You may have noticed my blog posts of late, becoming even more supercilious. Some might say: boring. Let me explain. In the mid 1990s an architectural critic and theorist named Kenneth Frampton grew in stature with some of the most rigorous, scholarly, considered, significant bullshit to hit the page since Augustine’s Confessions. With 300 word sentences and qualified qualifications on top of more qualifications, he managed to say in a million and one words words what I will now tell you in forty one words: 1. architecture is about the walls and the roof and what these are made from, not just the space that these frame, and, 2. that it would be nice if the architecture of every region in the world was not all the same.
But he said it with fat books that people read the way the Pope reads the Bible, which is to say, no one has read them—they just pretend. I mean, life is too short to read the whole of the titles.
And if there was a god, the story would end with the Frampton’s publication of some of the most boring papers and books the architectural world has yet seen. But no, 20 years on, the story is only beginning. Open the Phaidon Atlas of 21st Century World Architecture, or spend some time on ArchDaily, and you will see why. Roughly two thirds of the small buildings celebrated in today’s architectural press, and roughly one third of the large projects, obey Frampton’s call for interesting wood or masonry walls, and just as Frampton would want, claim to be specific to the region they’re built in.
Frampton bored the architectural world into submission. Which gives me a thought!
Oh I have enjoyed minor celebrity from my first book, witty and accessible as you all know it is. But do you really think I would crave that again? No, leave it Bike Snob to parody himself with second and third books just like the first. I am now playing at Frampton’s game. I am working on a scholarly (some might say turgid) book that refuses to be ignored. For it is only by demonstrating my deep understanding of all aspects of the history and theory of urban design that I can force other architectural educators to take notice of my views about bicycle urbanism, and include them in the lectures they offer. That’s the plan: force my colleagues in architectural education to include my next book in their reading lists so the next crop of graduates shape cities for bikes.
My most valued blog readers remain my friends in bicycle advocacy, and I appreciate that few of you could care one cable doughnut for my latest ruminations on the history of the utopian literary genre and ways it impacts upon urbanism, but unfortunately that is where my mind is at at this time, as I suffer these hardships. My life would be much easier now if only Frampton (left, below) and Peter Eisenman (the other dude) stuck with the plan they are shown here discussing, to make late twentieth-century architecture all about bikes.
I will of course endeavour to write a blog post whenever I drink, as I have just done, for your light entertainment.