ABSTRACT

Legal stimulants brought artists and scientists such as Gustav Klimt and Sigmund Freud together at the beginning of the twentieth century, the fin de siècle, at the end of everything past. Although only charged for coffee on the bill, what writers, painters and philosophers consumed in the extended living space of the famous Viennese coffee house was of a much more substantial nature: time, space and ideas. Architecture perhaps? For the first time since the Enlightenment the debate on modernity became accessible for only the cost of a kleiner or großer Brauner.2 Hours and hours spent sipping coffee resulted, while the ongoing debate was safely cordoned off by sturdy curtains for any length of quantitative time. No quantitative value, however, could express the ideas that arose through the cross-fertilization of science and art, yet in our post-postmodern times the balance between these two poles needs to be restored once again. In architecture this is most essentially because the cultural side of the debate expanded in the late twentieth century and until recently had come to dominate the profession. However, today’s architects can no longer concern themselves purely with aesthetics. It is for some time now that aesthetics no longer carry the all-encompassing meaning they once enjoyed, neither in architecture nor in a wider cultural context. In architecture today, aesthetics are moreover linked to a healthy form of provocation, with the architect now in a position to reference other creative disciplines (such as art, fashion, literature, etc.), but we can no longer rely solely on theory or the ‘iconic’ when designing for a contemporary world and within an expanded profession.