Owen Hatherley, photo by 3am Magazine

Architecture "no longer interested in anything but its own image"

News: the way architecture is consumed through websites like Dezeen is "utterly disastrous", according to UK critic Owen Hatherley (above).

Writing about modern architecture and modern photography for the Photographers' Gallery website, Hatherley says sites like Dezeen and Archdaily "provide little but glossy images of buildings that you will never visit, lovingly formed into photoshopped, freeze-dried glimmers of non-orthogonal perfection, in locations where the sun, of course, is always shining."

He adds: "In art, this approach to reproduction is dubious enough, but in architecture – where both physical experience and location in an actual place are so important – it’s often utterly disastrous, a handmaiden to an architectural culture that no longer has an interest in anything but its own image."

Hatherley goes on to explore "the symbiotic relationship between photography and architecture", tracing the way photography helped popularise and market the modern movement from the 1920s – and even influenced the buildings themselves.

The early works of Le Corbusier were brightly coloured, Hatherley says, as were buildings by Gerrit Reitveld and Bruno Taut. "Yet by the start of the 1930s, the modern movement’s most famous buildings, like Mies van der Rohe’s Villa Tugendhat or Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye, were almost exactly as monochrome as the (many) photographs taken of them," Hatherley writes.

The article was commissioned by The Photographers' Gallery in London as part of a series of critical essays on photography in the 21st Century.

Owen Hatherley is the author of books including Militant Modernism, A Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain and A New Kind of Bleak: Journeys Through Urban Britain.

Photograph is by 3am Magazine.