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Message - Re: Byker Redevelopment

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Posted by  Kevin Matthews on December 08, 1998 at 10:42:17:

In Reply to:  Byker Redevelopment posted by Alison on December 08, 1998 at 08:14:28:

Dear Alison,

I think it is terrific to hear from someone actually living in the Byker Redevelopment! I think some architects will agree about this, and others will not. But I would like very much to hear a bit more from you about some specific strengths and weaknesses of the Bkyer project as a collection of buildings in real life. You have an extremely important perspective, which architects get access to all too rarely.

I personally believe that architecture is about buildings and the lives that intertwine them, not just about architects and ideas. Architects and ideas are important, but design becomes inhuman when ideas become the sole focus.

Perhaps surprsingly, to say "architecture is about buildings" can be a controversial position! One of the professors I 'experienced' during graduate education in architecture at UC Berkeley (a highly regarded academic who went on to be head of another well-known architecture school) once told a group of us students that as far as he was concerned, once the drawings were, the architecture was done. To Professor Lerup, whether the building was even built was irrelevant. It seemed that to him, since Architecture is purely a matter of ideas, the experience of living in a building would be just as irrelevant as whether the building was actually built at all.

There's a big extra twist on the architect/occupancy issues with regard to the Byker Redevelopment. This project is widely considered to be a major example of participatory design, with residents invloved in the design process to a much, much higher degree than is usual. It would be fascinating to trace back some examples of current strengths and weaknesses of the project as a real place to live, and to see how they fit into the unusual design process. How did the interaction of the architects and the residents group work to improve or degrade the ultimate livability of the Byker Wall?



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