Kent Bloomer – The Necessity For Ornament

Lecture date: 2008-10-30

Kent Bloomer proposes that the figuration and syntax of ornament constitute a very particular type of visual ‘language’ in architecture that is distinct from symbol-making, programmatic signage, pictorialising or articulating local space and structure. Yet it may incorporate all of these agendas. By being mediative, malleable, erotic, and ambivalent, ornament is able to engage multiple grounds simultaneously. Its combinational line work addresses both the physical building and the ‘physics’ of the natural world at large. It typically creates space by colonising and magnifying the transitions between things such as wall-ceiling, inside-outside, earth, elevation, and sky. Its timeless and necessary purpose is to fulfil the potential of architectural design in the public domain.

Kent Bloomer is Professor, Yale School of Architecture and Principal, Bloomerstudio, New Haven, Connecticut. Major projects include: luminaires, Central Park, NYC, roof ornament, Chicago Public Library, Endwall trellis, Reagan National Airport, Washington, DC. He is the principal author of Body, Memory, and Architecture, and the author of The Nature of Ornament. He has written and lectured widely on ornament in the US, Ireland, England, Canada, Mexico and Taiwan.

‘Ornament’ Lecture Series co-ordinated by Oliver Domeisen.


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