Monday, 4 October 2010

Lonely perfect intruder

This melancholic box came around to check your security. You weren't home so he broke in!

So i'm gonna say it...

I propose that Zaha Hadid won the Stirling Prize because it was "her turn".

The title of the award winning building is to be one that "gives the greatest contribution to British architecture in that year". Initially I can't see how many foreign projects can have a vivid impact on the state of play back on this island, and results in the reading of the project through plans and a limited number of choreographed photos. I ask how much influence can that have on a young student or the average architect flicking through pages of the Architects Journal? Or whether it produces a valuable influence beyond the visual treat that can be used to foster seeds of thought back in Britain? Without visiting I would judge that it's not her best stirling entry, her transformative and directional formality I thought married to the BMW factory programme with effortless cooperation, but that it might be the last of her buildings completed in the heavy, shifting rectilinear family as the newer fluid methods have gained favour in her office.

Evidently Zaha thrives in our ocular-centric culture and she has been met warmly by an artistic community that see a tangible riot of expression in her forms that stir more in some people than the subtle wit of dutch rationalist brick details. My eyes are still swayed, but I find more interest in her small scale items. Their purity of her language shines and overrides my distaste for the ostentation of superfluous gestures and at times vapid programmes. Who knows what it teaches us that the most important building of the year is devoted to a collection that has yet to be even set into gestation. This is still an artefact of an era where high art and it's gestures are held in the highest regard, able to disregard social agendas, urban contexts and the boundaries of economic means.

A very closed circle appears to be taking shape in amongst the upper echelons of the architectural crowd. With awards, jury positions, serpentine pavilions and curation roles swapping to and fro like classroom notes amongst friends. This isn't to denounce their talent, my question is to ask whether that talent is so concentrated within the pool of the worlds young and established practitioners?

Amanda Bailieu belated in her blog the lack of overt voting or discussion between the judges or infact anyone in the programme featured on the BBC. Would it be the worst thing in the world to have an argument on TV? Where are the caricatures? Architecture is big enough to have violent opposing sides! There are heated critiques and debates in the colleges across the country yet there is polite fence sitting at the top? Do we need to invite Will Alsop to get things stirred up?