Architectural planning and design takes many forms and can be undertaken and many different scales, but is often at its core based on the same fundamental principles that have been passed down since the earliest writings on architecture.
Vitruvius, arguably the first-ever person to write about architecture, said that great buildings focus on three core elements; they are useful, they are sturdy and they are beautiful.
Architecture is one of the most unique forms of artistic expression in the world, as it needs to not only look beautiful but also be fit for purpose and last for so long that in many cases the building outlives its original designers and builders.
However, in the pursuit of innovative, daring building design, sometimes a building can court controversy, often magnified by the costs involved in making a building.Here are the stories of some of the most controversial buildings in the world.
20 Fenchurch Street
Known by many Londoners as The Walkie Talkie, the curved modernist building is one of many buildings such as The Shard, 30 St Mary Axe (better known as the Gherkin) and the Millennium Dome that have proven to be somewhat controversial additions to the Capital’s skyline.
However, unlike the latter three, critical consensus has not looked back too kindly on the Walkie Talkie. This is in part caused by its bizarre bulging structure that looks like a cartoon, but mostly due to a major architectural flaw that emerged during the particularly hot summer of 2013.One aspect the designers did not account for was the effect of the curved glass on street-level heat, which infamously melted down cars, set fire to carpets and burned pedestrians, which led to it being nicknamed the ‘death ray’ or the ‘walkie-scorchie’.
It is difficult to think of such an iconic part of London’s skyline as controversial nowadays, but in 1886 it was described by Henry Heathcote Statham as the ultimate representation of “tawdriness and pretentiousness”. Allegedly, a dog refused to cross it because he disliked it so much.
At this point, both Mr Statham and the dog have been proven to be on the wrong side of public opinion, as it is difficult to conceive of London without Tower Bridge.
The Guggenheim Museum
The building most credited with criticisms about architecture, the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, was accused of being ‘architecture for architecture’s sake’, meaning that its design served no purpose but to show off.
Disgraced filmmaker Woody Allen even described it as being akin to a ‘lavatory basin’, but ultimately the critics were proved wrong by a public who loved the design and would go and see the building as much as they would browse the art held within it.