Archive for Tháng Mười, 2007

II. Wall

Why concrete all the times? Why the word “wall” would just simply be visualized in one’s mind as a strip made of brick or concrete which puts a definite boundary between two spaces? And to allow for light and air through a wall means to cut a hole in it and install a “window”?

With modernistic architecture, you’re seeing walls of this kind in Europe. You’re seeing them in Africa, in Asia, in America.  Certainly they can tell something about the climate over there, you bet.

But just look back into architecture of our ancestors, you’d see an extensive diversity of what functioned as a wall. In Africa, walls were made of mud – which helped cool the interior temperature in hot summer. Mud walls – with mud put on a skeleton of bamboo – were built also in Central Vietnam, where they also kept the inner-room warm in the cold and wet winter.  In traditional houses in Central and North Vietnam (“nha ruong Hue”, for example), a high proportion of “walls” were wooden frames which allowed for breezes to get inside. A great so many examples can be found in different regions in the world.

I see conventional walls made of brick or concrete as a kind of “single-layer” wall, which serves a single function. No, not that simple. Architecture is for the man, and it is his nature that man changes throughout the time. He has the right not to be “disabled” each time he wants changes. A house to a man is a place, not only a space, where one can feel at ease, being himself, where one enjoys the comfort regardless of the harsh weather outside and still has a sense of exchange with the environment, where one should feel safe and free from worries.

Le Corbusier has always been one of the greatest architect on earth; and Modernism must be the most influential doctrine since the Renaissance. With Modernism architecture found and revealed its end as to serve the function of space in the purest form. And what the world has got then were blocks of buildings built in a great many cities and never specific to the place they stood. Blocks of flats were rejected by their inhabitants, with no man’s interstitial land. The urbanism of those urban areas, a nightmare of Le Corbusier’s “La Ville Radieuse”,  must have been haunting him so much that this great architect has come to the conclusion at the end of his life:

“La vie a raison, l’architecture a tort.” (Life is right, architecture is wrong).