One of the ‘fun’ things about owning a home is the seemingly unending flow of maintenance that you have to carry out just to prevent the place falling down around your ears. Some will be essential, like sorting out that rotten piece of decking before Aunt Mavis falls through it again, whilst others fall into the category of ‘non-essential, but somebody’s got to do it sometime’. If you’re into DIY, relish the thought of decorating, have way too much money, or happen to derive masochistic pleasure from stabbing yourself with screwdrivers, or dropping hammers on your toes, then it’s no big deal, otherwise those non-essential tasks have a habit of becoming just a little more essential over time.
It’s one of the things you learn to accept and live with – part of the general wear and tear of life. It’s not so much fun when you’ve just moved into a brand new build however, where you’d expect everything to be perfect. However some find that even brand new homes can be less than perfect, by a long way, thanks to shoddy workmanship and poor quality.
Personally I think we’re seeing the demise of real craftsmen in favour of cheap, factory produced, prefabricated and poor quality constructions. And the same is true of design too – modern architecture, even when it’s described as edgy, adventurous and daring, tends to be bland, uninspiring and ugly. Vast expanses of glass, steel and concrete, jammed together at weird angles rarely makes for a pretty sight – and whilst architects slap each other on the backs and win awards for designing buildings that look like toasters and dustbins, all I see is urban blight and ugliness.
Travel back a couple of hundred years or more and you see something very different… Take a stroll through Rome, Paris or any place with any architectural heritage and you’ll see majestic stone-built edifices, festooned with flourishes, columns, colonnades and statuary – beautiful buildings that speak of civic pride, sophistication and craftsmanship. These are places that enhance our surroundings, rather than detract from them – yet, for some reason, we no longer build anything stately or inspirational, preferring utilitarian, functional and ugly instead.
Why? Have we lost the skills and ability to build like we used to? Is it too costly? Or are we simply arrogantly thinking we can do things better today than in the past?
I honestly think that most of our real architects today can be found not in our cities and towns, but in places like SL – where we have far fewer constraints and impositions, and no town planners demanding that we comply with modern standards of design and desirability. Here the creative and artistic spirit flourishes, giving us whimsical, inspiring and beautiful buildings that we want to photograph, explore and own. Here you will also find those who wish to recreate the best of real world architecture in virtual form, complete with gargoyles, art deco finery, and artistic folly.
I’ve seen some pretty amazing architecture inworld: garish and wildly implausible cartoon constructions, grandiose gothic castles, recreations of great Renaissance cathedrals and stately homes, many of which have shown a blatant disregard for their surroundings and location – which I think is fun, and exactly the way it should be. Great architecture, whether real or virtual should be able to stand on its own merit, without any reference to its location or provenance and still manage to look good, unlike some of the monstrosities currently filling our city vistas.
Maybe one day we’ll learn from those builders of our virtual living spaces and start to, once again, apply the principles of craftsmanship and an eye for aesthetics that somehow, along the way, we’ve ditched in favour of appearing ‘modern’.
Five miles out of London on the Western Avenue
Must have been a wonder when it was brand new
Talkin’ ’bout the splendor of the Hoover factory
I know that you’d agree if you had seen it too
Elvis Costello – Hoover Factory