Wednesday, 12 September 2007


I should have started this entry by talking about those photos. All show constructions I like very much. The first two are houses for sale at the French Atlantic coast, between Bordeaux and Biarritz. For the other ones, just read the text (that has become a bit too long).

Before coming here in 1998, I lived for 15 years in Neuilly, a suburb of Paris. I suppose that most people would agree with the statement that Paris is a beautiful city. And that's true.

However, if you look closely at that beauty you might realize that what is considered beautiful is at least hundred years old or more.

Have a look at all those constructions realized in the sixties, seventies etc. - in Paris and elsewhere - and you see lots of glass, steel and concrete put together at right angle as cheap as possible. Kind of boxes of different sizes.

Over the years I came to the conclusion that our modern ugliness is materialized by the right angle. Everything and anything looks aggressively square and I have the impression these are the modern barbarians. Lame brain barbarians utterly devoid of creativity and fantasy.

Talking about architecture I think we have at least a big chance. All this square concrete stuff is of very poor quality. Years ago I showed a friend the modern opera house in Paris (Opéra Bastille) about a year after its completion. There was already rust seeping out between the marble plates fixed on the outer wall to hide the concrete.

In 2002 I went to Berlin, my home town, and was shown around there. The infamous Berlin Wall had vanished without any trace and the town was once again the country's capital. So I had a look at the government buildings, situated right at the river Spree. Madre de Dios. Concentrated cheap ugliness everywhere. You look at it and depression crawls up and engulfs you.

One might think that modern buildings and houses must be ugly. But that is not so. Have a look at those two buildings. The first is a newly erected museum in Paris (Musée Quai Branly) and the other one is a building that has been erected with the help of the Austrian painter Hundertwasser (Hundertwasser-Haus in Vienna). And there are some quite good looking big buildings in the so called "third world" countries, like in Dubai or Kuala-Lumpur.

The first photo (the last added) shows a typical house in the Périgord region. In the background you see the quite recent Museum of Prehistory. To me, the latter looks a bit like an air raid bunker, though in sandstone and not in concrete.


  1. Hi George,

    Thank you for your visit to neoresistance.

    I agree with you to a large extent. However, the Iranian government has been working very hard to address the scruitinizing pressure from the international community.

    That they have spend money on Iraq is not something that is buying them any votes in Iran. In fact Iranians are quite unhappy about the government's generousity towards others.

  2. Howdy! I found Europe quite beautiful, as age tends to do that to ya!

    I was in Berlin for a month in '89 before the Wall came down, and in '90 for a month after it came down. I was fully impressed with so much, it can't be reproduced here, as I wouldn't want to bore you.

    Although I never believe all that I hear here in the US, when I came back from the 1st visit, it was quite clear, we u=indeed are not the best the world has to offer!
    ; (

  3. Hey Coffee,

    Thanks for commenting. Well, I see, there is more ugly and less ugly. And, naturally, there is, too, the question of taste. As to the United States, I've never been there. However, in case you have ever had the chance to read Bill Bryson - a great American writer of travels worldwide - it seems your country as well has achieved master status in creating hideous architecture.

    Yes, Coffee, have some fun and read a book from Bill B. Start with "Notes from a small Island", its about England. Very funny.*


  4. Bonjour Georg,

    My blog is open again. Had a lot on my plate last 6 weeks.

  5. I think beauty could be considered a reflection of the labor put into the project. (I sound like a Marxist). It's a lot easier to cheaply through up a steel building than to carve something from a single block of marble.

  6. When I saw those two pictures with the title "on ugliness" above them I was a tad confused, cause (in my opinion) they're beeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaautiful! I'm glad you think so too :)

  7. Hallo Octavian,

    Thanks for commenting. First time you do so and within the next hour I'll have a look at your blog to get to know you a little.

    As to your comment, I totally agree with what you say. Friends of mine always laughed at me when I said not having any confidence in an ugly car. Because ugliness is created by fast work and little thought. I consider regarding cars, for instance, that such loss of aesthetics could easily mean that such a car is technically botched, too.

  8. Comment for "Girl on the Run",

    Hi, I don't dare to say Hi Girly, this would be strange, wouldn't it?
    I'll have a look to find out how your commentators say.

    Yes, those two pics wanted to show what I consider beautiful modern architecture.

