Much too Much? – door Peter Smisek

 

I don’t know much about classical music. My knowledge of Mozart’s life and work is based mainly on the motion picture Amadeus, whose historical accuracy is questionable at best. Neverthe- less, one of my favourite scenes of the film has always been the critique given to Mozart by the Austrian Emperor.

“Too many notes. There are only so many notes one can hear in an evening, and your piece had too many.”

“Too many notes.” Complexity and richness trivialized and dismissed as counter-productive, frivolous and wasteful. “Too many ideas.” A belief that a piece of work is only as valuable as the initial concept which, when formulated at the beginning of the design process, might as well be pulled out of a magician’s hat. It betrays a belief in nuanced, subtle and possibly understated architecture and displays an uneasy union between the modernism and post-modernism: architecture can only affect us when what it’s trying to tell is obvious. It’s an idea that tries to reduce creative activity to witty, smart one-liners, which make you think for a moment or two, but are ultimately as disposable as the paper cups at the Espresso bar. (Funnily enough, some startchitects’ one liners tend to stick with us for far longer than paper cups, like plastic they take an eternity to decompose.)

Some startchitects’ one liners tend to stick with us for far longer than paper cups, like plastic they take an eternity to decompose.

Most of architecture students aren’t child prodigies who composed their first opera at the age of fourteen (or designed their first opera house at that age) and most of our critics (at least within our faculty), know more about architecture than the Austrian Emperor knew about music. That is my sincere hope anyway.

I’m not saying we don’t need a leitmotief. We need good concepts more than ever to structure our work. But having one just one note, on its own, unaccompanied, gets a little boring after a while. Be subtle, be clear, be clever and remember: you can never have enough good ideas.

Peter Smisek 

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