Someone Has Built It Before

Architect Octavian Ungureanu / Architect’s Blog / Someone Has Built It Before

I feel so frustrated to find stuff online that I feel I had to read it much earlier than I do. „Someone Has Built It Before” is such a website. If you are an architect you should follow this blog. If you are not, you also should follow it!

What should you see on “Someone Has Built It Before”?

The author of features hundreds of examples of buildings and their architects’ sources of inspiration. Some of them, as Mrs. Zaha Hadid, are both inspiring and inspired.
There is a thin line that sets distances between copy-paste and conscious inspiration. Others are just copy-paste operations. Let’s just call them borrowings.

Let me show an example, from my country:

Built It Again! National Theatre in Bucharest Romania
Literally, This is a Built It Before and Again! The National Theatre in Bucharest, Romania, is rebuilt to its (almost original design) of the ’70s. The design is by Romeo Belea, an Architect, and my former professor. Ceausescu didn’t like it and asked for a redesign. Check on THENOW (Costin Gheorghe) the story in photography…

During the 1980s and 1990s, the theatre had a very different volume, as you can see over here, again on Costin’s blog. over here. It is not a different construction, it is the Corbusian big hat reshaped. Now, it is restored to the 1970s image.

You can also see the inspiration source of Romeo Belea, again, image by Costin Gheorghe:

Le Corbusier's chapel was the source of inspiration of Romanian National Theatre in Bucharest has a very good point> Le Corbusier is maybe the most copied architect. Ever!

Why do architects copy stuff?

It is not the architects’ crime. Somehow, I don’t even think it is a crime, it is in our genome to steal good ideas and use them to our advantage. This bad habit differentiates us from our distant cousins, the primates. This is what made our species so successful for tens and hundreds of years.

Architects are obsessed with architecture usually. Our minds have an extra circuit that processes all visual information with some simple architectural inquiries. We quickly decide whether we love an architectural detail, a building, or just the image of the building. Then we permanently write the info down.
We can this way to replay the original info through a kaleidoscope. We mix, flip, rotate, and take it out of scale, becoming more and more obsessed.

We try to use the image of our crazy love every single time we can, suffering if our new design does not even have the tiny chance to allow it to be mixed with boring creation.
Sometimes we can be cured, but only being helpless in love with some other form, texture, volumetry, or composition principle.

We don’t even need an architectural image.
I have sought for months the opportunity to express the influences that Richard Feynman’s lectures had on me. I watch now video documentaries on space expansion or the holographic universe.
With my rudimentary physics education, I fantasize about empty space containing energy that can pop out from nothing new matter, as quantum theories left marks on my mind.

There are copy and copy. There are paste styles and paste styles

I still remember the time I saw a model of the Notre Dame du Haut, from Ronchamp. It is exposed to a hallway in my architecture school, in Bucharest. It had a huge impact on Romanian Architects of the ’60s and ’70s. Not only the National Theatre but a wide range of cultural buildings and administrative palaces were built all over Romania, maybe almost each of them being a salute to the old Le Corbu!

I think somehow Le Corbu touched a string we have inside that vibes on primordial music.
I can not explain it, but my recent interest in physics, quantum theory, and the holographic universe blossomed again!
Maybe Le Corbu, not being a formally licensed architect broke the vicious circle that forced architects to use again and again the old school formalism.

Anyway, the Romanian architects were not a bunch of degenerated thieves. Their emulation of Le Corbu’s work ended in many buildings that, depending on their own talent are more or less iconic for their locations. Besides, they were not the only ones.

Back in the 60-70-80-90’s and even in the 2000’s the speed and quantity of information was limited by the amount of curated content in architectural digest and the speed of architects visiting other places.
In other words, they had just a limited source of inspiration. More, the real impact of Le Corbu was tremendous. Maybe one of his works was in almost every single architectural magazine in the world for more than 2 or 3 decades.
The Athens Charter was almost a tribute to Le Corbu.

The Future Of Architects’ Inspiration?

Now we have the Internet!
As an architect, I can see the work of virtually any architect in the world! I don’t have to travel or be influenced by glossy magazine editors! I can get my inspiration from the work of an obscure architect in Bolivia, Scandinavia, or Turkmenistan.
All the architects and students surf the web day by day, just watching fabulous buildings, filtering more and more architectural imagery, pushing our aesthetic absorption to the point our brains should have more and more specialized circuits just to process the data we provide.

Just think about the way our brains process visuals!

Our eyes can record in HD less than a square centimeter. Our brains are working full time to process these tiny parts of data into an amazing HD full-width colored imagery we think we see!
Our formal architectural education just gives us rudimentary tools to process architectural data. Our brains evolved for millions of years to photoshop in real time the best recordings we know in the universe (Physics again!)

Le Corbusier had an initiatic trip through Europe in his youth. He noted and sketched the architecture he saw, both cultured and traditional.

Think About Our Architectural Imagistry Consumption!

We are consuming now more and more architectural information each day. More important this is happening with all the architects, all over the world! Even being influenced by the fashion of starchitects, this informal education will be more and more fertile for more and more architects. We will have more and more examples of creative, inspirational examples of good and amazing design.

The shapes, volumes, textures, ideas, and philosophies of architecture are changing at a more and more rapid pace, the same the Universe expansion is accelerating. The same as space, dilating, is the place of more matter, the same, the Universe of Architects is dilating!

I think we will either see a more vast architectural creation with an inspiration point that is hard to find, or we will act as banks of fish!

They move and change direction with no apparent leadership. They manage to survive and strive. They are successful, despite the bad luck of most of them being hunted down by the largest predator alliance ever imagined.

If we compare fish and architects, we can understand that the collective consciousness is driven by tiny bits of information that every member of the group is processing.
When the information was limited as in the age of non Internet, the result was a collective will to conform to the successful architecture of the most successful architects.

What will happen when big brains are bombarded with huge information? It is hard to say, but this system will produce its own information. It will feed and devour its own parts as an imaginary beast.
I think there will be less concern about the ownership of initial sources because even the feeding system will take fewer bits from more inspirational examples.
It will be harder and harder to state who is the follower and who is the role model.

If someone has built it before it will be less obvious, as on one hand the inspiration will be more collective and the output will be finer processed, on the other hand.

Even the possibility of reading amazing analysis the way I could read on will also change the game from the ground!

Please don’t be shy and let me know your thoughts on this one. And if you are an architect, please don’t be offended by my comparison of architects with fish. I am swimming myself right now!