Lets rewind time to April 2006, I’m on an uneasy train off to an interview at Downing College, Cambridge. I'd been in London for a few months contemplating paints and pencils as part of my art foundation at Byam Shaw. I’m preparing myself for the classic questions, “who do you aspire to”, “why architecture” etc. I’m frantically looking through this terrible book, a glorified ABC’s of the architectural world. I’m 19 and I don’t have a clue.
What stood out in this book then, I understand to be fundamental now. Clean lines (not always straight) and space. 8 years later and I can’t shake this one perfect, one genius, fundamentalist. I look to him all the time. I think about him all the time. When I drink and get chatty, I find myself reaching for my phone to prove my point, why he is so wonderful, why it matters, why I think he changed the world. I know there are/were equally adept fish in the sea and I know there’s better and more groundbreaking, but Mies van der Rohe captivated me and I’ve never really gotten over it.
I walked around his national gallery in Berlin, running my fingertips along his plastered surfaces, ignoring the art and admiring the walls - trying desperately to connect. Trying to understand why I felt so emotional in this simple, elegant gallery. I put my excitability down to the thought that one day I might make someone feel like this. I love him.
In 1968 the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin opened. The steel framed glazed pavilion sits a top the well considered, perfectly lit gallery below. Mies loved a floating building. The gallery is large and breathtaking. In spite of awareness that this building is ageing in the corners, the maturity of Mies' iconic style is prevalent, rejuvenating and, always inspiring. This is architecture standing the test of time.
My friends view Mies as modern. If Mies is modern now, what is our generation? What is modern? More importantly, who is the pioneer of our modern age? I've just finished reading an introduction about modern architecture that was published in the 1930’s. Modern then is modern now. Modernity in architecture is reflected by the technologies available. The process of architecture is assisted greatly by knowing what we can achieve and how. Peter Behrens and his turbine hall, the first modern building of our time? The sudden development and understanding of steel frames and reinforced concrete allowed modern architecture to truly begin. Behrens inspired his apprentice Mies, the way that Mies might inspire us. Or perhaps it is Behrens and Mies that inspire us? If modern architects are the now modern architects, then future of our architectural category is lost. We're losing it to the real modern pioneers, repeating the past and testing safe boundaries. We should naturally turn to what they turned to: technological availability and impeccable taste. What is our architectural era?
This post was duplicated from my less organised and less successful blog, anahitasworld
Images my own or courtesy of google