Talking with Walls

A quote from architect Louis Kahn: And if you think of Brick, for instance, and you say to Brick, "What do you want Brick?" And Brick says to you "I like an Arch." And if you say to Brick "Look, arches are expensive, and I can use a concrete lentil over you. What do you think of that?" "Brick?" Brick says: "... I like an Arch"” Mr. Kahn is alluding to two important design concepts: Medium Specificity and Object Language. Object Language is dramatized above by a talking brick, but we can apply the concept to any designed system when we ask the question, "What is this thing designed to say to me?" Examples:

"I was built carefully. I'll be here a long time."

"I've been adapted over my long, useful lifetime."

"I'm required to occupy a rectangular space. Also, I hate you."

Architect 1: So we should minimize the windows on the western face to cut glare and solar gain. How about a blank steel wall? Architect 2: Sure, sure. Everybody loves those. But should we maybe design something useful for that side of the building? #1: Like a series of arbitrarily placed rectangles painted onto the steel? #2: YES. That was JUST what this building needed.  High five, licensed architect!
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One Response to Talking with Walls

  1. James Lobb says:

    I come away from this feeling sorry that you have no brick arches in your neighborhood.

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