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The ability of “starchitects” to capture our admiration is limited by the Law of Diminishing Shock Value – Figurative Architecture might be the radical step-change they’re looking for.
A few years ago I wondered why there’s apparently so little demand from the public for major new buildings that look like old ones; and why there isn’t more pressure for architecture with elaborate decoration and figurative references (see Why do we love old buildings so much?). It’s a puzzling question because people generally have enormous affection for old buildings, especially grand and ornate edifices like the long-demolished Federal Coffee Palace in Melbourne.
here’re a number of possible reasons for this fondness, including, of course, historical significance. An important one, though, is that the look of old buildings seems to connect with us at an emotional level.There’s a romantic dimension to old buildings. Some traditional architectural styles evoke literary and emotional associations, probably based on what we’ve read or seen. Some also have decoration and relief sculpture based on, or drawn from, life.