Architects and pictures

All the pictures we are constantly seeing, in some way, sculpt in our brains a way of seeing, of looking at architecture. It’s very interesting to see how little changes in the elements inside a composition turn the image into something completely different. At least, if not the message, it does change the final receiver. We just have to take an architectural magazine (a magazine for architects) and compare it to an interior design magazine, or to an advertising from any real estate agency (if you can find any, for the time being).
Leaving all this out, I find very interesting the fact that the kind of picture we architects like the most are those where the building appears as a majestic object, with no one around, or maybe one person (always blurred thanks to a slow shutter speed). Slightly overcontrasted to appreciate those textures the sunlight emphasizes at a single moment of the day (not other). Black and white pictures, distorted perspectives, selected views…
We could say that we’re trying to turn the architectural object into a fetish, in objects of desire, of unachievable beauty and perfection (you can look, but you can’t touch), making it all into some kind of pornography of construction. After all, once the photographic session is over, the building comes back to its normal life, with rain, dust and stains, poor graffiti and posters stuck to it glasses.
I think that the beauty of buildings, its physical beauty, like the one of the human body, is on those instants that only a trained eye can spot (and search) and capture them in the sensor of a camera.
It’s no good that an architect sits down in front of the computer thinking of the picture he will take from his building once finished, but honestly I don’t think anyone can say that when thinking of the volumes of the Project, doesn’t have a picture in mind to try and match. Amongst other things, because it woul be absurd, and the projecting process would be impossible.
Architecture is always image of itself. Every architecture is watched, and so I think that the visual element is a fundamental part of the project. Not that it is the only one, like some do. That’s why I try no to do easy criticism on architectures with a strong image, because sometimes prejudicing doesn’t let us see beyond the picture.
It’s no good that an architect sits down in front of the computer thinking of the picture he will take from his building once finished, but it’s no good either that the architect passes on to the next article because he sees in the picture a building that reminds him of some architect he doesn’t like…
The pictures illustrating this article are all by Juan Carlos Quindós, with whom I’ll have a conversation for CCAD in the coming weeks.


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