A mid-1960s Archigram film announced: “When it’s raining in Oxford Street the architecture is no more important that the rain.” The moment rain cascades down the window outside, the city seemingly dribbles. Pictorial edges are less certain, and the desire to remain inside firms.
Jacek Krenz, in “Rain in Architecture and Urban Design”, observes that:
“The way we perceive rain affects our conception of city space. When raining, the image of a city suddenly changes – it gets dark, drops of water blur the edges of shapes, obscuring our vision, reflexes emerge and intensify faded colours, and the air itself becomes humid and cool.”
“Rain transforms the cityscape into watercolour mirages. The silent surfaces of temporary ponds and puddles reflect the sky and shapes of buildings, reinterpreting vertical lines of trees and architecture in their many horizontal repetitions. Fog rolls over streets and buildings, creating shadowy mirages and phantoms.”
“Rain changes the desire lines that pedestrians take to walk in the city.”
It’s surprising then that the architecture of rain is not cherished more. Contemporary living appears to shun rather than embrace the aesthetic experience of rain. Krenz continues in a much more pragmatic vein as he analyses water and the city, but his opening lines are suggestive of ways in which architecture might learn from the aesethic instability and openness of rain.