Does Architecture Get Affected In A Populist Age?

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    Architecture Architecture Mar 20, 2017 03:43 PM EDT


    Votes for Trump and Brexit suggest a new era of populism, but how will this filter down into the design of the built environment and architecture?

    Currently, there appears to be a new populism in architecture. It does seem to have a link with elites all over the world. There also seems to be a trend opposed to globalization as well as "neo-liberal economics." Will architecture really "filter down into the design of the built environment," asks Paul Finch, editorial director of  Architect's Journal. 

    He was speaking at an event that involved publishing the most recent book compiling various ideas and concepts related to architecture. The book, titled 'Traditional Building,' explains that architecture might get changed due to global phenomena such as Brexit or Trumpism.

    Hence, even though the International Style is over, according to him, he hopes that 'traditional architecture', or Classicism would make an entry. He also hopes that it would be aware of disenchantment with internationalism and globalization, indicating the rise of localization.

    Hence, would Trump's building style, reflecting a "bombastic Postmodernism and gold leaf" architecture become the new style, replacing the "polite Classicism of Thomas Jefferson?" It throws up a lot of questions about "populist" as opposed to "popular" styles - the dividing lines of which are difficult to pinpoint. The lines that have been easier to identify are present in EUR district that is located south of central Rome, or Las Vegas. The architectural styles here have been put up by rich and powerful members that have impressed many members of the population.

    Popular architecture is important because it offers "an alternative model in which innovation is achieved through the active participation of all parties," according to Studio Wikitechture. 

    If you look at classical architecture, you will find it popular among the people mainly when it got adapted to "vernacular use," in houses. However, people feel that popular architecture is not really transmittable because the traditional designs are not being taught.

    How popular is 'contemporary' architecture, which is related more to Modern rather than Classical traditions? Looking at the lines before the Gherkin on Open House weekend, the Shard and the numbers of visitors to the Walkie-Talkie, you realize that contemporary architecture is preferred.

    However, is it really true that today's architecture cannot deliver what the public desires, all because of faulty teaching? Doesn't that suggest that architects are unaware of their markets? That is a strange concept, as house builders and architects need to be aware of their markets.

    The late Philip Dowson, patrician, Gold Medallist and Royal Academy president said in a debate related to the Architecture Club, that popularity indicating "good" ideas is really like saying that "'100,000 lemmings can't be wrong".

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