“The Insidious Return Of Hippie Architecture”

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Google HQ by BIG and Heatherwick

Opinion: Google’s techno-utopian campus design and style by Huge and Heatherwick is portion of a new wave of curiosity in remarkably self-centred “hippie architecture”, says Mimi Zeiger.


Let us talk about the insidious return of hippie architecture. In excess of the past year, as trend-watchers tracked the disciplinary resurrection of Postmodernism and the painful deconstruction of Brutalism, a shaggier architecture shuffled into the room bringing with it a waft of patchouli.

Viewers of Mad Guys know what I suggest. A chunk of the show’s finale final month was set in a yurt-esque framework poised on the cliff edge of the Pacific. It was there, in a group sharing exercising, that ad guy, philanderer, and searcher-for-identity Donald Draper identified his enlightenment surrounded by longhairs and macramé, not bouffanted secretaries and glass curtainwalls.

For seven seasons we have kvelled over Knoll and Herman Miller office interiors: 92 episodes of professional artwork course and set dressing developed a believable rendition of a mid-century world, spawned an avid fan base that furiously catalogued the vintage information, and influenced the marketplace.

Mad Males produced a believable rendition of a mid-century world and influenced the marketplace

Just lately, the demonstrate was attributed in portion for saving Norm’s, a classically mid-century piece of Googie coffee store architecture, from the wrecking ball. However for all the higher type, the show did not end with martinis at the Four Seasons, it ended with some fairly crunchy redwood architecture.

Weiner’s demonstrate implied that Draper’s inward search resulted in the creation of a Coke ad. Media writers debated regardless of whether the finale was cynical – the crass commercialisation of countercultural values — or enlightened — one man’s enlightenment prospects to revelations of belonging inside of the advertising globe. And a brilliant commercial.

Is the architectural counterpart equally vexed in terms of that means? And what was that creating?

Raised in Berkeley, a youngster of the 1970s, I recognised the sweeping see of horizon and the darker undertones of the spot: Big Sur. Henry Miller created a cabin here tucked in a grove of redwood trees. Jack Kerouac took the identify for a novel.

It truly is here Michael Murphy and Dick Price tag founded Esalen Institute, the spiritual retreat centre rooted in the teachings of Aldous Huxley and Gestalt philosophy that Weiner replicated for the Mad Guys soul looking.

In Weiner’s Television universe, the Staude House by architect George Brook-Kothlow is the stand-in for Esalen. Finished in 1969, the house is an expressive celebration of handicraft and all-natural resources – a difficult radial array of reclaimed redwood bridge timbers type the roof, the hearth is an outcropping of boulders.

The organic types and rough-hewn design and style of Bohemian Present day have been element of a bigger countercultural statement

It was created for Tony and Marguerite Staude, a pharmaceuticals businessman and an artist/heiress who also commissioned the sculptural Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona.

Richard Olsen, a Huge Sur chronicler of handbuilt homes, tracks Brook-Kothlow’s influences to an early encounter with Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin. Olsen areas the architect within a vocabulary he terms Bohemian Modern day, a group that includes grandly eccentric Bruce Goff and Publish Ranch Inn architect Mickey Muennig.

Nevertheless the linage is not so tidy. Brook-Kothlow died in 2012 and Olsen, in his obituary for the architect, points out that the organic varieties and rough-hewn design and style had been element of a larger countercultural statement.

The late 1960s and early 70s saw the rise of the back-to-the-land movement, a “gentle revolution” that turned away from activism, advertising alternatively an ideological, ecological life-style.

In California, some designers reclaimed Arts and Crafts philosophies, the writings of John Ruskin, and the ideals of William Morris. Rather than marketing a dropout mentality, these writings preached the moralities of attractiveness, craft, and labour.

Conflating way of life and righteous acts is a familiar trope for typical internet consumers who have observed micro-movements — consuming locally, urban farming, small homes — gently march across their screens. In Los Angeles, followers of the burgeoning artwork-craft-trend scene may possibly have predicted the return of hippie architecture.

Followers of the burgeoning artwork-craft-trend scene may possibly have predicted the return of hippie architecture

The 2012 release of The Source Family members, a documentary that informed the 1970s tale of a cultish Hollywood commune led by the charismatic Father Yod, set the initial tone. Quickly, Los Angeles ladies began to take style cues from the long, white maxi dresses worn by the spiritual leader’s thirteen wives.

