THE RIGHT HAND HALF OF THE SOUTH ELEVATION.
On the right there is the 'tent' which contains carpets. To the left is the circular pavilion with a ramp that takes the visitor down to the level under the Courtyard. The round-ended oeuil-de-boeuf are very 'space-ship'. One expects to see the top rotate and take off. But I like them. They are 'fanlights'.
People have said that tthe Tent is incongrouous. But pyramids have always been at home in Neo-Classicism. The 'pyra' is the hearth that is raised on the four-square, four-columned altar, providing one decipherment of the pediment which Lawrence (1957) and Tomlinson (1983 & 1996), in "Greek Architecture" (Yale & Pelican)), were unable to explain with their exhausted tectonic aetiology. They saw the pediment as a tectonic aberration. Whereas its 'tectonic superfluity' (and especially its Panavision, Technicolour, line-up of 'Bollywood' superheroes) is proof that it is not carpentry that validates Architecture, but Iconics. Building is merely the means to this intelligible end. Humans are not molluscs in need of shells. Not one square centimetre of the Parthenon's marble (merely a good local supply) was uncoloured, unpainted and unwaxed. No Westerner (including Corbusier, with his poem to 'steel castings') has been able to accept these undeniable facts for the 150 years that Archaeology has known them. The Parthenon was an iconic construct from beginning to end. Its building material could have been of cast plastic providing its iconography was 'working'. Only an illiterate 'varvaros', like the vandal 'art expert' (White Supremacy) Duveen, would ever think otherwise.
The oddity in my pyramid is the contra-formal destruction of its vertices, a typically 20C inversion which might, or might not, prove optically diverting from the interior. It offends because it is, in truth, just one of those elephantine gestures of negation so characteristic of an architectural culture bound by taboo to refuse the power of decoration to 'coffer' a pyramid in the traditional, 'classical', manner looking up into its interior as into a perspective framing a view into "the light in the rock".
Almost nothing in Architecture seems more difficult than the subdivision of a window into compartments such as separate panes of glass. This is why even this minor problem has been abolished by the best Modern design. Windows have become walls of glass. Technology allows Architects to 'cheat' their way out of the things that make the medium what it is. But by doing this Contemporary designers only show that they have no way of using the Medium to say what can be said with it. This is made even more pathetic because the contemporqry designer, burdened with this terrible task of choosing one window pane or another, has been rendered ignorant, for some 100 years, that the window is the least important 'panel' in any conceptually-structured architecture. The ones that count are in the dreaded 'interior'. Those on the ceiling are the most important, and then on the floor. But even the 'solid' wall-panels framed by the columns and beams of a 'trabeated' architecture rate more highly than a mere 'wind-hole'. But how could the modern designer even begin to know this, bereft as he is of he use of even a supermarket graphic level of iconic engineering with which to 'inscribe' an idea within these (architecturally) ready-made 'picture planes'.
Give a competent Architect a big public room, in the centre of a building, where everyone can congregate, hang out and participate in the events that embody their Institution, whether formal or informal, and what will he do? Will he inscribe the ideas that make such a great public space a 'theatrum mundi', a 'micro-cosmos' (micro-who?)- a place in which time and space are more than just water running to waste. Can he inscribe 'time and space' into that great room so that both become real, 'enfleshed' ideas? No, he can not. To disguise this deficiency he will make the roof of glass, so that 'light will come in'. So will massive heat energy at mid-summer. The whole space will need air-conditioning. Then it will go black at night. The glass roof will slowly go black with mould and dirt during the day as well, and on both sides of the pane. This laboured avoidance of the Architect's proper job, which is to decorate the ceiling of a public room with an appropriate iconic essay, will land the Building Owner in huge cost and mechanical complexity.
I found that I preferred to fill the windows of the round, domed, 'Tholos' with louvres. I could justify this on the grounds that direct light should not enter this Museum space. But nothing is more intellectually suffocating than the view through glass. It is, iconically, a pure tautology, without linguistic dimension. Glass is the universally-craved narcosis of Architecture.
The only kind of dome I could live with was this shallowly segmental Neo-Classical 'smoothie'. Like the columns and the beams. The vocabulary had to be 'simple' to the point of brutality if I was to recover thse forms without the 'history' of 'styles' that clung to them so tenaciously. For me there is no Architecture if one is denied the elements of colonnade, arcade, entablature, dome, spike and so on.
My work over the following 40 years would pursue the project of reinventing all of these things in a form that was absolutely of my living time, that is to say free of all 'period' mustiness. For unless that could be done I faced, as many argued then, and continue to argue today, the end of Architecture as a useful medium.
(Medium: drafting pen and pencil on tracing paper. Size of the original A1+, Scale 1:200)
The Competition Design for the Burrell Museum, Glasgow.