Pointless Pointy Tops

June 17, 2010

This post feeds the brain a little.  Without getting too deep into this, I am going to try and talk about my feelings on it, because it really questions alot of underlying psychological states we have towards everything we create and feel towards our surrounding environment and I don’t particuarly want to get into all that because we might be here for a while.  In a nutshell, the post describes the trend known as the Bilbao effect, which essentially throws away the snake-eating-it’s-own-tail, well-known and (possibly..) overused Ouroboros of ‘Form and Function’ which we as humans seem to apply to everything we design (regardless of whether something is functional or not, we demand the question if something has a form then what is it’s function?!  If something has a function, how will it be formed?!).

Loved and hated, this pattern-breaking trend appeared to have a purpose – to grab attention and promote cities, corporations and insitutions with the use of eye-catching designs, random angles and curves and ‘pointless pointy tops’ – essentially, this effect was formed on the basis that these ideas and designs had no real function except to be noticed.  However, the beginning of the recession showed a slow down in these designs and more functional, clean ideas began cropping up for buildings (spot a trend yet?) – more functional, clean designs allow architects to budget better, costing less.  The idea is to utilise space for efficient use, rather than developing a 14 foot petrusion from the third floor made from disco balls because it reflects light and makes people want to look at it for a bit, the idea of clean cut, smooth, ‘cool’ designs is far better for practical use, and though the Bilbao effect designs are fascinating and works of art in their own right, it probably did get a bit ridiculous.

The image of reflective buildings with interesting curves, extreme angles and textures that suddenly break the pattern and provide us with some randomness is forever implanted in my head when I think of cities in the first decade of the New Millenia, but perhaps the new trend of effective, clean development of buildings will be the view of the future.  We must give thanks to the Bilbao Effect however, for showing us the effectiveness that taking ideas to the next level instead of following the same old Ouroboros, inspires and imprints on the human psyche and has carved into architectual design for the future.

“I don’t think we will see in our lifetime another era where both private and public clients are so willing to engage in architectural innovation,” – Alejandro Zaera-Polo

Rolex Learning Centre. Cool, clean, tranquil - "a curved slab with a lot of compression forces" - Manfred Grohmann

An example of the Bilbao Effect (the flagship design) - the overwhelming but unmistakably beautiful Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao

A fantastic video on efficient design in a tiny, tiny space! http://www.noob.us/miscellaneous/24-rooms-packed-into-one-tiny-room/ fascinating video – thanks @Astraeus1