Towards a New Architecture: "Bricolagism"

I read this little exchange on Brownstoner (where this image is from) about the particular hideousness of a recent residential development and it's as though someone proved to me that pigs were flying. Is it possible that buildings like this (left) and this are actually designed, on purpose, by architects?
A commenter from the Brownstoner article thought that the designers for this building were a firm called "Brickology" (which, though very wrong, is kind of brilliant). My quick google search for a company I thought might be called "bricology" yielded "bricology.com" which had a very architecturally-oriented definition of bricolage:

bricolage ("brE-kO-'läzh, "bri-):
• construction or something constructed by using whatever comes to hand
• an assemblage improvised from materials ready to hand, or the practice of transforming 'found' materials by incorporating them into a new work
Now I've only recently waded into the pool of Brooklyn real estate gossip and goings-on so it was news to me when I subsequently found out that the firm Bricolage Design existed, and that owner/architect Henry Radusky was already on the "Wanted!" posters. Can it be true that these people named their firm without a trace of irony?
Not sure if BD are the designers of these exemplary instances of (Real Estate) Bubble Architecture but I am fascinated by the notion that Brooklyn is being reshaped by "design with whatever is at hand."
Certainly many lower-end Do-It Yourself renovators appear to be schooled in the art of bricolage -- gleaning random material from the sale-price bin at Lowes. However this is often accompanied by the very sincere intent to improve the building and to display monetary status with the proud proclamation of one's taste. That, in my mind, is DIY-ism: owners/builders mimicking architecture and miming the gestures. DIY-ism is the karaoke of architecture. Most developer-driven real estate has neither the sincerity mitigating the mess nor any of the fun. This particular form of developer-driven architecture is Bricolagism. Architectural pastiche born of witless* economic expediency. Bricolagism is like Post-Modernism without the irony.
(*as opposed to Brutalism which was almost too smart for its own good)


Anonymous said...

Bricolage was the original designer of the nouveau-brownstone buildings on Greene between Washington and St. James in Clinton Hill. Their original design was in pinky-yellow stucco with wrought iron balconies and looked like something from Tel Aviv (Menachem Shagalov was the developer). They presented the design to the Society for Clinton Hill and were surprised at the (predictable) reaction. The Society assigned a local architect to work with Bricolage to try to come up with something that would fly past Landmarks, and what you see now was the result. Far from perfect, but nowhere near as bad as it was originally. Trouble is, the stuff they're doing now isn't in landmarked areas, and not subject to the same kind of contextual review...

Anonymous said...

indeed, bricolage spits out tens (hundreds?) of projects a year, none of which are inspirational and few of which that are not exceedingly bland. I can usually pick out a bricolage building right away, although there are a couple of other firms that do work almost as bad. The best building they have that I know of is between 4th and 5th Aves near Carroll street or something, it's a large brick building with decent detailing. Other than that, no.

There have also been instances in which bricolage has built the exact same "design" in multiple locations...


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