~ a qualitative, balanced urban contrast
St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan
Bontrast, as you already guesses, is a portmanteau of bon, the french word for good, and contrast. It was coined because we need a term that captures the architectural equivalent of the phrase opposites attract, in our case the contrast between a skyscrapers and its lower surroundings.
In this dictionary we already covered some of the unlucky combinations of old vs. new or big vs. small, for example the term montparnassed. I’m not the expert on this, but I guess that using concrete and a brutal architectural style is not the best way to ensure a happy mix, while lighter materials such as glass and steel seems to give you better results.
Bontrast represents the notion that not all superficial contrasts are necessarily bad, and if quality, ambition and confidence are a common denominator, can actually be a great embodiment of cityness.
Good combinations seem to have a non-superficial similarity. A well designed skyscraper next to a well designed monument can be more agreeable than an mediocre building that desperately tries to blend in next to a monument, even though the buildings in the latter example show more similarity in size and design.
Bontrast was coined for this dictionary