September 3, 2010

charles peas
Prince Charles, Andy Warhol, 1980 (source)


In the current economic crisis potentially expensive experimental proposals may be overlooked in favor of buildable, cost-effective ones, as tested methodologies are safer bets. But why would a member of a commissioning body resist supporting a project if cost is not a concern?


Prince Charles was recently involved in halting Richard Rogers’ scheme for Chelsea Barracks by directly contacting the Qatari royal family (the owners of the site) to lobby for an alternate Classical proposal by Quinlan Terry. Prince Charles’ architectural taste appears to privilege how well the style of the proposal relates to the style of the surrounding area, ignoring all other factors which determine how the scheme relates strategically to its site such as connectivity, massing, program etc. Here, taste has entered the design debate because the origins of an architectural form do not appear to be complacent within its setting. The style of the proposal does not reflect the style of its surroundings, and the proposal is deemed to be out of place, undermining what the Prince has determined to be good design.


If good taste manifests itself in respecting and maintaining social and formal norms, what is its place in architecture in regards to more experimental design? Is it poor taste, within the context of a recession and global warming, to take design risks?


Fionnuala Heidenreich


Still from Peas, Wolfgang Tillmans, 2003 (source)


For Immanuel Kant, taste is both personal and beyond reasoning. Perhaps this explains Kant’s culinary desires which include peas, turnips, cod, caviar and Göttingen sausages. Through the careful assemblage of ingredients, an individual is able to satisfy their unique palette.


Cooking, much like architecture finds its form through building. Both professions draw upon a plethora of raw materials to assemble their basic elements into entities that evolve and endure in the form of memorable temperatures, textures and tastes.


Given the similarities between architecture and the culinary arts, could taste be the next frontier to be explored by architects? Beyond appealing to a consumer’s visual sensibilities, companies such as Comme des Garçons are branding their Dover Street Market, retail space through the creation of an eponymous scent as a means of cementing their identity, perhaps taste is next in line as a novel purveyor of atmospheric potential.


Erandi de Silva



Edited by Erandi de Silva


3 Responses to “TASTE”


    Erandi, check out “Lessons from Molecular Gastronomy” by David Ruy in Log 17 (http://www.anycorp.com/log.php?id=35), its a surprisingly lyrical exploration, via MG, of how scientific tools, technology and techniques can be used creatively and intuitively at the service of sensory pleasure and phenomenal delight, rather than using scientific tools and jargon as architects tend to do, as quasi-scientific self justification with no ends other than the rigour of the process itself. I don’t know if its the same for you, but when a building really knocks me out, it does feel as though I am being fed a dish that’s both satisfying my hunger, and setting the palette alight…


    Thanks for mentioning this article. Of particular interest and relevance to the above post is the fourth lesson from Ruy’s article which states that:


    “…taste is not entirely in the mouth [as] seeing is not entirely in the eye…Design has been heavily influenced by the classification of the senses. The dubious but commonly held notion that each of the senses is an independent pathway has lead to a correspondingly dubious strategy for engaging individual senses (usually sight) through representations – this smells like, this sounds like, etc. Experience itself is never as simple, and our sensory apparatus is far more complex than is suggested by the widely assumed categories of the senses. Acknowledging that experience is fundamentally multi-nodal and that the sensory apparatus is a synthetic amalgam of the sense categories, other possibilities that do not rely as much on strategies of representation may open up for the designer.”



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