The Designosaur Story

02: Trying to name it

I enjoyed my stroll, but I discovered more and more CDB relatives. At least, I suspected they were relatives. With the Anthropocene thesis in mind, I stared at them and wondered, "Is there something wrong with these buildings? Or is it just me?". After a while, impressive images appeared in my mind's eye. Images of the mines from which we extracted the limestone, iron and sand to build these buildings. I saw tankers on the sea. Loaded with oil for the insulation and waterproofing we put on everything. I saw power stations to heat and cool the buildings and amazingly large piles of rubbish. It was disturbing.

I closed my eyes and hoped the images would disappear.

When I opened my eyes again, my perception had changed. I saw the CDB and its relatives in a different light. These buildings cannot be "contemporary design buildings". There should be another term to name them.

I grabbed my sketchbook

(yes, every architect ALWAYS carries a sketchbook - really!), sat down on a bench and started writing down my thoughts.

It’s supposedly called good design - well done, accurate and innovative.

It’s being built now. Not in the past and hopefully not in the future.

It’s not about using new or old technologies.

It uses technology as though it were jewellery or make-up to adapt. But does not question its inner values.

It likes to look at details but refuses to look at overarching issues.

It’s very serious and has no self-irony or playfulness.

It’s not appropriate or doesn’t fit the new circumstances.

It’s most likely designed for or by a white, male and wealthy person.

It’s very familiar to us and everyone's darling.

I wasn't sure what to call it yet.... but obviously there was something wrong with the contemporary-design-building. It was obviously a building. And it was obviously design... but was it contemporary?