A reaction to Modernist straitjackets, explicit in the work of Form4 Architecture, needs to be seen in context. That being Modernism’s own reaction to 19th-century industrialisation and the growth of cities, it echoes a precedent for what is happening across Asia today. William Blake’s criticism of ‘dark satanic mills’ bears some similarities to later criticisms of the soulless nature of debased International Style commercial architecture, which took the world by storm when too many commercial clients realized that ‘Less is more’ could easily be interpreted as ‘Less architectural quality equals more profit’.
The quest by John Marx and his partners to find a poetic language with which to reconcile the efficiencies of Modernism with the lyricism of earlier attitudes to architecture is a fascinating one. At a simple level it is about geometry: curves are preferred to straight lines; sculptural form outguns orthogonal grids. But the underlying rationale for this approach is more complex. It suggests that the private life of any piece of architecture lies in the mind of its creator architect – rather than the formal programme of the client or the quotidian uses to which the building may be put.