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«CSAAR (7: 2010: Amman) Sustainable Architecture and Urban Development \ Edited by Steffen Lehmann, Husam Al Waer, Jamal AI-Qawasmi. Amman: The Center ...»

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Buck, N. H et al. (2002) Working capital: life and labor in contemporary London. Oxford: Routledge Chesire, P. & Sheppard, S. (2005) The Introduction ofPrice Signals into Land Use Planning Decision-making: AProposal." Urban Studies, Vol. 42, No. 4 Department ofthe Enivronment, Transport and Regions. (1999). Towards an Urban Renaissance. London: DETR.

Echenique, M. (2005). Forcasting the sustainability of alternative plans. In M.

Jenks, & N. Dempsey, Future Forms and Designfor Sustainable Cities (pp. I \3- 132). Oxford: Architectural Press.

GLA Economics. (2009). Commuting patterns in London by qualijication level and employment lcoation. London: GLA Economics.

GLA, Greater London Authority. (2008). The London Plan consolidatedwith alterations since 2004. London: Greater London Authority.

GLA, Greater London Authority. (2004). The London Plan. London: Greater London Authority.

GLA, Mayor ofLondon. (2009). The London Housing Strategy - draftfor public consultation. London: GLA.

Hall, P. (2004). Cities ofTomorrow. London: Blackwe\l.

Hall, P (2006). The Land Fetish: Densities and London Planning. In "London and Bigger Better?" London: LSE London Hall, P., & Pain, K. (2006). The Polycentric Metropolis. London: Earthscan.

Hall, P., & Ward, C. (1998). Sociable CWes. West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

O'Sullivan, A. (2007). Urban Economics. New York: McGraw Hill.

Panerai, Ph et altri (2007). Urban forms: The Death and Life ofthe Urban Block.

Oxford, Boston: Architectural Press Rudlin, D. and Falk, N. (URBED, The Urban & Econornic Development Group) (2001). Building the 21st century home: the sustainable urban neighbourhood. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.

Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (2009) David Richards, Final Report on the Application by Glenkerrin State ofEaling (2009), http://www.ealing.gov.uklservices/ council/facts_ and_figures/profiles_ oeEalinK_borough/ Sustainability ofLand Use and Transport in Outer Neighbourhoods, SOLUTlONS. (2009). London Local Case Study Final Report.

Cambridge: The Martin Centre.

Whitehead, C. (2008). The Density Debate: A Personal View. London: LSE London Sustainable Architecture and Urban Development 407 Sustainability Is Not About More Iconic Architecture Faida Noori Salim University 0/Baghdad, lraq Abstract Most modem iconic architecture breaks the existing urban codes and regulations.

They tend to operate outside the existing rules ofthe urban fabric. The Architects and the clients of such projects start with these intentions in mind. Hence, such architecture can only argue against the present status quo. On the other hand, it is only through the present and collective memory that one can argue for the sustainability of culture. As such, all iconic architecture that ignores the present cultural context, in the name of difference and iconicity, will inevitably participate in the process of a change to an alternative.

In the current circumstances, all such changes are lead by celebrity architects, who are effectively participating in the creation of a new global culture supported by some complex theoretical arguments that can only sincerely serve one cultural outlook or, in case of deconstruction against European cultures, and for that same matter, all old existing cultures. This leading role of theory in architecture has resulted in astate ofhyper theory, which can only lead to greater fragmentation of existing cultures.

No culture can sustain a continuous course of celebrating the rich, the expensive, and the excessive. It was not a coincidence that modem architecture developed itself through the architecture of the house and the neighborhood. Most existing cultures are formed around a stable and basic social institution, the family.

Whereas, today, global culture is being formed around celebrity figures, of which celebrity architects are examples.

The paper argues through interpretation that sustainability of cultures through architecture is not and cannot be about celebrity architects or iconic architecture.

However, change is inevitable, and the new can be thought ofthrough the natural sustainability and cultural sustainability of values and institutions, and iconicity should be understood as coming from the community and from the identity Faida Noori Salim formation processes of individuals in the process of meeting their own essential needs for cultural sustainability and social stability.

Keywords: Iconic Architecture, Celebrity architects, Sustainability, Culture, Violence, Present, Image.

1 Introduction Architectural practice and teaching today has mostly evolved in the last forty years around celebrity architects and post modem iconic architecture. So, we read for Venturi: "let us now abandon our hopeless search for new form and define the artfu! dimension of architecture as iconographic." (Venturi, 1996) However, that does not mean that past periods did not enjoy such a trend.

Naturally and throughout its history, architecture has aligned itself with power.

