We’ve heard conflicting reports over the past several months—sometimes the forecast is dire and other times it’s positive. But one area where there is definite suffering is in the architecture sector, which many consultants believe is the proverbial canary in the coalmine of construction: after all, if architects have nothing to design, then what is there to build?
How Diseases Shaped Architecture in the Past
An in-depth article in The New Yorker last month described the history of modern architecture and came to the conclusion that much of what we view as “modern sensibilities” can be traced back to the tuberculosis epidemic of the early 20th century. Specifically, a groundbreaker was the 1933 Paimio Sanitorium, a hospice for tuberculosis patients in Finland, designed by Hugo Alvar Henrik Aalto, was a big shift away from the 1920s and 1910s. What had been the norm: dark buildings lit with lamps and fires, covered with fabrics and draperies, was all gone. The new sanitorium was “rigidly geometric, with long walls of expansive windows wrapping its façade, light-colored rooms, and a wide roof terrace with railings like the ones on cruise ships—all the hallmarks of what we now know as modernist architecture.” In fact, this rigid geometric shape and long expansive windows can describe just about every skyscraper being built for the last seventy years, in true Bauhaus tradition.