Architecture Became Increasingly Obsessed with the Health of Bodies

© Creative Commons

In some theoretical books, architecture and the human body are more or less the same, each depending on one another. Oftentimes, however, it is the body that undergoes detrimental adjustments to adapt to the architecture, not the other way around. 

In the newly released book X-Ray Architecture, architectural historian Beatriz Colomina argues that health facilities inspired modern architecture's most dominant formal signatures. 

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The bond between architecture and illness is probably my longest preoccupation... In terms of all pathologies related to it, real or imagined - Beatriz Colomina

According to Colomina, architects started to imagine their work as "prophylaxis, treatment, and even cure". The book documents the medical facilities that notable modernist architects, such as Alvar Aalto, managed to develop. Notably, all of these works were done by architects who were not ill, injured, disabled, or dying, a fact that omits any logic at the core of architectural thinking. 

© Alvar Aalto Museum Jyväskylä, Finland/photo by Alvar Aalto

To analyze the canon of modern architecture is to do a kind of X-ray of the canon, a disciplinary self-exposure, a way of getting closer to our object by allowing architecture to see itself, to see what is always there, but overlooked - Beatriz Colomina

© Ivan Blasi/Fundacio Mies Van Der Rohe

The book goes from a history of radio-graphic imagery and its influence on architecture, to a complementary scripture on the effect of transparent and translucent materials, such as the work of SANAA in its 2008 installation at the Mies van der Rohe Barcelona Pavilion.

To read more about the X-Ray Architecture and what Metropolis Magazine's Nicholas Korody thinks of the newly-released book, read the full article here.

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Cite: Dima Stouhi. "Architecture Became Increasingly Obsessed with the Health of Bodies" 24 Nov 2019. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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