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建筑批评的意义何在?
What’s the Point of Architecture Criticism?

由专筑网Zia,小R编译

这篇文章最初发表在Common Edge.

究竟,建筑批评的意义何在?“批评”这个词来自希腊语的krinein,意思是分离、筛选、区分、辨别、检查或判断。根据建筑师和教育家Wayne Attoe的说法,他在《建筑与批判性想象》(Architecture and Critical Imagination)一书(现在不幸绝版)中提到了建筑批评,他说这并不一定意味着不赞成,或者寻找瑕疵,它可以是正面的,也可以是负面的;它可以是赞美的,也可以是谴责的。

Attoe将批评看做一样东西,或者说是产品,将批评视作一种行为。当作为一种行为的时候,批评是一种观察、检查的模式,是评估我们周围建筑世界的方式。如果你这样想,就很容易理解为什么批评家总是存在,因为批评是一个批评家的工作方式,很难去阻止这种行为。要求一个批评家停止批评就像要求一个人不能看到绿色一样,这就是批评家看待世界的方式。

Attoe认为,批评应该是产生更好作品的工具。实现这一目标的关键是将批评视为一种行为,而不是一种判断。谈到对批评的批判,他认为,“批评在为未来提供信息时,总是比为过去的打分时更有用”。那么,批评如何能够为未来提供信息,使更好的工作成为可能?或者,使建筑环境的质量发生变化?答案就在“非专业”建筑评论家的领域里。

今天我们沟通和分享信息的方式,可能使我们每个人都可以成为建筑评论家。今天,非专业建筑评论的渠道比以往任何时候都多。从旅游博客和TripAdvisor等网站上关于人们度假地点建筑的大量帖子中看到了这种迹象。当然,非专业的建筑评论家们似乎也都饶有兴趣。

在Alexandra Lange的《Writing About Architecture》一书中,有“人人都是批评家”的暗示,其开篇的标题是“如何成为一名建筑批评家”。Lange写了批评家如何运作,他们如何组织他们的语言,以及他们使用的方法。她的目的是要传递给公众关于批评的知识。她写道,我们需要的是“更多的批评家——公民批评家,以及改造城市的愿望和语汇”。

虽然Lange为她的读者提供了著名的建筑环境评论家的作品,如Ada Louise Huxtable、Lewis Mumford、Michael Sorkin、Frederick Law Omsted和Charles Moore作为批评的试金石,但Attoe提出了一种不同的方法,他的书比Lange的书早了大约35年,并有类似的看法,即认为我们每个人都可以成为批评家。Attoe认为,建筑批评一直在发生,并且来自于我们每个人。他指出,包括非专业批评家的工作是“一种特殊观点的产物,即人们在建筑环境中和关于建筑环境所做的一切几乎都是批评形式”。我们所有的人,建筑师和非建筑师,在很多时候都在进行评论,正如Attoe所描述的那样,“是各种行为的集合”。

这样的批评观点是一种极端的解放。虽然它挑战了我们对建筑评论家的概念,即拥有专业知识和经验的人受邀对建筑作品作出判断,但它似乎更符合人们与建筑实际互动的方式:拥抱它或逃避它。这种认识在各种批评类型中都很明显,从入住后的评估和William H. Whyte的标志性工作到今天人们与建筑世界互动的YouTube和TikTok视频。

“非专业批评家--没有接受过专业批评或设计师培训的人,或者那些没有委托项目的人,他们每天都与建筑环境打交道,直接实践他们的建筑批评。”

Attoe的非专业批评的分类包括四个领域,对环境的态度、环境中的采纳行为、对环境的无意改造和对环境的有意改造。第一种是记录在书面或口头的回应中,比如给编辑的信、个人博客、推特,以及用户对建筑的文章作出的回应。你也可以通过调查来衡量态度:例如,根据对用户的采访,一个公共空间的位置和设计是否能吸引人们去那里?

