Concepts Of Modernity And Modernism Cultural Studies Essay

Modernism as an architectural term has surfed a diverseness of alterations in its significances and definitions, loosely because of its long practicableness and needed length of service. It is normally considered against any other manners or tendencies and has transformed over the last old ages from being the revolutionist and rebellious personage in architecture in the early decennaries of the 20’th century to the today ‘s curator and stiff manner. Anyhow, its indispensable virtues have been the edifice of the first bricks of a new modern-day manner, even if is acidly judged by many of the today ‘s designers. Even so, this rigidness has besides offered some kind of flexibleness in distributing a good quality architecture, based on rational thought and geometrical order that has enchanted our position on many occasions.

There are a battalion of arguments whether this manner had a positive impact upon the today ‘s architecture but certainly it had over the yesterday ‘s architecture by denying those methods of planing from the yesteryear. As Wagner considered in 1902, ‘Modern ‘ architecture has closed the 19’th century cosmetic tradition. ( Wagner, 1988 ) . This leads to the thought that anything that is considered modern will be a rejection of tradition and will violently move against it. Adding to this term the suffix ‘ism ‘ will instantly raise it to the degree of motion from a specific topographic point and clip. So, “ Modern ” is about freshness, about things still in alteration, in a uninterrupted development while “ Modern ” + “ doctrine ” gives it a contradictory significance, being a philosophy, a absolutely statute term today. It refers to the period that begun at the terminal of the 18’th century and “ died ” as Charles Jencks would set it, in 1972, exactly on July 15, at 3.32 autopsy, “ when the ill-famed Pruitt-Igoe strategy ( aˆ¦ ) were given the concluding putsch de grace by dynamite ” .

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This essay focuses on associating these antonyms but mutualist footings, showing the consecutive relation between them, the fact that we would n’t hold had one without the other. There is a major difference between the rational of the two constructs but in the terminal, architecture is based on the same rules: to offer a shelter for the human being, to protect and do him experience comfy even if is for the rich or for the hapless, decorated or non, in relation to its milieus or non, conveying a message or non etc.

In a narrative manner, the essay is structured chronologically and is broken in three major historical periods dictated by the impact of the two universe wars: the first one – before the first World War and the terminal of the 19’th century, the 2nd – the period after the two World Wars and the last portion – the commence of the station modernism together with its development until today. This narrative focal points besides on showing how the nowadays architecture has flourished, every bit good as appraising the way of the hereafter. The terminal of this essay will be left opened, together with the inquiry “ Where are we heading to? ” and the premises of of import names from the architecture universe.

Social context – development of modern society at the terminal of 19’th century and the impulse to free architecture as a affair of manner

In the 19’th century, alterations in the human history were taking topographic point ; what happens particularly in Europe and the USA at the terminal of the 18’th century will tag the development in every sphere but in architecture is seen and felt at its best, sing that is an art that we deal with twenty-four hours by twenty-four hours. Some of the causes that made architecture alteration so quickly where due to the technological and societal developments of the age and these are synthesize as it follows:

The demographic leap and the alterations in the demographic repartition, from the rural to the urban

The industrial revolution – the alteration from the mechanical production to the industrial


The national political orientations and the formation of national provinces about in the current signifier

The general democratisation of society

The trust in a positive thought and in the scientific advancement as a manner of work outing the society ‘s jobs

As a consequence, the 19’th century topographic points architecture in a new context, with new conditions, issues and demands:

The demographic leap induces a new problematic of measure and quality of human life in footings of circulation, properness, urban equipment, lodging for the hapless etc.

New types of edifices appear: mills, Stationss, administrative edifices etc. Finding a signifier that satisfies the map with a new symbolic becomes a major preoccupy.

