Category Archives: architecture schools

Bullies to the poor and toadies to the rich

Dalrymple writes that

the great figures of architectural modernism—great in the scope and degree of their baleful influence, not in æsthetic merit—were from the first totalitarian in spirit.

They were

toadies to the rich and bullies to the poor; and they were communists and fascists (not in the merely metaphorical sense, either).

He explains that by a mixture of

ardent self-promotion, bureaucratic scheming, and intellectual terrorism

these totalitarians

managed to gain virtual control of the world’s schools of architecture. (How, incidentally, were the world’s most beautiful cities and buildings erected without the aid of architectural schools?)

An incompetent architect and an outright fascist

Just see how far you get up the academic ladder in a French school of architecture, writes Dalrymple, if you state what is perfectly obvious, that Le Corbusier

  • was not a genius except in self-advertisement
  • held repugnant fascist views
  • regarded humans in his cities much as we regard bedbugs
  • suggested during the Occupation that millions of people be deported from Paris because he thought they had no business being there
  • drew up designs that were incompetent
  • produced constructions that were instinct with and the embodiment of his odious ideas

Grotesque architectural incompetence: High Court of Punjab and Haryana, Chandigarh. Le Corbusier 1952-55

As flatulent and inconsequential as a Trump speech

Dalrymple on modern architectural prose, as demonstrated by the Yale architecture school

Dalrymple examines an invitation from the school to a symposium. The text — a word salad — has certain qualities that, he points out, apply to academics of one kind or another. It is

  • footling
  • pretentious
  • shallow
  • Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 09.39.25self-regarding
  • narcissistic
  • fraudulent
  • pseudo-intellectual
  • unintelligible
  • complacent
  • self-deceptive
  • trivial
  • time-wasting
  • self-satisfied
  • boastful
  • parasitic
  • pointless
  • irrelevant
  • inconsequential
  • bogus
  • fatuous
  • lazy
  • vacuous
  • vacant
  • vain
  • preening
  • smug
  • worthless
  • preposterous
  • idiotic
  • contentless
  • solemn
  • humourless
  • mind-numbing
  • boring
  • dull
  • insincere
  • inane
  • vapid
  • self-referential
  • fake
  • empty
  • hollow
  • phony
  • aimless
  • half-baked
  • strained
  • artificial
  • asinine
  • stupid
  • self-conscious
  • sententious
  • prim
  • priggish
  • self-congratulatory
  • sanctimonious
  • pious
  • condescending
  • conceited
  • supercilious
  • snobbish
  • superior
  • pompous
  • arrogant
  • unself-critical
  • shameless
  • feeble
  • trite
  • uninteresting
  • self-indulgent
  • dreary
  • insipid
  • tedious
  • lame
  • impoverished
  • futile
  • barren
  • idle
  • platitudinous
  • clichéd
  • wanton
  • capricious
  • trifling
  • superficial
  • self-important
  • pallid
  • prosaic
  • evasive
  • lifeless
  • prolix
  • dishonest
  • self-advertising
  • pussyfooting
  • cowardly
  • non-committal
  • slippery
  • slimy
  • turgid
  • affected
  • contrived
  • vainglorious
  • grandiose

And that, he says, is

only to begin with.

Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 09.30.23

Keep your enmities in good repair

Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 07.25.25Dalrymple does so by visiting a Le Corbusier exhibition at the Centre Georges Pompidou. He writes:

I can hardly think of a figure worthier of hatred than Le Corbusier, still hero-worshipped in French architectural schools.

A few of the French, he notes, have — too late — woken up to the fact that

Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 07.36.09Corbusier was a fascist, not in the debased 1968 sense of the word, but in the boot-in-the-face 1938 sense of it. A page of his writing, or a glance at his plans for the Ville Radieuse, should have been sufficient to convince anybody of it.

Radiant

It radiates totalitarianism