环境中的采纳行为是指非专业批评家按原样接受,不加修改。非专业评论家用他们的双脚进行投票:他们要么涌向这个场所,要么避开它。对环境的无意改造行为发生在人们无意中改变了他们所使用的环境,甚至没有意识到他们正在这样做。例如,我们都看到公共公园的草坪被磨掉了,出现了一条直线连接两点,这就是一种无意的修改,表明了行人的偏好。

对环境的有意改造是四种行为中最有趣的一个,不仅是对建筑环境的批评,同时也采取了行动,往往为了改善它。例如,在战后的Levittown,曲高和寡的Cape Cods被居民改造,以至于现在的房子都很独特。Le Corbusier于1924年在佩萨克建造的房屋也经历了类似的转变,房主们有意对其进行改造,使他们的住所更符合他们所认为的“家”的含义。研究这些改造的历史学家Phillippe Boudon写道:“Le Corbusier显然认为这个项目是失败的,他说住户‘必须改变他的观点’,但他不知道的是,住户非常轻松地改变了建筑。”

在过去的40年左右,我教过一门课程,“关于建筑的写作”,它是根据Attoe的批评分类法制定的。学生们很容易理解这个框架的用处,因为这个方法允许他们使用书面语言以外的各种手段来批评建筑环境。该课程的重点不是在正式的、专业的意义上创造新的批评家,而是帮助学生更多的评论——作为对建筑世界的一种回应行为,并鼓励他们阐明建筑观点,可以作为评估他们自己和其他建筑的一个部分。我相信,这将使学生受到更好的教育,并最终培养出更好的建筑师和设计师,让他们明白他们不可能是客观的,他们从一个非常主观的有利位置看世界,并且其他人也会这样做。没有人可以成为一个客观的批评家。E.B. White对这一点表达得最清楚,他写道:“凡是动笔的人都是在写自己”。同时,我想补充的是,即使她写的是建筑。

在一个每个人都有可能成为批评家的世界里,这样的工具是无价的,因为它们帮助我们组织经验,看到现有的东西,以及未来的可能。诗人William Butler Yeats写道:“有另一个世界,但它就在这个世界里”,这可能是对非专业建筑评论家工作的描述。非专业的建筑评论家与专业的建筑评论家一样,希望能够有所作为,就算不能立即改变我们周围的建筑世界,也可以重新构筑我们每个人内心潜在的建筑世界。