Finding expressive ways of utilizing new stuff and building engineerings ( metal and reenforce concrete ) and associating them with the new constructs of technology

Architecture is seeking to reflect the new age ‘s spirit, a more broad, non-subjugated to the constructs of the yesteryear, a free architecture. All these converge to the determination of new expressive linguistic communications which answer to the jobs and replace the old 1s which were considered expired. The signifiers and production methods of the yesteryear were still spread through the educational establishments like the Beaux-Art academy. That is the ground why the designer from the terminal of the 18’th century was n’t ready to reply to these urban, societal and technological alterations. His head was set upon the stylistic linguistic communication, which derived from classical orders, applied on different types of edifices normally in an about same manner. He does n’t believe that the new age ‘s jobs are deserving paying attending: measure, quality, economical and societal issues. For this ground he will be replaced by other specializers who undertake these jobs: urban decision makers, applied scientists, enterprisers, economic experts etc.

Furthermore, the designer is fighting to convey the new techniques and the new stuff in the antique design. They are utilizing so much the traditional manner that in the terminal it becomes oversaturated. A really important text which underlines the feeling of the age is “ The Gentelman ‘s House or How to Plan English Residence from the Personage to the Palace ” from 1864 by the designer Kerr:

“ A baffled gentleman may venture to propose that he wants merely a simple comfy house “ in no manner at all – except the comfy manner, if there be one. The designer agrees ; but they are all comfy. “ Sir, you are a paymaster, and must hence be pattern-master ; you choose the manner of your house merely as you choose the physique of your chapeau ; – you can hold Classical, columnar or non-columnar, arcuated or trabeated, rural or civil, or so palatial ; you can hold Elizabethan in equal assortment ; Renaissance ditto ; or, non to detect minor manners, Medieval in any of its many-sided signifiers, 11th century or twelfth, thirteenth or fourteenth, whichever you please, – feudalistic or cloistered, scholastic or ecclesiastic, archaeologistic or ecclesiologistic, and so a good bill of fare more. “ “ But truly, I would much instead non. I want a field, significant, comfy Gentleman ‘s House ; and, I beg leave to reiterate, I do n’t desire any manner at all. I truly would really much instead non hold any ; I dare state it would be a great trade of money, and I should really likely non like it. Look at myself ; I am a adult male of really apparent gustatory sensations ; I am neither Classical nor Elizabethan ; I am non cognizant that I am Renaissance, and I am certain I am non Medieval ; I belong neither to the 11th century, nor to the twelfth, thirteenth, or fourteenth ( aˆ¦ ) I am really regretful, but if you would kindly take me as I am, and construct my house in my ain styleaˆ¦ ” ” .

There are some cardinal words in this text that I would wish to underscore. This negotiations about an “ ain manner ” – term that in the late 19’th century was n’t mentioned ; the attitude of the designer of the clip over his ain work denotes a deficiency of professionalism ; he talks about a edifice superficially, like a “ chapeau ” that needs to be ornamented. It is evidently why a kind of “ crisis ” was about to look ; non merely the professional designers who understood the importance of the job but besides the people from the exterior, the viewing audiences, were tired of these cliches, and as Le Corbusier would set it: “ architecture has nil to make with assorted ‘styles ‘ . The manner of Louis XIV, XV, XVI or Gothic, are to architecture what a plume is on a adult female ‘s headaˆ¦something pretty, though non ever, and ne’er anything more ” . ( 37 )

Architecture is a merchandise of its clip and as Mies van der Rohe said: “ non of the clip but of the era ” . He besides remembers: “ When I was, possibly 16 old ages old I worked in a stucco concern. In the forenoon we had to make a one-fourth of a full-sized ceiling in Louis Quatorze, in the afternoon, one in the Renaissance. We went through all these periods, chestnut decorations and so on. I got so much of it that I could n’t be impressed any longer with these things. ” Another description about the feel of the clip and related to the Beaux-Art academy is made by the Mexican designer Juan O’Gorman “ aˆ¦It was the usual Beaux-Art academic material and that, of class, was piled on in such a manner that we became wholly bored with it. ” ( Oral History, pag13 ) .

