In The Architectural Review, the problem with craft in architectural production
If Christian Norberg-Schulz’s endowment of inanimate objects with life is not enough to grind your gears, and the sentimentality of the expression doesn’t appal, he continues: ‘Since time immemorial, Nordic man has experienced a close relationship with wood.’ This manages the impressive trick of being both silly and sinister, and as such it points unmistakably to the Heideggerian foundation (which is certainly not of poured concrete) that lies beneath all such appeals to craft.
Norberg-Schulz was one of the first to import Heidegger’s critique of technological manufacture into architectural discourse. It was popularised by the yet more pathos-filled burbling of Pallasmaa (who calls door handles ‘the handshake of a building’) and injected into British academia with superficial conceptual integrity by Vesely. This is all philosophically odious, and its physical fruits are equally inedible: in high architecture you have the hotel lobby-esque over-richness of Williams and Tsien’s Barnes Foundation and, in a more avant-garde mode, Peter Salter’s absurd houses in Ladbroke Grove.