A group of young designers offers “possible mediums” instead of buildings.
Theory has seemed so last millennium for so long that I am happy to report that it is back. For the first time this century, architecture theory is coalescing into a semblance of coherence. While this is a “discourse” that might not be unified (and, in fact, is against any such unity) and might not yet have a great deal of impact on practice, it does make sense of how and why we design in a manner that is appropriate to what is happening in our culture and our society.
The New Normal proper distinguishes itself from, but also contains elements of, Triple O (Object-Oriented Ontology), which has captured the minds of theory-oriented designers across the country. It also answers to a wider interest in looking beyond monuments and traditional aesthetics and to the everyday and even the ugly as characteristics that might be appropriate for our social-media-fueled diverse age. And it justifies its work not so much through abstract theories as it does with storytelling, fairy tales, and other “fake” realities.
In appearance, the New Normal looks remarkably like a revival of both the Postmodernism of the collage (think James Stirling and Michael Graves) and the narrative variety (John Hejduk and Bernard Tschumi, FAIA), as well as the first experiments in blobs that appeared in the 1990s. As such, it also revives a debate between whether architecture is about abstract orders and forms that you impose on the world or if it is instead about the registering and critical elaboration of the existing world.