The competition proposal by Prechteck for Buenos Aries’ new art museum is bold and dramatic. But it has also run into controversy from some quarters for its arguably weak site response.
The debate raises an interesting question that is being played-out in many countries, particularly where there is rapid development occurring.
What extent is civic architecture obliged to respond to the site context as the hierarchically superior consideration?
Considering Greek classical architectural hierarchy: if the matrix of buildings responds or defers to the parti, does the parti need necessarily defer to its site? The Greeks of course thought it did, the Romans far less so, appearing to consider their civic buildings more as expressions of power rather than taste. The early, classically trained Modernists, thought genius loci important, but as that movement progressed, this viewpoint appeared to diminish, particularly as architectural education itself changed.
In recent years, there has arguably been a resurgence in classical values in urban design. But with emerging economic powers keen to announce their presence on the world stage, will the politicians that commission those important civic buildings ever be able to resist the attraction of stunning if brash architecture?
Alternatively is this debate just the last bastion of architectural snobbery for declining economic and cultural powers?