Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Day 105: Canadian Architecture is Brutal

Oddly enough, studying books and printing can easily turn into studying architecture, by way of studying typography.

It makes sense enough when you really think about it, but it is kind of roundabout.

You see, a dominant architecture demonstrates the trendy aesthetic of an era/region/culture. The same kind of design principles that influence the architecture also influence what fonts look like and which ones are popular.

Gutenberg was German, Gothic architecture was huge, and he was trying to recreate the look of Gothic manuscript. So his font was Gothic.

But when the Italians took the title of Capital of Printing away from Germany, they hated the Gothic font as much as they hated the Gothic architecture. I mean, how many well known Gothic cathedrals, etc, are there in Italy? So they developed pretty, dainty little Roman fonts, and used sweeping italics.

And so architectural preferences have marched hand in hand with typographic preferences.

Lesson 106: Canada really latched onto Concrete Brutalism.
Scott Library at York University
And honestly, I don't understand why. That shit's hideous! But the main library here at McGill, the library at York U, buildings across the country are these huge, imposing, blocky monstrosities with exposed, raw concrete everywhere. No thank you!

I suppose it probably has something to do with under-emphasized windows being friendlier to insulating for our Canadian winters, but still. Yuck.

Luckily, Bauhaus, also called the new International style, started catching on. It's still very minimalist, with no ornamentation, but at least it breaks up the concrete a little with steel and glass.

Place Ville-Marie
Just look at Place Ville-Marie in Montreal. Sure it isn't the prettiest building, but at least it isn't a complete eyesore!

Photos from Wikimedia Commons

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