Ideas and motions towards a modernist architecture

It is clear that in the architecture of the clip needed to be changed. They were all tired of the stuffed design. As in every motion, there were theorists that tried to react to the “ crisis ” of the 19’th century, but the consequences were merely partly obtained. Analyzing their designs is evidently that they were still dependent on the past rules, thing that was in the impulse to complete. Probably the most of import theorist of the 19’th century, Eugene-Emanuel Viollet-le-Duc ( 1814-1876 ) is the 1 that “ rationalizes the Gothic ” . He eliminates the romantic and the sentimentalism from this manner, presenting the right usage of stuffs and obeying to the functional necessities. John Ruskin ‘s thoughts were influential every bit good. From a romantic point of position, he seeks the solution to the artistic and architectural degeneracy of the capitalist society in the history, in the rare minutes of harmoniousness between the artistic and the environment that creates it. He sends towards The Medieval times, towards the Gothic and the Byzantine.

Architecture ca n’t be understood without puting it against the historic background that has taken it to where it is now. The period between the 1890 and the beginning of the First World War, in 1914 was a major phase in the development of architectural design. It might hold looked like a start for a rich and fertile motion non of a standard international manner but a colourful, original, more varied than of all time earlier. This bloom was interrupted by the War, which destroyed much of the endowment, energy and purposes. The undermentioned old ages, the 20 ‘s and the 30 ‘s brought societal catastrophe, unemployment, poorness ; so architecture had to work out all of this through the socialisation, the monolithic building and Reconstruction of human shelters.

The whole motion represents a interruption from the traditions of the past but this interruption did n’t go on all of a sudden but bit by bit, at first merely like a humble of modernisation between the 19’th century and beginning of the 20’th – the soft interruption, and the 2nd one – the extremist interruption – the first decays of the 20’th century.

“ In the aftermath of World War I, the Modern Movement hoped to turn blades into ploughshares, righting the brutalisation of the modern universe through a kind of socialism by design. In consequence, the Modern Movement believed it could transform mass consciousness by bettering productive and environmental conditions. ” ( Architectures Modernism and After, pag 35 ) Towards this socialism, in Munich, 1907 is founded the Deutscher Werkbund, which will be “ working with capitalist economy in the hope of reforming it ” . Furthermore, many of the laminitiss of this society will be take parting in the initiation of the Bauhaus in 1919 and the Congres Internationaux d’Architecture, CIAM, in 1928.

As a denial for the 19’th century Art Nouveau, Adolf Loos writes in 1908 “ Ornament and offense ” , Antonio Sant’Elia ‘s 1914 “ Manifesto of Futurist Architecture ” – critiques the neoclassicism, Walter Gropius ‘s 1919 “ Manifesto ” is heading to a socialist gesture in architecture while constructing the foundation for what would hold become the most of import brick for the modernist development: lupus erythematosus Corbusier ‘s 1923 “ Towards a new architecture ” , the new Bible for modern design.

In “ Ornament and offense ” Loos underlines the gravitation of the job by utilizing decoration. He considers that merely crude people and felons use tattoos. “ Ornamentation is a offense ” , “ force [ onto ] the unity of the object ” ( Loos qtd in Gravagnulo 67 ; Gusevich 109 ) . He was heading “ against the intrenchment of the antediluvian government ” , earnestly denying art nouveau ‘s disposition towards ornamentation. Broadly, the first definition of modernism that comes into one ‘s head, is the deficiency of decoration, simpleness.

With the same thirst or even more, Antonio Sant’Elia ‘s 1914 “ Manifesto of Futurist Architecture ” [ n ] O architecture has existed since 1700aˆ¦ [ Modern architecture is nil more than a moronic mixture ofaˆ¦ stylistic elements ” ( Sant’Elia ) . This was a rebellious abetment towards the halt of “ recopying classical theoretical accounts ” and making “ new castings and frames for Windowss ” .

Another aftermath up call came from the laminitis of the Bauhaus, Walter Gropius ‘s “ Manifesto ” : “ Architects, painters, sculpturers, we must all return to crafts! ” His desire is the “ witting carbon monoxide operation and coaction of all craftsmen ” .