Then, add-ons and routines extended seen as outmoded returned with high-minded execution and price tags to match. Design fairs and boutiques began to show hand-dyed linens and wheel-thrown ceramics. Soon knotty and macramed textiles filled the abodes of angel-headed hipsters, pushing out the Eames chairs and Nelson benches.

And final fall, the Graham Foundation resurrected a pair of unlikely heroes: landscape architect Laurence Halprin and experimental dancer/choreographer Anna Halprin.


Relevant story: “Cities are currently being redrawn in accordance to Google’s globe view”


The Graham’s exhibition Experiments in Environment: The Halprin Workshops, 1966-1971 presented photos and artifacts from a series of cross-disciplinary workshops held in San Francisco and on the coast at Sea Ranch. The Halprins’ brought collectively Gestalt concept, choreography, and Modernism to develop “scores,” or the loosely structured tips that underpinned nascent urban participatory practices.

The total mainstream resurrection of hippie architecture, which had faded into a mossy existence more than the last couple decades, was illustrated in March, when the New York Times’ T magazine ran a extremely sexy profile on the Shaw Property, another entry in the Huge Sur cannon.

Tastemaker Mark Haddawy impeccably and fashionably restored the 1974 property architect Will Shaw constructed for his second wife, Mary. The restoration of the unique redwood three-bedroom showcases principles from the previous and current – a catechesis of a design that is a lot more about a morality of residing than cost-free adore.

Accessories and actions extended seen as outmoded returned with high-minded execution and price tag tags to match

In the write-up, writer Amanda Fortini had Haddawy describe the fireplace, manufactured of nearby stone: “As you drive down the street, you see these rocks, they are portion of the vocabulary,” he says.

“[Haddawy’s] world in Huge Sur is neither modern nor dated but oddly eternal, a spot where time appears to have mysteriously expanded, contracted and folded in on itself,” writes Fortini, before evoking the much more mythical, much more mystical. “With its stark, monumental rocks rising out of the Pacific like some thing from a sci-fi movie or an archaic Celtic myth, it feels ancient and futuristic at once.”

It is this final bit, the mash-up of futuristic ambitions with the earthy tendencies of 1970s Bohemian Modern brings to mind a recent addition to the hippie roster: Thomas Heatherwick and Bjarke Ingels’ Googleplex in Mountain View, California.

Despite the fact that far more setting bubble than yurt, the renderings depict an archaic future steeped in the ethos of hippie architecture. One particular that is self-sufficient, ecological, technological, utopian.

It fits squarely into a Silicon Valley ideology previously described by Sam Jacob in Dezeen as he talked about Norman Foster’s pastorial design for the Apple headquarters and Frank Gehry’s green-roofed Facebook campus.

“With trees, landscaping, cafes, and bike paths weaving via these structures, we aim to blur the distinction between our buildings and nature,” explained Google in a post on its official website.

This is the dark side of hippie architecture

Heatherwick and Ingels’ layout is unlikely to undergo revisions as the site moves to a diverse 18.six-acre spot. In a piece in the New Yorker, Nathan Heller suggests that the new headquarters spots its ideals in the monastic.

“Nowadays, Google’s architectural perplexity gives certain windows onto Silicon Valley’s modifying concepts about operate culture and corporate local community, a blend of workplace versatility and intellectual hermeticism,” he writes. “If the Valley has a premise these days, it is that anything is possible – as prolonged as there are generous resources and no interventions from outside.”

From Esalen self-support to Don Draper’s enlightenment to Google’s techno-utopian workplace, every instance displays a disengagement from civic life and privileges individualised self-fulfillment. This is the dark side of hippie architecture: the forms guarantee a collective embrace, but deliver a cold shoulder as chilly as the Big Sur fog.


Mimi Zeiger is a Los Angeles-based mostly journalist and critic. She covers art, architecture, urbanism and layout for a amount of publications including The New York Occasions, Domus, Dwell, and Architect, in which she is a contributing editor. Zeiger is author of New Museums, Tiny Houses and Micro Green: Tiny Houses in Nature. She is currently adjunct faculty in the Media Style Practices MFA plan at Art Center. Zeiger also is editor and publisher of loud paper, a zine and weblog committed to escalating the volume of architectural discourse.

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