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What Can Be Learnt From The Smithsons' "New Brutalism" In 2014?

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 brutalism", hold the key for future housing projects?

Robin Hood Gardens, London. Image Courtesy of John Levett - http://www.flickr.com/photos/joseph_beuys_hat/ Robin Hood Gardens, London. Image Courtesy of Amanda Vincent-Rous - http://www.flickr.com/photos/51746218@N03/ Drawing at the 2014 Venice Biennale, Alison & Peter Smithson (1963). Image © James Taylor-Foster Robin Hood Gardens, Alison and Peter Smithson

Architecture City Guide: Modern New York

© Flickr CC license / Nickmilleruk
© Flickr CC license / Nickmilleruk

“A hundred times have I thought New York is a catastrophe, and fifty times: It is a beautiful catastrophe.” Le Corbusier

This architecture city guide celebrates Modernism in one of the world's greatest cities: New York. We embark on an architectural journey through nearly a century of innovative, revolutionary architecture: from early 20th century, revivalist Beaux-Arts; to machine-age Art Deco of the Inter-War period; to the elegant functionalism of the International Style; to the raw, exposed Brutalism characteristic of the Post-War years; and, finally, to the splendid forms of organic architecture. From world-renowned landmarks to undiscovered jewels, we invite you to explore the 2,028 blocks that make Manhattan an architectural mecca for citizens around the world.

Find our special AD city guide after the break...

The Flatiron Building / Daniel Burnham (1902). Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons The Chrysler Building / William Van Alen (1930). Image © New York Architecture Lever House / Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (1952). Image © Flickr CC license / Joseph Buxbaum Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum / Frank Lloyd Wright (1959). Image © Flickr CC license / Paul Arps

Architecture City Guide: Tel Aviv

This AD Architecture City Guide is dedicated to the vibrant city of Tel Aviv, 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…

The Pagoda House by Alexander Levy, 1925. Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons El Al House by Dov and Ram Karmi, 1963. Image © Justin Kliger Rubinsky House by Lucian Korngold, 1937, (Renovated by Bar Or Architects). Image Courtesy of Bar Or Architects Tel Aviv Museum of Art – Extension by Preston Scott Cohen, 2010. Image © Amit Geron

AD Round Up: Unbuilt Classics

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, Philip Johnson and Henry-Russell Hitchcock curated the “Modern Architecture: International exhibition” at the MoMA, 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 [MoMA Exh. #15, February 9-March 23, 1932] Photo: Modern Architecture, International Exhibition. 1932. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Photographic Archive
Model of Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye from Modern Architecture: International Exhibition [MoMA Exh. #15, February 9-March 23, 1932] Photo: Modern Architecture, International Exhibition. 1932. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Photographic Archive

“Modern Architecture: International Exhibition” is the title of an exhibition that took place in 1932 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. 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. 

Model of Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye from Modern Architecture: International Exhibition [MoMA Exh. #15, February 9-March 23, 1932] Photo: Modern Architecture, International Exhibition. 1932. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Photographic Archive Henry-Russell Hitchcock, Jr. and Philip Johnson: THE INTERNATIONAL STYLE: ARCHITECTURE SINCE 1922. via www.modernism101.com  Villa Savoye by Le Corbusier © Flavio Bragaia Barcelona Pavilion by Mies van der Rohe © Flickr User: gondolas