This article was originally published on Common Edge.
What, exactly, is the point of architecture criticism? The word “criticism” is derived from the Greek term krinein, meaning to separate, to sift, to make distinctions, to discern, to examine, or to judge. According to Wayne Attoe, an architect and educator who writes about architecture criticism in his book Architecture and Critical Imagination (now sadly out of print), this does not necessarily mean to disapprove of, or to find fault with. It can be favorable or unfavorable; it can praise or condemn.
Attoe makes the distinction between criticism as a thing—a product—and criticism as a behavior. As a behavior, criticism is a mode of seeing, of examining, the way in which we assess the built world around us. If you think of it this way, it’s easy to understand why critics are always “on,” so to speak. Being critical is a critic’s modus operandi. It’s hard to just turn it off. Asking a critic to stop being critical is like asking someone to stop seeing the color green. It’s the way the critic beholds the world.
Criticism, Attoe argues, should be a tool for generating better work. The key to achieving this is to see criticism as a behavior and not a judgment. When it comes to being critical of criticism, Attoe observes that “criticism will always be more useful when it informs the future than when it scores the past.” So how might criticism be useful in informing the future, to make better work possible—essentially, to make a difference in the quality of the built environment? The answer lies in the realm of the “lay” architecture critic.
How we communicate and share information today potentially makes every one of us an architecture critic. There are more outlets today for the lay architecture critic than ever before. We see signs of this in the wealth of travel blogs and posts on sites like TripAdvisor about the architecture of the places where people vacation. There certainly seems to be an interest among nonprofessional architecture critics.
There’s a hint of this blossoming of “everyone a critic” in Alexandra Lange’s book Writing About Architecture, whose opening chapter is titled “How to Be an Architecture Critic.” Lange writes about how critics operate, how they structure their critiques, and the methods they use. Her intent is to educate the public about criticism. What we need, she writes, “are more critics—citizen critics—equipped with the desire and the vocabulary to remake the city.”
While Lange offers her readers the work of noted commentators of the built environment—such as Ada Louise Huxtable, Lewis Mumford, Michael Sorkin, Frederick Law Omsted, and Charles Moore—as touchstones of criticism, a different approach is suggested by Attoe, whose book predates Lange’s by some 35 years and has a similar mission to transform each of us into a critic. Attoe’s approach asserts that architectural criticism is happening all the time, by everyone, if we choose to recognize it. He notes that what we might include as the work of the lay critic is “the product of a particular point of view, namely that virtually everything people do in and about the built environment is a form of criticism.” All of us, architects and non-architects, engage in criticism much of the time, in an “ongoing collection of diverse behaviors,” as Attoe describes it.
Such a view of criticism is liberating in the extreme. While it challenges our conception of the architecture critic as someone with specialized knowledge and experience who is anointed to pass judgment on works of architecture, it seems to be much more in line with the way people actually interact with architecture: by embracing it or running from it. That recognition is evident in a variety of critique types, everything from post-occupancy building evaluations and the landmark work of William H. Whyte to YouTube and TikTok videos today of people interacting with the built world.
“Lay critics—people not trained as professional critics or designers, or those who don’t commission projects—interact with the built environment every day and practice their architecture criticism directly.”
Attoe’s taxonomy of lay criticism includes four realms: Attitude Toward the Environment, Adoptive Behavior Within the Environment, Unintentional Modification of the Environment, and Intentional Modification of the Environment. The first is recorded in written or verbal responses in such forums as letters to the editor, personal blogs, tweets, and comments to articles about architecture that users make in response to it. You can also gauge attitude through surveys: for example, based on interviews with users, is the location and design of a public space inviting for people to be there?
Adoptive Behavior Within the Environment means that the lay critic accepts it as is, without modification. Lay critics vote with their feet; they either flock to a public place or avoid it. Unintentional Modification of the Environment happens when people unintentionally change the environments they use without even realizing they’re doing it. For example, we’ve all seen grass in a public park worn away connecting two points with a straight line; it’s an unintentional modification, indicating a preference on the part of the pedestrian.
Intentional Modification of the Environment, perhaps the most interesting of the quartet, is a critique of the built environment in which the lay critic intentionally acts upon it, often to improve it. For example, in postwar Levittown identical, cookie-cutter Cape Cods were modified by residents over the years to the point where the houses are now all different. Le Corbusier’s housing in Pessac, built in 1924, underwent similar transformation, as the homeowners intentionally modified them to make their domiciles more what they thought a “home” should be. The historian Phillippe Boudon who studied these modifications writes: “Le Corbusier, who apparently considered this project a failure, stated that the tenant ‘must change his outlook,’ but unbeknownst to him, it was the tenant who with great ease changed the architecture.”
For the past 40 years or so I’ve taught a course, “Writing About Architecture,”that is formulated on Attoe’s taxonomy of criticism. Students readily apprehend the usefulness of this framework, in that it allows them to critique the built environment using a variety of means beyond the written word. The point of the course is not to create new critics in the formal, professional sense, but to help students to be more critical—as a behavior—of the built world and to encourage them to articulate an architectural point of view that can be used as a lens to assess architecture, their own and that of others. This leads, I believe, to a better-educated student and ultimately to better architects—designers who understand that they cannot be objective, that they see the world from a very personal vantage point, and that they can expect the same of others. No one can be an objective critic. E.B. White expressed this best when he wrote, “Whoever sets pen to paper writes of himself.” And, I would add, even if she writes about architecture.
In a world where everyone is potentially a critic, such tools are invaluable because they help us to organize our experiences and see what is there, as well as what the future could be. The poet William Butler Yeats could have been describing the promise of the work of the lay architecture critic when he wrote, “There is another world, but it is in this one.” The lay critic shares with the professional one the hope to make a difference, if not immediately in the built world around us, then in the potential built world inside each one of us.

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