Niemeyer and Contemporary Architecture

Farès el-Dahdah 

In 1971, Charles Jencks published a book of predictions entitled Architecture 2000, wherein Oscar Niemeyer is situated in a trajectory that leads to what was then termed ‘biomorphic architecture’. When the book was reedited in 2000, Jencks populated the term ‘biomorphic’ with the work of such contemporary architectural firms as Greg Lynn Form, NOX, dECOI Architects and UNStudio. These firms were recently grouped together again in an exhibition, entitled ‘Architectures Non Standard’, at the Georges Pompidou Center in Paris. Eight other architectural practices were also included in the exhibition and all twelve firms represent together an emerging generation of numeri-cally generated architectural work. Latent in all the exhibited projects, is an early modernist desire to redefine the domain of industrial production in architecture. This is best expressed in the way each of these projects attempted to dissolve the connection between massproduction and standardization, abolishing thereby the usual opposition between two traditional elements found in the construction of buildings, i.e., the ‘standard’and the ‘exception’. Once this opposition has been abolished (due to a fluid relationship between design and manufacturing), buildings can from then on be entirely constructed out of exceptional (i.e., ‘non standard’) elements, all different in shape and free from the economic restriction which once imposed the reliance on standards... [+]

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