This blog has been entirely bereft of architecture posts for months. Why the dry spell? I haven’t seen much worth mentioning. The endless insensitive regurgitation of 20th century modernism doesn’t do it. Nor does the egomania of international celebrity architects who rode the wave of wacky overspending that brought us such nightmares as Dubai’s alien cityscape and freakish so-called “design hotels” that amount to little more than houses of horrors. In residential architecture, particularly for tropical second homes and resorts, the gratuitous use of all manner of gimmicks and gewgaws just makes me feel anxious. Or nauseous.
I’ve been looking for contemporary architecture that manifests deep beauty, not superficial stylishness or irrelevant grand gestures. Buildings that fulfull their function elegantly, with forms that follow from that. Buildings with harmonious proportion, balanced placement of solid and void, legible spaces with palpable meaning . . . and all that other good stuff that we know makes buildings more than the sum of a bunch of parts. Well, I found some examples of the kind of magic I’m talking about here. Don’t ask, “WHERE is this great architecture?” Instead say, “wHY . . . IS this great architecture!”
That little “w” is no typo. I’m referring to wHY, an LA-based practice, which has woven together the talents of one Thai, one Japanese and one American partner into a talented triumvirate that makes some of the most relevant and beautiful buildings I’ve seen in dog’s ages.
Where restraint is called for, we have restraint. Where exuberance is appropriate, there it is. And all is manifested without a hint of ego, and why should ego be involved? No individual’s desire to make a splash could ever be more important than the ideals of humanism that inform great architecture. And the lifespan of any individual ego is insignificant in comparison to the lifespan of a well-built, beautiful building.
I could easily wax poetic for pages, but will let the images speak instead. Just one footnote. wHY’s Thai partner, Kulapat Yantrasast has a M.Arch. and PhD from Tokyo. The Japanese partner, Yo-ichiro Hakamori’s M.Arch. is from UCLA (!) and his PhD from Tokyo. And wHY’s American partner, hails from RISD and UCLA. What a marvelous mix. Mix it up, I say.
Images © 2009 wHY Architecture