But given the egalitarian paradigm, that advocated universal equality for aIl people, power was declared as disembodied. Yet, celebrity architects, today, form centres of power and attraction and their work receives instant recognition, some architects have sought or found themselves in such a place and worked to maintain it by continuous invention of the 'new'. Such astate of architecture is not necessarily a sign of better life, and as Brecht says through Galileo's character in his play 'life of Galileo': "unhappy the land that is in need of heroes." (Brecht, 1937-1939, p.95) In an interview with Gehry, he said that democracy is noisy. This means difference and individuality creates noise and pollution of images, not to mention the impact of advertisement. This has gone so far that a weil known critic like Charles Jencks will search for an explanation from Frank Gehry for what Charles Jencks perceived as repetition of architecture while recalling the similarity between Disney Hall and the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, and probably some other projects. (Jencks, 2005) In contrast, the Modem Movement in architecture was more attentive to the ordinary and the public. The house and the neighbourhood became their focus in what emerged later as urban design. Rather than complexity and contradiction, simplicity, efficiency and healthy environment for the ordinary was their focus.





Their work was meant for a disciplined society. Today's developed cities exhibit architecture that is competing for attention and is more for a surveillance society.

Postmodern designs of circulation in buildings are not studied according to the rationale of the disciplined person, but rather take on a life of their own, and depend on surveillance cameras for security.

When Venturi called on architecture to pursue such aesthetics he did not ignore the importance of harmony. In fact his invitation and enthusiasm for Sustainable Architecture and Urban Development 409 images that are part of the physical environment and different from that produced by Modem Movement is an invitation to live in harmony with what existed and to abandon the bulldozer strategy. It is an invitation to work with an eye on the context and a mind that creates through an urban design focus.

More recently some architects seeking more technological images are promoting digital architecture. Though the images are aesthetically attractive (at least on paper) society, however, cannot sustain such competition, contradiction and pollution of images, on a city-wide scale. Again, to quote Brecht, "there are times when you have to choose between being a human and having good taste."

(Quotations page, 2010) Thus architecture today is faced with the dilemma of having to choose between some utopian thinking of which architectural form becomes its vehic\e that can only promises future, and the present where all our social, political, cultural, and cIimatic problems appears.

2 Image Impact and Reality NeU Leach has submitted his understanding of how to advance the new but to still incorporate the present in what he calls 'Camouflage theory'. He explains

that:

Camouflage, then, is understood here as a mechanism for inscribing an individual within a given cultural setting. This need not be a literal state of visual equivalence with that setting - mimicry - such that the definition of the self is lost against the background of the other or a building is masked against its surroundings. The role of camouflage is not to disguise, but to offer a medium through wh ich to relate to the other. Camouflage constitutes a mode of symbolization. It operates as a form of connectivity. (Leach, 2006, p. 240) Leach offered such a theory after a lengthy investigation into the various aspects of human psychology and analysis that relate people to their surrounding environment. Tbe theory as defined stands against violent actions towards the order of the present without denying the right of the new to appear different from its background, certainly such thinking is important to an image-driven culture.

(Leach, 2006, p. 241) Leach adds that, "in this respect the concept of camouflage is aligned cIosely with psychoanalytic perspectives that recognize the important role of representation in the constitution of identity." (Leach, 2006, p. 242) Leach argues that his theory of camouflage stands against the ontological argument of culture. However, his reference to its importance to the constitution of identity reveals the opposite. He explains that commodities and the use of the impact of images do not conceal identity (as Guy Debord has argued, because things are reproduced through images that promote even the person as a commodity, (Debord, 1975»), but that identities are forged. (Leach, 2006, p. 242) Leach also does not agree with Baudrillard that the real has been, or will be, murdered, because for hirn reality is imaginary. So, the theory of camouflage celebrates this linkage which philosophically has been argued since Plato's Faida Noori Salim 4\0 theory of fonns. However, this time, the unreal i5 produced by technology, not by nature. The difference is that nature can adjust itself to different circumstances and technology cannot. Hence, the cycle of adjustments will not be in accordance with so me reality but rather it will be in accordance with the development of the unreal itself that IS controlled by individuals who are adjusting to new circumstances.

Newness in architecture prornotes image consumption that has built a tradition in architecture through which the building will not have a worth in its architecture if it does not present new mostly fonnal spatial language. Whereas historically, architecture developed through adopting human needs as they evolved in the progress of culture and the way in which people lived and conducted their activities and rituals. However, Leach did not forget to mention that visual imagery that is affecting our cultural elements including architecture is indeed a reductive approach. He says that the "totalizing treatment of visual imagery within much of postmodern discourse is itself a reductive one." (Leach, 2006, p. 242) The more subtle psychology of familiarity and belonging that Leach is trying to explain can be seen in traditional neighbourhoods where people relate to all elements that fonn the street, public space, and the dwelling units. Even the little cracks and writings on walls convey meanings to the memory of the children playing in the semiprivate cul-de-sac, whereas in an image-based culture, the new is mediated globally through that which is used to serve aglobaI culture and prornotes global powers.

In such a promotion no accommodation i8 made tor what is different. Such an accommodation would establish an increased connectivity among people's activities and their built environment, which will allow an easier assimilation of the new by the users. CorrectIy, Leach mentions the need "to counter the horror vacuia of a depersonalized, atomized self in a society of increasing alienation."



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