Saturday, October 02, 2010

Little brick schoolhouse


Rectilinear
London, ON, May 2009

Buildings built for public service, like this school here, aren't known for being architectural wonders. For the most part, they're built-to-a-price boxes that serve the purpose for which they were designed. They're virtually all alike, and in their relentless sameness, they lack the ability to inspire.

That's the conventional view, anyway. And it's that conventional view that results in no one ever giving these buildings a second glance. It's a perspective that conditions us to simply accept that we'll never find anything worth remembering here. So we don't take the time.

That, my friends, would be a mistake. Because the whole idea of living - at least as I understand it - involves a little envelope-pushing. Why would I join the herds standing around the latest Frank Gehry creation, for example, gawking in amazement at what he can do to a three dimensionally-curved surface?
Disclosure: I've stood gawking in front of a Gehry creation before - see here for an up close and personal view of The Experience Music Project in Seattle. The experience (ha!) was sublime, and I'll remember it always. But that doesn't mean life stops there. End tangent.
So by avoiding the non-Gehry, non-tourist-trappy, non-spectacular things, we deprive ourselves of the opportunity to tease something from nothing, to squeeze creative blood from stones that, at least initially, show no desire to give anything up.

Anyone can shoot spectacular. But can we make the mundane just as worthy of the attention of others? I'd like to think we can.

Your turn: Why do we avoid plain? Why shouldn't we?

Oh, and while you're at it: Please check into this week's Thematic. I could make some joke about being in a parallel universe, but that would be corny.

11 comments:

Tabor said...

This photo really calls to me. It seems cozy and reliable for some reason. Doesn't look at all like the schools I know and I usually hate the architecture.

Kalei's Best Friend said...

Frankly, I like plain.. Or classic as it were... "Less is more"... As far as architecture, I've always stayed away from the intricate over detailed and liked the clean lines...

Max said...

Anything would be better than the school I'm teaching at. It's an "open classroom" building that was one big square open space and now has been cut into a bunch of haphazard little cubicles of classrooms. Ironically, since it was designed without halls the retrofitted halls jut out here and there and jog to the left or right in odd places.
I don't necessarily prefer plain over intricate, it's more like Tabor puts it - the sense of coziness or welcoming, of the building.

srp said...

I love the shades of brown and the overall symmetry of the picture. Very nice.

lisaschaos said...

YOu made it look unique and gorgeous. I've been pushing myself to pay attention to the common lately. I think we under-appreciate too many things.

Karen Sather said...

Love this picture, big fan of buildings inside and out! According to some I indulge in plain so I'll rally for plain. Having my burger/steak plain the meat tastes better. Looking beneath for ordinary things we are far more apt to see things as they truly are. Plain is more real than things that are falsely shown to us. But then that logic gets lost when I wouldn’t leave the house without make-up. OOPS! Plain and humble are related, and being either one you are/have something more in all the little important things which mostly makes a person contently happy! Thanks for giving points to ponder! Love it!

Peg Cherre said...

I really like this photo. Very comforting somehow. And to my eye, at least, very interesting.

TheMuddledMarketPlace said...

lovin that shot
well caught

Catharine said...

If you're interested in learning more about people-friendly living space (from the micro to the macro), I recommend the book 'A Pattern Language'.

bloggie-thing-a-ma-jig... said...

We seem to always be looking for bigger and better things, but when we think we've actually found them, we usually just end up disappointed. Sometimes we even mask the disappointment at the cost of fitting in. Other people may be amazed so it might be "socially normal."
Whatever it is, I always try to open my eyes at even the ugliest of sites because you can always find something inexplicably beautiful about them.

Ankita (Gg) said...

Beautiful pic!