10 June 2010

Modern Façades Today, Now #001


Damage fetishism

Thanks to esteemed colleague Mr Buhr, who kicks off this new SLAB Collection with the above photo he recently submitted. This series will probe the challenging aesthetic dimension of damage in modern façade design, and in doing so will debunk the authority of the surface in contemporary architecture. It will also be good for a whole bunch of laughs.

Let’s go at this one layer for layer. First there’s the smeggy, cream-cheese surface treatment; the exterior equivalent of anaglypta wallpaper and just as soul destroying. Below this a chalky crust of hardened powder has been adhered to a flimsy aluminium mesh, underneath which everything becomes rather obscene looking. I should imagine that the mud-encrusted anus of a Merino sheep is not dissimilar in appearence.

Judging by the subtle dent in the blue metal surface, this is probably a door frame which has been rear-ended by some motor vehicle or other. The resulting scar is a vulgar reminder of what is keeping modern homo-sapiens safe from the elements, and poses the quesiton of whether or not we are happy for our most visible of art forms to appear as if it has been congealed rather than composed.

Modern Façades Today, Now


4 responses to Modern Façades Today, Now #001

  1. fergus_b

    The door frame has been “jemmied” and the crowbar (or screwdriver) has destroyed the insulation-render in the process.
    The mesh is usual plastic or fibreglass. The brown insulation is probably fireproof, otherwise you’d have styrofoam gunk.

  2. D.S.

    Had to google “anaglypta”: looks to be a British thing. I could see that it could leave certain indentations in childhood memories. But compared to the dire German rendition of textured wall coverings, the “Rauhfaser” (compare the abrasive sound of that to “anaglypta”) the British version seems pretty charming … That makes it pretty easy to dislike, thinking of it as exterior Rauhfaser … yuck … always find it strange how disappointed I feel when stuff like this is revealed, more a mix of disappointment and the fascination and sublime tingle of pulling out the legs of an insect, or just the feeling of having bitten into a cake display of gypsum … anybody got a glass of water?

  3. I.W.

    Thanks Fergus, for the clue about an attempted breaking-and-entering. It hadn’t crossed my mind, strangely.

  4. Joe (detail donkey)

    Not to be too pedestrian here, but the modified portland EIFS in question here is over fiberglass, which is a rather, erm, facile choice. What is normally used is polystyrene because it’s inherently hydrophobic.
    The other thing is that you never put that crap anywhere below shoulder height, even if you can make yourself immune to liability when and if it leaks.
    I’m not as down on the pebble finish given the other basic options, most of which have an “el cheapo ranchero” overtone.

    As for the ding in the painted galvanized sheet metal, any number of features of ongoing abose could do that. I’ve even seen that kind of damage during construction.

    With respect to finding anything of aesthetic interest in the image though, I have to admit that I don’t hate myself enough to even try.