For Nikos Salingaros, the persuit of formal or critico-ideological concerns in place of adapting to nature and the needs of ordinary human beings defines “bad architecture” which makes people uncomfortable or physically ill. Salingaros’s targets were the star postmodern architects who emphasized meaning at the expense of the concrete experiences of the people who used their buildings. Take Bernard Tschumi—from the premise that there is no fixed relationship between architectural form and the events that take place within it, he drew a socio-critical conclusion: this gap opens up the space for critical undermining. Architecture’s role is not to express an extant social structure, but to function as a tool for questioning that structure and revising it. Salingaros’s counter-argument would be: should we then make ordinary people uncomfortable and ill at ease in their buildings, just to impose on them the critico-ideological message that they live in an alienated, commodified, and antagonistic society? Koolhaas was right to reject what he dismissively calls architecture’s “fundemental moralism,” and to doubt the possibility of any directly “critical” architectural practice—however, our point is not that architecture should somehow be “critical,” but that it cannot not reflect and interact with social and ideological antagonisms: the more it tries to be pure and purely aesthetic and/or functional, the more it reproduces these antagonisms.
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