    I just came back from a small holiday in Périgord and had a possibility so make a photo showing at the same time a beautiful house and a bunker-like structure.

    I'll upload it to this blog in the next hours.
    Cheers to you

  9. Ah the new picture makes me sad! The bunker looks like a prison. What a contrast to the two beautiful houses around it. Specially the one with the white doors, the parasol and the cute lamp.

    PS: About the name, one of my commentators called me Runnergirl once and that really made my day :)

  10. "Everything and anything looks aggressively square and I have the impression these are the modern barbarians'

    It's same here in one bothers or cares about the beauty that an architectural design can bring to life...people are too busy too look up and see the cities anymore

  11. Thanks for your visits to my blog.

    Bill Bryson is great. I myself just finished that book you mention, and the other two books in his Collector's edition. You should also read, "I'm a stranger here myself." Very good.

    My boyfriend would tend to agree with you that most architects stink. "Lame brained barbarians." I like that. I am curious about what you'd say about this house:

    Also, have you reset your counter? I know you have more visitors than 46! :)

  12. Bonjour Monica,

    Thanks for giving me this link. I had a look at the "Golden Residence". Well, to tell you the sad truth, it is not my cup of tea but that might be mainly due to the fact that I have some dislike for right angle constructions. But that does not mean I would like to dwell in a kind of ball.

    Unfortunately, you do not seem to have an email-address attached to your blog. So I am obliged to add 2 more houses to my blog, just to show you what beautiful housing means to me, personally. Have a look.

    As to my counter. What can I do? This counter might be counting miserly!

    Cheers, Monica, greetings to your friend.


  13. Like Monica, I like the term " Lame brain barbarians". it is funny I liked the right angle constructions, if built very well. The steel,the glass, the warehouse type - but may be I am looking at it with a utilitarian point of view. yes, these right angles are an eyesore. And I find comfort when I pass by old houses, old very old houses - barn like, curvy, woody, nicely ventilated but our architects are busy building right angled ...

  14. That's a nice looking house you've added!

  15. Thanks Coffee,

    These are two different houses though they look alike. This architecture is typical for the region though it would be a lie to say they all look like this.

    Anyway, you could buy it with your spare money (all Americans are rich).

    I really like the region and especially because there is Europe's highest sand dune and I go there for paragliding.


  16. mmmmm i like those houses as well.

    There's a great book by an American architect called Sarah Susanka. I think you'd like her books very much. "The Not So Big House" series.

    What I like about the older European architecture is that is seems more appreciative of style and function. Plus, things are built to last. While a house might actually be smaller, it might be more expensive due to addition of fine wood, etc. There's something very nice in wandering through a very old building and wondering about its previous occupants. That kind of history is lost to Americans except in all of our oldest buildings. I have a friend who has a wooden house built in the 1700s, and it's a truly fascinating and wonderful building that conjures up lots of imaginations about the past.

    As for your counter, the last time I was here it was in the hundreds... that's all.

  17. Hallo Monica,

    Yes, I'll have a look at Sarah Susanka. Thanks for indicating it.


  18. Hi Georg,
    This is an interesting discussion and I enjoyed many of the pictures on your blog. I am going to link you and will be back.

  19. Le magnifique musée du quai branly ! Je l'ai photographié aussi ce mur végétal de Michel Blanc l'année dernière, je n'avais pu pénétrer à l'intérieur car la file d'attente était trop longue. Cette année, j'ai pu y pénétrer et voir les magnifiques jardins. Je dois reconnaitre que le temps magnifique m'a permis de faire des photos pour mon blog cergipontin
    Le temps qu'il fait aussi, quelque fois peut enjoliver les choses qui nous entourent. Le soleil le ciel bleu ce jour là avait illuminé ce musée. J'avais l'impression qu'il avait un coté primitif merveilleux...

    Berlin, splendide capitale. Ma fille y a vêcu deux ans et nous y sommes allés souvent. Pas assez pour nous imprégner comme nous aurions aimé de cette ville empreinte du poids de l'histoire...

  20. Ein Spaziergang durch diesen Blog ist nett, die Diskussion über schöne oder häßliche Architektur ist interessant und das Hundertwasser-Haus hier zu sehen war eine große Überraschung!

  21. Hallo,

    Thanks for visiting. Architektur lag mir schon immer am Herzen. Eines Tages hoffe ich, das Hunderwasser-Haus in Wien im Original sehen zu können.