What Can Be Learnt From The Smithsons’ “New Brutalism” In 2014?

Alison and Peter Smithson (year unknown)

Sheffield born Alison Gill, later to be known as Alison Smithson, was one half of one of the most influential Brutalist architectural partnerships in history. On the day that she would be celebrating her 86th birthday we take a look at how the impact of her and Peter Smithson’s architecture still resonates well into the 21st century, most notably in the British Pavilion at this year’s Venice Biennale. With London’s Robin Hood Gardens, one of their most well known and large scale social housing projects, facing imminent demolition how might their style, hailed by Reyner Banham in 1955 as the ”new ”, hold the key for future housing projects?

Architecture City Guide: Tel Aviv

Courtesy of Flickr CC License / wili_hybrid

This AD Architecture City Guide is dedicated to the vibrant city of , originally established as a garden-city on the sandy shores of the Mediterranean in 1909. Although widely known as “The White City” for boasting the world’s largest collection of International Style Buildings, Tel Aviv is not merely a monochromatic Bauhaus colony: it presents a rich mosaic of locally interpreted styles, from Eclectic to Brutalist to contemporary, which are the result of foreign and locally-born architects who adapted to the local cultural and climatic conditions.

Join us for our architectural city guide through the “Non-Stop City” after the break…

AD Round Up: Unbuilt Classics

The Plug-In City by Peter Cook, 1964. Image via Archigram Archives

This AD Round Up is dedicated to unbuilt classics, a selection of projects and ideas that, although never built, contributed greatly to the canon of twentieth century architecture. In 1920, Buckminister Fuller designed the Dymaxion House, which displayed forward-thinking innovations in sustainability and prefabrication. In 1924, Le Corbusier’s radical plan for Ville Radieuse (The Radiant City) had an extensive influence upon modern urban planning and led to the development of new high-density housing typologies. In the same year Friedrick Kiesler introduced his “Endless House“, the basis for his subsequent manifesto of Correalism. Eight years later in 1932, and Henry-Russell Hitchcock curated the “Modern Architecture: International exhibition” at the , introducing the emerging International Style and laying the principles for Modern architecture. And finally, one of Archigram’s most famous utopian visions, the Plug-In City, proposed by Peter Cook in 1964, offered a fascinating new approach to urbanism and reversed traditional perceptions of infrastructure’s role in the city.

AD Classics: Modern Architecture International Exhibition / Philip Johnson and Henry-Russell Hitchcock

Model of Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye from Modern Architecture: International Exhibition [ Exh. #15, February 9-March 23, 1932
“Modern Architecture: International Exhibition” is the title of an exhibition that took place in 1932 at the Museum of Modern Art in . Curated by Philip Johnson and Henry-Russell Hitchcock, the exhibition introduced an emerging architectural style characterized by simplified geometry and a lack of ornamentation; known as  the “International Style,” it was described by Johnson as “probably the first fundamentally original and widely distributed style since the Gothic.” The exhibition, along with an accompanying catalogue, laid the principles for the canon of Modern architecture.

AD Classics: Riola Parish Church / Alvar Aalto

© Franco Di Capua

Designed by Finnish architect, Alvar Aalto, Riola Parrish Church is a stunning concrete form which mimics and modulates with the contours of its Italian landscape. The magnificent baptistery, completed in 1978, is located eight kilometers south of Bologna in the small town of Riola. Aalto’s evocative modernist architecture captures the spirit of this mountain setting; it is a spiritual structure which, inside and out, unassumingly expresses sanctity of faith and place.

More on Church after the break.

AD Classics: Villa Savoye / Le Corbusier

© Flavio Bragaia

Situated in Poissy, a small commune outside of Paris, is one of the most significant contributions to modern architecture in the 20th century, Villa Savoye by .  Completed in 1929, Villa Savoye is a modern take on a French country house that celebrates and reacts to the new machine age.  The house single handedly transformed Le Corbusier’s career as well as the principles of the ; becoming one of the most important architectural precedents in the history.  Villa Savoye’s detachment from its physical context lends its design to be contextually integrated into the mechanistic/industrial context of the early 20th century, conceptually defining the house as a mechanized entity.