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Glass Buildings and the death of Cultural Contextualism

September 13, 2012

Emily D’Alterio asks “Is ‘Zombie Building’ Trend Ruining Our Cities?“:

According to Australia’s top architect, the national built environment is at risk of losing any form of substance or cultural contextualisation.

D’Alterio cites Lawrence Nield who blames “performance glass” for “zombie buildings”

zombie lawrence nield

a standardised aesthetic or high performance look. That look, he argues, leads these buildings to appear empty and soulless.

She also cites Gair Williamson for similar trends in Canadian architecture; “failing to look at the substance of how people inhabit buildings”.

This seems to me a larger issue beyond architecture. We are failing to see how people inhabit things. We are decontextualizing our human relationships and encasing everything behind a layer of transparent film; “an often-noisy collection of individually competing” expressions of personality.

I’m thinking about facebook and social media zombies and enjoying the suggestion that individual expression (and the competition thereof) causes the so-called zombie condition. This may seem initially contradictory but it emphasizes the trend of zombies as a protest for free expression and reinforces traditional Christian values of finding one’s own soul through community context.

It seems “performance glass” becomes metaphor for nihilism in postmodernity; a visual simulation of connected-space, that is literally performing the function of a wall (again, think facebook).

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