The taste of our century

16 December, 2017

"You will be able touch it, hear its ring when you knock it, feel its absorption of heat, its granular or smooth surface, you will be able to taste it and as such relate to the façade of the building with your body’s senses."

Anya Bache, Danish Ceramicist

How does our century taste compared to previous ones?  And how will future centuries taste?  Every centuries' art, music, culture, food and architecture tastes different from the previous or the next.  If one person were able to taste each century, how different would they be?  We produce architecture differently from the ancients thusly the atmosphere should taste different.  By taste, I think Anya Bache means the atmospheric ambient air.  Peter Zumthor talks eloquently about atmospheres, and it is evident when viewing his work, why.  What does it feel like for your body and your senses to walk through a street market in 12th century Marrakech compared to one in contemporary London?

I think the overall taste of our century has become a watered down version of past centuries.  When I travel I have a taste test - to see if I am somewhere authentic.  I search for tomatoes to taste like they did in a Baroque 16th century market, and I am searching for a similar authenticity in my architecture too.  In some London markets, a tomato is an unpithy watery version of it's forma self.

I recently tasted a Norman Islamic cathedral in Sicily's suburb city, Monreale.  I realised the tasting actually began in downtown Palermo.  The cathedral is situated on a peak of rock that arcs around Palermo and encapsulates it on three sides - the fourth elevation is occupied by the sea.  As we drove and ascended closer to the town, our eyes were caressing the rock of the mountain used to construct the cathedral, we were experiencing the geology and the architecture - because they are the thing.  When approaching the Cathedral on foot, we were greeted by a piazza dominated by the building, as it wrapped and perched around the edge of the hilltop, it therefore denied us the view of Palermo below.  When inside, we experienced the total apprehension of material and light via the worlds largest mosaic, in gold.  We ascended the rooftop and we grey by the view back down to Palermo as we were now perched upon a rock that encircles the ancient city.  It tasted Ancient.  Does space we dissolve into taste of us too?