Ornament as links

click on images for full-size:

Joining of materials at the Nordic embassy, Berlin

Ages mixed at a movie shoot in Chicago

Medieval cathedrals indicated their links to other places, and to an overall vision of the cosmos, with sculpture and imagery as well as architecture. Should we then bring back statues and stained glass? What would be their modern equivalents? If we could reinvigorate architectural ornament in suburbia, what would it be? Would it be figural? Local allusions? Would it be some contemporary equivalent of mid-twentieth century streamlining on vehicles and appliances? Would ornament appropriate to our world be static objects, or play across changing screens?

There is a clue in Louis Kahn's remark that "the joint is the beginning of ornament." (Kahn 1987, 9) Although Kahn said this about the joints between materials, we could extend it to the joints between functions and places, the intersections of global and local, transit and home, inner and outer, on which suburban life depends. We could find ornamental and architectural ways of making those transitions and joinings salient, and so making the complexities of the whole more visible in the parts.