Urban Space and Landscape

What effects will the international economic crisis ultimately have on architecture and the building industry? As the world speculates on the scale of these upheavals and the influence they will have on the construction sector, one thing is certain: the years of prodigality and sculptural excess are over for the time being. That, at least, is the view of British architect David Chipperfield. In a recent interview, he predicted the end of buildings with any kind of “Wow! factor”. In recent years, architectural debate has been dominated largely by extravagant icons that were intent upon setting an unmistakable sign rather than integrating themselves into the surroundings, fulfilling a function or complying with the needs of sustainability. Opened in Munich only a year ago, BMW World is the epitome of luxury marketing architecture for the automobile industry – an industry that is currently shaken by one horror scenario after another, by lay-offs and cuts in expenditure. Despite justified criticism of its waste and excess, BMW World has become a genuine centre for new experiences and a magnet for visitors, with a bold spatial concept that fascinates the professional and layman alike. Yet a project like this would scarcely be conceivable today: a gigantic structure that might soon resemble a fossil from a bygone age.
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