Topic for Debate
choosing a lesser evil - bad craftsmenship / mundane architecture
This is to seek your opinions on a dilemma that has been in my mind for some time now. I have been working with a firm in delhi for over two years now. I feel that in our present economical scenario, it is hard to find good consultants and project team for a small or medium sized project.

In such situations, though it is seductive to design miesian details and become hedonistic about execution of building, it is appalling to see the quality of work achieved if the project team does not take as much care with the project. Every project after all is based on team work and it is foolish in my mind to think otherwise.

I therefore feel along with my colleagues that It may be a good idea in such a context to design buildings with a robust theme with achievable detailing techniques in view of team constraints. The elegant craftsmen like quality may be desirable but it is quite a mirage from my experience.

Though I would love to work with more elegant and experimental design schemes, It seem difficult to do so without proper backup. I seek suggestions on how to combat this and take it forward. Ideally there should not exist such differences but well...they just do.

This is a personal viewpoint and I do expect suggestions and strategies opposing/ different from this.Feel free to contribute your thoughts.
Abhishek Mathur
choosing a lesser evil - bad craftsmenship / mundane architecture
Abhishek, The gap between design and execution of the design is something which certainly causes problems.

If the production and installation techniques for one-off designs are not properly taught and then properly done by the workforce there can be serious and potentially lethal results.

For example, in the late 1960s, there was a gas explosion at Ronan Point (a high-rise block of flats built in London) and a quarter of the flats collapsed with injury and loss of life. The reason for the collapse was that the slabs of concrete used to build the block like a pack of cards were not properly anchored together.

Furthermore, even today, blocks of high-rise flats built about that time are known for bits of concrete falling off, again because the construction was not done properly and as time goes by the building fabric deteriorates.
Frank John Snelling
choosing a lesser evil - bad craftsmenship / mundane architecture
Misery loves company, I suppose. While I'm sorry to hear that you share this problem, I confess to feeling comforted that another toiler half a world away shares my pain. The problem may not be universal, but here in the southeastern US I regularly face the problem of having to dumb-down my details. And here it isn't just a question of Miesian details. I have recently decided to avoid the use of brick whenever I can because the level of masonry craft has sunk so low.

Of course, if your projects' budgets are large enough and your schedules forgiving enough, craftsmen can be had. But time and money are not quantities my jobs often have too much of.

The strength of various crafts will obviously vary greatly from region to region, but as for high modernist detailing, I have only seen it done consummately well in one place: Germany. I had something of an epiphany a few years ago on a trip to Germany, when it finally dawned on me why so many modernist buildings in my country were so banal. The difference between an ordinary modern building in Germany and one in the US was almost exactly the difference between a Mercedes and a Chevrolet. German industrial culture -- the culture that spawned Mies and the Bauhaus and all the rest -- simply has a depth and breadth that ours does not. Standards and expectations can be higher because there is a broad cultural commitment to training industrial workers and maintaining the highest manufacturing standards. We do all right here, but with very few exceptions we don't require the sort of exactitude in design and manufacturing that the Germans do. And when it comes down to the most minimalist of modern architecture, precision of craft is everything. Folks here just don't "get" it, and so most of our modern buildings lack the spirit that Modernism's founders sought to imbue.

Ah, well...
Jonathan McLelland
choosing a lesser evil - bad craftsmenship / mundane architecture
Jonathan, Interesting comment about the lack of masonary skills in the USA. I am not really surprised, given that a great many houses in America are woodframe with wood cladding, even if the cladding is rendered to look like stone or brickwork.

Brick built houses are the norm in the UK, given that quite a lot of what was once brickwork is now by blockwork. As for the precision of German craftsmen, when I was in Berlin in 1989 I was appalled to see extremely rough and poor quality brickwork on buildings that had been built well before WW2 and then suffered damage in WW2.
Frank John Snelling


This site is adjusted only for landscape mode. Please rotate your device for properly using
We are sorry, we are still working on adjusting for Metro IE. Please use another browser for the best experience with our site.