How to Evaluate Architecture


A 1684 depiction of Vitruvius presenting De Architectura to Augustus 

In order to evaluate the architectural qualities of a building you must first look carefully at contextual matters such as the bulding and zoning codes, the general budget per square meter of construction in that region, and most importantly the culture’s approach towards the built environment. If you are a well traveled person, and you step foot into a new country, you can attempt to understand the main spirit of the culture that you are in by generally spending lots of time outdoors, listening to the type of music they listen to, eating the food that they eat, observing the collective behavior of their taxi drivers, analyzing their religious rituals and  and most importantly looking carefully at mid-income housing footprints; if most of these buildings in the urban fabric touch each other, its safe to say that the culture is more urban oriented, if they are mostly detached buildings which don’t touch each other the culture is family oriented on an obsessive level and selfish in the sense that they don’t really care much about the commonwealth of the outside world with no defined boulevards streets and no public spaces. Since the city and its urban planning codes are extremely important for achieving contextual architecture, this is the most important thing to look at.

It’s also important to note that, there is nothing wrong with keeping family and ourselves more important than others, this is just basic human nature which we should all accept, but if people prefer their homes to have +1 points in quality in the expense of -10 points for the urban environment, than there is a problem and thats the case with detached mid income housing. If today they told me; hey man, we are going to shrink your home a little and take away 1 of your facades giving you only a south and north facade, but you are going to have nicely defined boulevards and urban spaces where you would enjoy spending time, instead of being heavily dependent on the automobile. I would accept without any hesitation.

In cities like Berlin, London, New York and Paris where the importance of commonwealth and urbanism is in the forefront, you basically need to be an idiot to fail in doing decent architecture on the global scale, because the carefully planned restraints in building and zoning codes, the budgets and general attitudes towards architecture; all assist you in achieving the art of building. In other words, everything is working with you not against you there.

I highly doubt that an accomplished western architect will build anything of intellectual substance in the lands that i work in at his first attempt unless his construction budget is on steroids, where the facades and expensive materials with expensive detailing used can overshadow the importance of culturally relevant place in architecture.

Eventhough i am well aware that i have chosen to start 0-1 in the global architectural arena with these given circumstances which i briefly touched upon above, i will continue to work here, since in essence I am a traditional and nationalistic guy who deeply loves his country and wants to improve its built environment.

So far I see some big offices in istanbul, which operate on the basis of copying the west. Whoever copies western architecture as quickly and eloquently as possible receives the top prizes in this country. And its also important to note that these big offices in istanbul did not strike me as intellectual powerhouses but more as well organized businesses which have two things on their mind: get more and bigger projects and make the buildings look attractive with western ideals of beauty. Its very obvious that with that mindset they will not be able to crack the code for creating modern Turkish-Anatolian architecture, which i have yet to see anywhere.

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