How many roses for the third millennium?

A well known fable tells of a Chinese farmer who leased a piece of land on which to grow rice to feed his family

A well known fable tells of a Chinese farmer who leased a piece of land on which to grow rice to feed his family. About a year later, an inspector arrived to evaluate the use of the land on behalf of the Canton. While touring the plot, his eye set upon a single beautiful rose growing at the fields edge. When asked the meaning of "this blatant waste of land", the farmer answered: "The rice is to live on - the rose is to live for".

Although the story occurred in faraway China, it is relevant to almost every aspect of our modern lives, and particularly to architecture, which has always debated the role of "decoration". The moral of the tale can be interpreted in a variety of ways, depending upon ones outlooks and attitudes. For me, it expresses above all the subject of "dosage". I often relate to students of architecture a personal proverb, "One beauty spot is preferred over a sea of freckles, or in your case - a field of pimples", to teach them that a good building can suffice with one or two beauty spots. The more you decorate is not necessarily the better.

A building, like a person, should be judged in accordance with the times, and in relation to place of development. Building styles have always been characterized (in architecture as in art and dress) by a fashionable preference - between a classic minimalism and a maximalist Rococo. The question remains, "How many roses must one grow in order to eat one kilo of rice?"

If I were asked to describe the situation of architecture as we excitedly approach the third millennium, I would point out that we are suffering today from overdose of forms, just as we are suffering from an overdose of fat. The international bigshots are still producing strange buildings that land in city centers like UFOs, but financiers will soon realize that although some of them are utterly impressive, overdesign does not necessarily have any thing to do with good architecture. Only then, perhaps, can we move on to easier times

P.S. God willing.


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