- The Absurdity of Beauty, John Marx Form4 Architecture
San Francisco-based studio, Form4 Architecture, which we have already discussed in our blog (Hanover Page Mill, Falling Lotus), stands out for its design approach, embracing the sustainability of the environment as well as the aesthetics. This concept is a cornerstone of the studio's architects, as the title of the recent publication by John Marx, co-founding principal and chief artistic officer of Form4 Architecture indicates. The book made its debut in summer and was presented at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. It also marks the studio's 20th year of creating architecture that responds to energy efficiency, to site topography and to user experience, at the same time promoting ideas and advances in urbanism, community and civility.
Unlike any of your usual architectural anthologies or monographs, The Absurdity of Beauty is a hybrid publication, exploring its argument through a mix of built and proposed work and essays. John Marx addresses the issues raised together with an international group of contributing writers, including Paul Finch, Catherine Slessor, Pierluigi Serraino, AIA, Jeremy Melvin, Richard England, Hon. FAIA, Ian Ritchie, Hon. FAIA, Sam Lubell, Jay Merrick, and Paul Ferro, AIA.
Most of the watercolour illustrations are by John Marx. And these watercolours - so different from the over-the-top realism of renderings and the latest fad of desaturated photos - are, in fact, the leitmotif of the whole book, adding a real touch of poetry. The book also underscores the return of analogical and manual techniques as a narrative of the world, since watercolour gives us a kind of hint, an insight, rather than showing us something outright. With that, it opens up new horizons to our imagination, a precious tool in today's cultural debate.
As Marx explains, “This began as a fundamental look at the successes and failures of Modernism. We suggest a way to rebalance things is with a greater emphasis on emotional meaning, cultural vibrancy, and creativity, all with the thought of turning architecture and urbanism toward abundance.” A clear no to the perpetual notion of less is more that has never really convinced Form4 Architecture, which instead has been a dominant force on the architecture scene for many years, producing, it must be said, more than just masterpieces worth preserving.
The Absurdity of Beauty. Rebalancing the Modernist Narrative by John Marx, published by The Architectural Review hopes to stimulate wider discussion about the changing role of architecture in 21st-century society, rethinking Silicon Valley architecture and the architect as a calligrapher, as well as the desire to craft buildings buzzing with energy, places that are positive and sustainable. All proceeds from the book will be contributed to Magic Theatre, San Francisco, which is dedicated to creative risk.
The Absurdity of Beauty: Rebalancing the Modernist Narrative
By Form4 Architecture
Published by The Architectural Review
75 pages with tipped-in postcard/full color/22cm x 30cm