“We have given this academic title either to a fool or a genius. Time will show.”
So spoke the Director of the Barcelona School of Architecture of a graduate called Antoni Gaudí.
And time has shown. His Sagrada Familia has no equivalent in the history of architecture.
Mies van der Rohe, the architect of the Barcelona Pavilion and creator of the first all-glass skyscraper, was equally reviled in his career.
He was called boring, authoritarian and a destroyer of traditional values.
Yet, alongside Le Corbusier, he defined modernism more than any other architect.
When Oscar Niemeyer, architect of the city of Brasilia, was criticized for creating social alienation, he replied:
“You may not like Brasilia, but you can´t say you have seen anything like it … the ultimate task of the architect is to dream. Otherwise nothing happens”.
His creations are so beautiful they are even now used for fragrance advertisements.
Recently I had the opportunity to see several works by Tadao Ando at Chateau LaCoste near Aix-en-Provence.
In the reception centre of the Chateau, Ando creates an extraordinary experience of light and space with a vast infinity pool featuring a muscular spider sculpture by Louise Bourgeois and a geometric mobile by Alexander Calver.
Further into the reaches of the vineyard, we find more Ando sculptures … a kind of hermitage in which we can contemplate our effect on the environment … a chapel which celebrates light from the sun passing uniquely through a transparent altar … and origami benches of such clean lines that they purify the spirit.
Critics declare his work bleak and depressing but, in my opinion, they fail to see the inherent beauty in the simplicity and sleekness of his lines.
Giorgio Armani and Karl Lagerfeld declare him a genius.
And so it will always be with great architecture.
It should arouse passion, engage discussion and confirm the constant ability to create anew.
To be different.
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