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* Chris Abel *
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Venturi too, professes an inclination for complementary elements: 'I prefer "both-and" to "either-or", black and white, and sometimes grey, to black or white.' He also admires a related quality of 'tension' in architecture, meaning the tension that arises from controlled and purposeful ambiguity. But despite passing references to other factors it is always clear that what Venturi means are the visual ambiguities created by his favourite mannerist, baroque and rococo architects.

There exists another kind of ambiguity, however; not the surface tension that arises out of a narrow concern with form but the essential tension that has always existed and will continue to exist between tradition and modernity in all its complementary facets. The social, cultural and environmental issues that arise out of this endless give and take between the past, present and future are unlikely to be resolved by the kind of siege mentality which dictates most Postmodern architecture. For all its faults, Modern architecture was created out of an open-minded belief in both the necessity and virtue of experimentation and making the most out of the available knowledge of the day, from whatever source. At its best it was a profoundly liberating movement. Where orthodox Modernists went wrong was not just in their Platonic choice of standard forms but in the limited interpretations of modern science and technology which they used to justify what were all along aesthetic prejudices. Real modern science and technology, as opposed to the simple myths that still govern most architects' conceptions, is both more responsive to the complex human condition and a great deal more interesting than either orthodox Modernists or Postmodernists ever dreamt it to be. It is out of exposure to such knowledge and other cultural exchanges of substance that the more valuable hybrid architecture of the future will emerge, not from any introverted exercises in style.

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* From: 'The essential tension'. Architecture and Urbanism, August 1991, pp. 45-46. *
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