Modernist Architecture

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PublisherFall Semester2014
Clouds It was the year 1954 when the “Department of Tropical Architecture“ was founded at the Architectural Association (AA) London, by Maxwell Fry, Jane Drew and their colleague James Cubbitt. Tropical architecture had been a topic before the study programs foundation, large conferences like the “Conference on tropical architecture” March 1953 at University College, London or two years before in Venezuela had established the issue internationally. The AA Tropical Architecture study program ran till 1971 and was afterwards transferred to the University of London and proceeded there as the “Development Planning Unit” that is active till today. The AA program included lectures ...
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PublisherThe Funambulist2015
This conversation with Fabiola López-Durán is primarily structured around her work exploring Le Corbusier’s eugenic ideology from 1925 Paris to 1941 Vichy. At a moment when many events and debates are organized around his paradigmatic work, the main critiques seem to focus on his personal political engagement and ideology without fully engaging with the work and its consequences. What Fabiola proposes in her work is to take his claims for the orthopedic power of architecture seriously, and look at the vision of society it is therefore promoting. Although Le Corbusier’s example might be canonical, her argument is that the entire ...
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PublisherStrelka Press2013
Preservation is ordinarily reserved for architecture that is unique. So how would we go about preserving buildings that are utterly generic? Such is the case with Belyayevo, an ordinary residential district in Moscow. Belyayevo is a classic microrayon, the standardised neighbourhood system that successive Soviet regimes laid out across the USSR in what was the most expansive programme of industrialised construction the world has ever seen. Belyayevo’s buildings, and the desolate spaces between them, are identical to thousands of others, but is it different? Kuba Snopek argues that is. Home to many of the artists of the Moscow Conceptualism school, the ...
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PublisherFall Semester2014
At the beginning of the 20th century, Georg Simmel published one of his most important and well-known texts, “The metropolis and mental life”. He focused on the changes he observed in the relationship between spatial configuration and society (and other forms of sociability) within the urban landscape of the emerging big cities (or metropolises), namely, Berlin at the turn of the 19th century. When he published his essay in 1903, the metropolis was a recent occurrence signaling the beginning of a new urban phenomenon. It was brought about by the advances of industrialization and capitalism which, subsequently, would permanently change ...
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PublisherThe Funambulist2016
This second conversation of the series complementing the latest issue of The Funambulist Magazine dedicated to “Design & Racism” borrows its title from Audre Lorde’s words cited by Mabel O. Wilson at the beginning of the “Critical Dialogues on Race and Modern Architecture” that she organized at Columbia University in February 2016. Throughout this discussion, we talk about architecture’s historical and contemporary contribution to the American structural racism against Black bodies. Professor Mabel O. Wilson teaches architectural design and history/theory courses at Columbia University’s GSAPP. She is also appointed as a Research Fellow at the Institute for Research in African American Studies (IRAAS) ...
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PublisherFailed Architecture2018
Stereotypes regarding modernist architecture, and in particular the negative discourse on Amsterdam’s Bijlmer estate, have been quite crucial in shaping Failed Architecture’s way of thinking in its early years. Can we really blame the architecture for what went wrong? How can an entire neighbourhood, where thousands of people continue to live their lives on a daily basis, be simply dismissed as a grand failure? In recent years, however, there has been a slow but steady reappreciation of modernist architecture taking place, but rather for its aesthetics than its social ideals. While architecture from that era is still being demolished at a ...
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Selected writings of Max Bill – this collection makes many of his key texts available in English for the first time. Max Bill (1904-1994) – a product of the Bauhaus at Dessau, pupil of Walter Gropius, Vasily Kandinsky and Paul Klee – was a virtuoso designer whose work overleaped disciplinary boundaries, encompassing architecture, painting, sculpture, industrial and graphic design, as well as education. What unites all the work is a clarity and precision of expression. Through both his designs and his writings Max Bill has long been a major figure of reference in the German-speaking world. This collection makes many of ...
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PublisherThe Funambulist2017
Samia Henni and I recorded this conversation after a visit of her exhibition, Discreet Violence: Architecture and the French War in Algeria at ETH University in Zurich. In it, we attempt to introduce the historical context of the Algerian Revolution between 1945 and 1962, as well as the French architecture of counter-revolution designed against it, in particular the so-called “regrouping” camps in which the population of entire villages of rural Algeria were forcefully relocated by the colonial army. We also discuss of the challenges of curating such an exhibition when most of the available documents come from the colonizer side, as ...
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“In this very moment we are experiencing something unprecedented: the transformation of the art book into an art object. On the one hand, the continual pressure from the market to manufacture books less expensively and make them more affordable can’t be denied. On the other, there is increasing demand for durability, solidity, and quality. The art book itself is becoming a valuable collector’s item. Who wants to acquire a catalogue, an artist’s book, or a catalogue raisonné without believing it will still be a jewel in one’s book collection a decade from now? It’s this kind of book that ...
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For almost 20 years, Detlef Mertins has been a critical voice in renewing our understanding of architectural modernity. Architect, historian, professor, his essays have often taken up familiar themes in order to redress inaccuracies and release energies that we were unaware of. These essays elaborate on such key modernist tropes as transparency, glass architecture, organicism, life and event, sameness and difference. Previously published in a variety of different venues, from journals to anthologies – including such noted books as Lars Spuybroek’s NOX: Machining Architecture and FOA’s Phylogenesis – they are now assembled for the first time in this volume.
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Originally published in German in 1985 as Die Poetik eines Mauervorsprung, Jan Turnovsky’s The Poetics of a Wall Projection is ostensibly a description of a corner within the breakfast room of the Villa Stonborough in Vienna, designed by Ludwig Wittgenstein and Paul Engelmann. But it is also much more. Working from within an established Viennese tradition (practised most famously by Krauss, Freud, Loos and Wittgenstein himself), Turnovsky’s study elucidates a complex set of ideas from something seemingly trivial – in this case, an analysis of the villa’s corner detail expands into a wider exploration of the logics of architectural syntax and ...
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Rethinking Density: Art, Culture, and Urban Practices considers new perspectives and discussions related to the category of density, which for a long time has been part of urban-planning discourses and is now regaining the attention of artists and practitioners from a number of different disciplines. In an interplay of models, coping strategies, and experimental approaches, this publication combines research from cultural studies, artistic research, sound studies as well as architectural and urban theory. The issues discussed include the consideration of retroactive architectural design as a means to retrace the historical layers of a city, a proposal for space-sharing concepts as ...

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