Someone Has Built It Before

I feel 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 of 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 70’s. The design it is of Romeo Belea, Architect, my former profesor. Ceausescu didn’t like it and asked for a redesign. Ceck on THENOW (Costin Gheorghe) the story in photography….

During the 1980’s and 1990’s, theTheatre 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 1970’s 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 in our advantage. This bad habit differentiates us by our distant cousins, the primates. This is what made our species so successful during tens and hundreds of years.

The architects are obsessed by architecture usually. Our minds have an extra circuit that process all visual information with some simple architectural inquiries. We quickly decide we love or not 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 trough a caleidoscope. We mix, flip, rotate and take it out of scale, being more and more obsessed.

We try to use the imagine of our crazy love every single time we can, suffering if our new design has not even 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 imagine.
I seek for months the opportunity to express the influences that Richard Feynman lectures had on me. I watch now video documentaries on space expansion, or the holographic universe.
With my rudimentary physics education I fantasize on empty space containing energy that can pop out from nothing new matter, as quantum theories left marks on my mind.

There is copy and copy. There is paste and paste

I still remember the time I saw a model of the Notre Dame du Haut, from Ronchamp. It is exposed on a hallway in my architecture school, in Bucharest. It definitely has a huge impact on Romanian Architects of the 60’s and 70’s. 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 vibers on a 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 theirs 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 were 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 nor to be influenced by glossy magazines’ 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 imagistics, 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 imagestry we think we see!
Our formal architectural education just give us rudimentary tools to process the 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 trough 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 haening 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 is changing a a more and more rapid pace, the same the Universe expansion is accelerating. The same as the space, dilating, is the place of more matter, the same, the Universe of Architects is dilating!

I think we will either see a more vaste architectural creation with an inspiration point more ard to find, either 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 conscious 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 successful architecture of the most success architects.

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

Someone has built it before it will be less obvious, as on one hand the inspiration will be more colective and the output will be more fine processed, on the other hand.

Even the possibility to read amazing analisys the way I could read on Archidialog.Com will also change the game from the grounds!

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 the architects with fish. I am swimming myself right now!

By Octavian Ungureanu

Mă numesc Octavian Ungureanu și sunt arhitect.
Nu proiectez doar blocuri, clădiri de birouri, hoteluri și pensiuni sau clădiri industriale.
Fac și proiecte de case, iar asta îmi place la nebunie.