Léon Krier, the architectural theorist and master planner of Prince Charles’s new town of Poundbury and of Guatemala’s new town of Cayala, commented on my recent blog post “Före och efter lådmodernism” (“Before and after box modernism”). Krier refers to Arkitekturupproret, a website involved in Sweden’s resistance to modern architecture. (The site’s title translates into “Architecture Uprising”; hit the site’s “translate” button if you read English.
Then, after discussing the primary differences among hypocrisy types, Krier laments the destruction of his home city of Luxembourg, and the appalling aesthetic blindness of its mayor. Referring to the twin before and after photos of Stockholm in my post, which originated at the Swedish website and displayed the brutality of the difference between traditional and modernist urbanism, Krier writes:
This kind of lament has been published for most cities and towns in the world. Arkitekturupproret demonstrates the growing upheaval of the in-born aesthetic sense and judgment of humans against its desensitisation through modernist brainwashing, spread via education.
Hypocrisy in matters of ethics is fundamental in maintaining good manners and peace in the routine relations and economy between individuals, families, nations, and societies in general. Hypocrisy in matters of aesthetics, however, has led to the worldwide destruction of aesthetic culture in architecture, urbanism and the fine arts since World War II.
This novel form of hypocrisy does not, in fact, alter personal judgment but the individual’s expression of it. That is why you hear educated people say, ”I don’t like that prize-winning building” or “that contemporary art object, but then I am no expert.” As if you had to be an expert to know what woman to love or what landscape to like!
The peak of perversion in the field was reached when Lydie Polver, the mayor of Luxembourg, introduced the four-volume lamento on the destruction of my once beautiful hometown, stating that the before/after illustrations demonstrated that Luxembourg had gained in beauty by its modern(ist) redevelopments.
Following his reply to my post, Krier sent a couple of photographs of recent developments in Cayala, the new traditional town outside of Guatemala City that has turned out to be very popular. But its popularity has generated further development, not always entirely positive. He writes:
In Cayala, construction has started for another 30 palacitos in the Lirios quarter. The very success of the project unfortunately drives the numbers of square footage and floors beyond my vernacular comfort limit. Only great classical design can now manage to save the overloaded ship. The 3 to 5 story walkable height limit is for me fundamental for building “The Good City.” It is a constitutional matter. Once that limit is violated, greed and hubris take over and become the master of a fatal (“urbicidal”) game.