggesting that he Romantic Movement was a product and content of the mechanical age, while this is the same as how machine’s become art form when electric technology took over the mechanical world. The contents or the arts in the past can be taken as probes to explore the current anti – environment. He also proposed that the pre-electric age patterns were invisible because changes occur slowly. It is artists’, the anti-environment creators that are not brain washed, role to be aware of the way we presence the environment. He argues that we entered from the Neolithic age to Electric age where we step from the extension of human limbs to the extension of whole nervous system. He took newspaper as example, arguing that we are the producers who bridge and recreate all of the information and the effect of electric age is organic and decentralised. Also the example of xerography brings about the question of authorship, readership and the loop of creating a new environment with one phase of technology while create an anti-environment with the next.

In the further of architecture, Peter Cook examines projects that revolve around the day to day living and cultural manifestation. He requests a retrospect of interface between man and machine and the possibility that responses environment may not stop outside the body but machine responds to psychological demands that’s affected by nerve system. His discussion of machine and technology and the environment it belongs to finally lead him to a conclusion that the future of architecture lies in the explosion of architecture.

In a home is not a house, Banham argues for an all American un house that is exemplifies by the concepts of cleanliness, the light weight shell, the mechanical services, the informality and indifference to monumental architectural values, the passion for the outdoor. He first expressed a traditionally understanding of the house: a hollow shell that is an inefficient heat barrier, from which he reasserts the concept of the American domestic architecture: large single volumes wrapped in flimsy shells that needs to be lighted and hearted generously that is different from European cubicular interiors . Then he used cars and inflated airdome to illustrate his idea of non-architectural anti- building that is standard – of – living package. The environment bubble, a transparent plastic bubble dome that is inflated by air conditioning output, was described explicitly to goes against to the present trends in domestic mechanization that appear to be ever- more- flimsy. He even argues that this living style is an extension of Wright’s dream of clean countryside and the destruction of the box( which implies anti- architecture as what Banham suggests).

In architecture culture 1943-1968, the text demonstrates a strong influence by Mc Luhan’s idea of invisible technology environment. He states at the start of his essay that the environment as a whole is the goal of our activities and the extension of human body is going far through the media of its determination. Architecture is a medium to bridge human needs with the environments he creates. Technology improvements, developments in new materials and methods as well as intangible means for spatial determination will also be developed to accompany the evolution of architecture history. Ockman argues that architects must crease to think only in terms of buildings.

It seems like all the four readings are arguing for a broader discourse of architecture and trying to break the traditionally understanding of architecture (whether monumental, European international style of rigid interior partitions at the moment, the image of ranch- style house as argues in Banham’s reading) and coining the concept of ‘environment’ in a certain period of time. Both Banham and Mc Luhan mentioned about controlling environments. Do the ubiquitous ideas and experiments of inflatable structures in the 60s have something to do with this trend? ( controlling environment?) Also at the turn of electric age should we read the roles of cars, as the content of the mechanical age, in a different way? What is the content of mechanical age? Machines? Cars? Then how do we know what is the content of electric age? What about the overlapping parts?


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