This week we are celebrating two cultural projects we have worked on over the last year with Architectural Review (AR) Magazine and the Global Art Affairs (GAA) Foundation in Venice. Both projects, one a publication and the other an exhibition, although different, have risen out of a sense of advocacy at Form4 Architecture.
As a practising architect, John Marx, Form4 Architecture’s Chief Creative Officer, has wanted to engage meaningfully in the discourse and debates that currently both inform and challenge our profession. He asks difficult questions of himself and colleagues:
When did the public fall out of love with the built environment?
When did our profession polarize so deeply between the pragmatic and the self-indulgent?
When did we begin to neglect the people we pledged to care for?
Is there a place for poetry in architecture?
Is emotional meaning important in architecture?
Can architecture embrace the concept of abundance?
These and other questions have been building up over several years as Marx has been developing the underlying philosophy to address these issues and, as a result, he has instigated these two efforts to share this with the profession and the public at large.
Form4’s AR monograph The Absurdity of Beauty: Rebalancing the Modernist Narrative tackles Marx’s themes through a series of essays by prominent architectural writers including Pierluigi Serraino, Paul Finch, Catherine Slessor, Ian Ritchie, Sam Lubell, Richard England, Jay Merrick and Jeremy Melvin. John Marx has written about the studio’s own journey in finding a balance between the poetic and rational elements of design. The monograph includes a portfolio of the practice’s work to illustrate this as well as a group of essays looking at recent developments in California. Form4’s Chief Financial and Operations Officer, Paul Ferro, focuses on Silicon Valley in this section.
The monograph has been edited by Catherine Slessor who says, “The Form4 monograph is conceived not simply as an exploration of the practice’s diverse body of work, but an investigation into how the narrative of Modernism, which shaped design culture for the last century, can be rebalanced to instigate a new and humanly responsive era of architecture and urbanism.”
At GAA’s Venice space in the Palazzo Mora, John Marx’s installation for Form4 Architecture is contributing to the overall theme of exhibitions: Time – Space – Existence. The practice is focussed on explaining the testing architectural environment that exists today and against what is increasingly considered the mixed legacy of Modernism. This had led Marx to coin the term “2nd Century Modernism” which is also the name of the studio’s own exhibit. As the name suggests, there is a desire to make sense of the world through classification. However, the categories used to do this by Marx are original and include: Form; Concept; Technologies; Emotion; and Cultural circumstances. As Form4 observes, Concept and Technology loom large today while Emotional meaning and Culture are on the back foot. How is it that we got here and what can we do? Is there a more generous balance to be sought that is engaging and inclusive?
The Absurdity of Beauty: Rebalancing the Modernist Narrative will be launched by the Architectural Review at The Monaco Hotel on the Grand Canal in Venice on 24 May.
Form4 Architecture’s exhibition on 2nd Century Modernism will be at Palazzo Mora from 26 May to 25 November 2018. Palazzo Mora, Strada Nova, 3659, 30121 Venezia
Read more at TheAbsurdityofBeauty.com