“ Towards A New Architecture ” is one of the most influential pronunciamento of the twentieth ‘s century. Like Loos and Gropius, Corbusier claims that “ architecture is stifled by usage ” . He considers that the issues with whom the century is facing should be taken serious, considered in each design: the 1920 ‘s economic state of affairs, handiness of new stuffs, the demographic addition and so on. They should be solved by taking advantage of the new engineering, by making “ machines for life in ” , in a new and simplistic mode “ Cubes, cones, domains, cylinders, [ and ] pyramidsaˆ¦are the most beautiful signifiers. ” In my vision, what Corbusier has done to the architecture of the 20’th century was a extremist interruption from the traditions and the methods of the yesteryear. He was presenting a new manner, an absent manner as they were claiming but however one of the most of import manners in determining the layout of the hole universe.

The extremist interruption from the yesteryear is clearly seen from the first decays of the 20’th century. Through the new motions: Futurism, Constructivism, Neoplasticism, the Bauhaus, and Le Corbusier – all of them are component parts of the International Style.

Approximately, the modern architecture was based on the same thought: the rationalisation and simplification of the reinforced signifier and construct. The rationalism was introduced by the philosopher Descartes who invites the adult male to seek for replies inside himself which in architectural footings, the design should come from the interior to the exterior, the exact rule that signifier follows map. A relevant illustration is Corbusier ‘s program for a metropolis with 3 million people which is built from abrasion harmonizing to the construct of a modular adult male capable to populate in his “ living machine ” ; this metropolis is considered an utopist attack by the reviews because the standardisation and globalisation ca n’t travel so far until pretermiting the personality and the civilization of single. Rationalism transforms the architectural undertaking in a mercantile and functionalist act, restricting its aesthetical beauty. The repeatability of certain elements brings an oversaturation and stylistic fumes.

The glorification times of these designs were evidently those 1s emanated from the Bauhaus tradition, the early decennaries of the 20’th century. After the 2nd universe war the barbarous conditions of life dictated this rushed manner of edifice, the socialisation ; people desperately needed a topographic point to populate and likely this is when the modernism failed. It became a manner, thing that was undesired from the beginning: ‘What they did non desire was to be told that they were working in a manner. ‘ ( Scully ; 2003: 75 ) . Even more, it became a tradition and as modernness is ever pretermiting tradition – it was the bend of modernism to be rejected by POSTMODERNISM.

The commences of the post-modernism can be tracked in some series of reactions of designers towards CIAM. The most representative leader of the post-modernist architecture is the designer Robert Venturi. In the survey “ Learning from Las Vegas ” he was promoting a “ promotion ” architecture, where the maps were introduced in normal “ shelters ” and the companies were placed in forepart.

The modernist revolution started by rejecting the decoration, showing its existent parasite and anti-functional kernel. The slogan of this motion absolutely illustrates the way that Mies van der Rohe was following: “ Less is more ” . The post-modernism ‘s answer to the modernists rigidness was embodied in a new seek inside the yesteryear once more, where the composite job was solved in an imaginative manner and where the obstructions like the “ contradiction and complexness ” as Venturi said, had given the juncture for proficient and aesthetical finds. The post-modernists looked to an opposite way, to the analysis and de-simplification of the yesteryear. In a pluralist manner, the historicism of the post-modern architecture is re-explaining the yesteryear from many angles, from the romantic, to an dry and nostalgic 1. For a perfect antitheses, Venturi replies with his ain version to the modernist slogan: “ Less is a dullard ” .

