Annals of archibabble

Architects are brilliant visual communicators but when it comes to words some can't resist resorting to dense, obscure and pretentious "archibabble"

Alan Davies — Editor of The Urbanist

Alan Davies

Editor of The Urbanist

[caption id="attachment_21982" align="aligncenter" width="559" caption="Proposal by Felix Laboratories  - one of the shortlisted finalists for Sydney City Council's Greensquare library and plaza design competition"][/caption]

What struck me most when paging through the 173 proposals the Sydney City Council received for its competition to design the new Greensquare Library and Plaza, is the extent of 'archibabble' or 'talkitecture' in the entries.

Architects are blessed with the ability to visualise ideas much better than most people. They can express their visions on screen or paper with a clarity and elegance that's beyond mere mortals.

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10 thoughts on “Annals of archibabble

  1. Dudley Horscroft

    Rather off topic, it reminds me that when I was a boy doing my homework I decided to turn on the radio to the BBC Third Program, to listen to some good music. I heard various odd plunkings, and when my Mother suggested it wasn’t music I agreed, and said “They are just tuning up. I’ll wait a bit.” I did, and after 10 minutes the announcer said “You have just heard the first broadcast of Iain Hamilton’s First Symphony, which was commissioned by the BBC.” I believe it had one more performance, a few years later, in Scandinavia, and then sank into the cess-pit of bad music.

    Not only in architechture do you get nonsense!

  2. floorer

    “Reacting to the porous edge of the site, stimulated the concept of temporality, and the fluidity that water has on developing connections, fostering interactions and leaving a reminisce of what has passed.” Not that hard;
    When it gets wet it will look different.

  3. supermundane

    To add regarding that artist, stripped of all the pretentious verbiage, at the end of the day he’d spent his time drawing pretty ugly and poorly executed renditions of Snow White going down on the Seven dwarfs.

  4. supermundane

    I recall watching an interview with an artist recently, whose name escapes me. He was asked to give an account of his work, which in the main consisted of rough and crudely drawn renditions of famous cartoon characters such as Mickey Mouse defecating or with enormous erections. He began with a melange of misused and abused words – a cacophony of trite meaninglessness. This went on for some time until he began to stumble over his words. He sank into his chair mis-sentence, deflated. ‘Fuck it’ he said with a wave of his hand, ‘I don’t know what to say about it – I got nothing.’.

    In that one act, he exposed the post-modernist malaise that besets both art and architecture (and no I’m not referring to the post-modernism architectural style – the return of ornament and whimsy witnessed in the 1970s-1990’s). The deliberately opaque and intimidating language surrounding both nowadays is an attempt to propagandise the spectacle, empower the creator of the spectacle as an unassailable technocratic elite and deflect attention from the essential triteness and hollowness of the disciplines as now practiced, shorn as they are of any claim to moral truth or purpose as expressed through beauty, form, symmetry and an aspiration for permanence.

    When everything is equally valid and valued, including pencil scrawls of Donald Duck with a hard on, then ultimately nothing has intrinsic meaning or value. Ultimately it’s all meaningless and ephemeral and the opaque language employed to validate these disciplines and their practitioners only ends highlighting this fact.

  5. Hamis Hill

    Well, in Australia, “Master-Building” is an Art, not a Science.
    But you already knew that, didn’t you?
    So what’s your problem?

  6. Pinklefty

    On the other hand, maybe there is some merit in trying to encapsulate the artistic esotericism of a truly professional outlook in an exciting synergistic rendition of architectural perfection.

  7. melburnite

    Yes sadly architects talking about their own work sound like or artists, if they ever to explain their work (most fortunately leave it to art reviewers to explain). But then some of the highly regarded architectural writers / theorists of the mid to late 20thC sounded like that – in fact come to think of it, all this mangled lanuage could be a late last flowing of post-modern discourse, the original of which was dense and difficult to follow. In fact the language itself could be subject to a post-modern analysis that it is all surface and style intended only to convey complexity and depth of thinking, and free of actual meaning.

  8. fractious

    The design of the public spaces foregrounds the concerns of this team

    “foregrounds”? Foregrounds???! Ye gods.

  9. Holden Back

    Wow, Dylan, that analysis is like so patriarchal hierarchical and oppressive. /sarcasm.

  10. Dylan Nicholson

    “Reacting to the porous edge of the site, stimulated the concept of temporality, and the fluidity that water has on developing connections, fostering interactions and leaving a reminisce of what has passed.”

    I challenge anyone to even meaningfully parse that as an English sentence. Needless to say, ‘reminisce’ is NOT a noun (I couldn’t find a single online dictionary that allowed it as such). Is it really ‘stimulatED’ in the original? Or is it ‘stimulated BY’? Even so, there’s still no subject.

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