new find: Reyner Banham

Leafing through Oppositions 7, I find Kenneth Frampton’s review of Reyner Banham’s “well-tempered environment”. Embarrassingly, I have been largely ignorant of his writings, only knowing the name and the well-circulated bubble image.

It seems Banham was preoccupied with laying out largely the same anti-art case that I have been gravitating towards lately: All the aspects of architecture as laid out by Vitruvius are nowadays better handled by experts outside our profession: Firmness, by structural engineers; Commodity, by mechanical and electric engineers; and Delight, by interior decorators, product designers, and artists.

I think this is an indisputable fact and has been so since perhaps the renaissance, certainly since the industrial revolution.

The only role left to play for Architects, as shown by Tafuri in Architecture and Utopia, for example, is to keep up a progressive facade to our reactionary society.

Perhaps it could be said that architecture ended after Middle Ages and since then has been in an extended after-life; after Banham this continued simulation can not plead innocence by ignorance.

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