We can inquire ourselves if between modernism and postmodernism exists an indispensable difference. The first difference is about the manner they see the relation between exterior and interior. Nor did the sky-scrapers nor the corporate lodging were neglected by the post-modernists but they were upgraded and embellished. Between Mies ‘s black towers from Chicago and the Chippendale “ gag ” , the A.T & A ; T Building of Philip Johnson there is non a major conceptual difference. Not the “ signifier follows map ” as Sullivan thought, but the “ map follows signifier ” – as postmodernists believe. In the same dry tone, Peter Blake said: “ signifier follows debacle ” . This underlines the absolute function of the interior infinite as a dictator for the outside. In the terminal a relation was established between both of them: flexible infinites should allow alterations in clip. So, if we change map and so, the interior programs, how this individuality alteration will be reflected on the exterior while the frontages are unchangeable? There are two effects: the first 1: if the interior infinite is left free – following infinite – so as to be changed anytime – the consequence will be an autonomic facade which will non reflect the alteration and any map at Al. The 2nd effect: if the map is reflected on the outside volumes, the consequence is that the architectural object is embodied in the undertaking, so the motto should be changed: “ the signifier follows merely the initial map ” – and any subterranean alteration should be suppressed.

I believe that this dual paradox is the major job of modernist edifices presents. They were thought for a map at a certain clip, and for these edifices the interior coherency is faulted. There was a monopolized capitalist economy, a specialisation so that all the edifice had a individual usage: educational, industrial, administrative or residential – and this was shown. The alteration and development was about impossible, that ‘s why the presents consequence is that all the monumental edifices from civic centres are sheltering merely bars, discos, local meeting topographic points – they have no flexibleness in supplying other maps.

On the contrary, the post-modernism looks more into the public infinite of the metropolis, of the frontages, for being something else than interior private infinite.

And yet, our today architecture is stuck. This is non mentioning to of import and truly developed metropoliss like London, Paris, New York etc. but to metropoliss I deal with every twenty-four hours like Coventry or metropoliss from Romania which were clearly affected by the war and governments. These had n’t had clip to develop yet and modernist intends are botching today our position. What we see new and beautiful is really old and passing. An office edifice with a metallic construction and a glass frontage is likely 50 old ages antique. The nowadays architecture is constrained by legion economical factors, being afraid to look for new signifiers, to analyze new stuffs, to look and seek something different, is afraid of losing its client, the money and celebrity.

The architectural linguistic communications in modern-day plants -were they are, if they are- are the old 1s from the modernist ‘s epoch. We want to salvage money from quality, from nutrient, from our psyche but in the terminal we throw our money on junk-food, on trade names, wasted clip, restricting ourselves, on an expensive house, inexpensive medical specialties, incorrect stuffs, on a inexpensive undertaking, constructs, and in the terminal we realize that we are n’t healthy, satisfied with our life ; why? because we do n’t pass adequate clip and energy on architecture. We live in an ambient which is generated by aesthetics – we are influenced by the surrounding and when we do n’t experience comfy with it, we are non happy. @ Architecture of felicity @

And if this is the today ‘s architecture, I wonder what is the future architecture? Thousand old ages ago, the designers were pulling SF images where ropewaies were winging, OZNs were everyplace, edifices were immense, they were conceive ofing city-buildings, submerged metropoliss and many other things – many of these programs were accomplished. We now have half a mile tall edifices, submerged metropoliss, unreal islands, rackets and ecologic autos, we reached the velocity bound, we ‘ve got it all. So what can be following?

As I imagine, there are two options: traveling back to traditions but every bit ecological as possible together with cut downing the sum of energy consumed, with systems against planetary heating and protection etc. And on the contrary, the SF architecture with organic molded edifices, tectonic constructions, even practical edifices, that alteration form etc.

It ‘s clear that engineering was the starting motor of any architectural development and so will be. The designer should be futurist because the modern term is already expired. The modernists lived two centuries ago. A modern house? … a voguish design which after one twelvemonth will non be any longer? Or a house for the hereafter, an illustration of something that cipher else hold?

Futuristic thought or merely the image of the duck? The posting jungle!

From experience, a truly unusual thing that happens at the minute with the architecture is the “ intercrossed ” Restoration or the attempt of enliven the excessively stiff edifices through engineering or immense postings. This is following the construct of the duck from Venturi ‘s “ Learning from Las Vegas ” . They are traveling towards a speech production architecture but is it truly what we – the viewing audiences need/want? I feel haunted by the tremendous prohibitions and screens that took over the metropolis.


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