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Avant Garde: The Latest Architecture and News

Rethinking Le Corbusier's Manifesto: 6 Explorations That Break Away From Modernist Ideals

The Society of the Spectacle / Guy Debord
The Society of the Spectacle / Guy Debord

“A model by Corbusier is the only image that brings to my mind the idea of immediate suicide.” - Ivan Chtcheglov

Despite their pranks and dirty politics, the Situationists may have been right after all. The death of architecture students will not be a result of excessive studio work, but will rather occur from the sermonizing repetition of modernist ideals that continue to be taught. In Le Corbusier's manifesto, Vers une Architecture (Toward An Architecture), he advocates for the adoption of modern architecture as the solution to 20th-century global crises, in a way that now seems rather limiting. 

If the discipline doesn't move past the black-and-white photographs of the Barcelona Pavilion or the reductionist designs of the Bauhaus, students will continue to produce what may now be incorrectly associated with the “right architecture.” In order to break away from these stereotypes of what architecture should be, here are six explorations of building, curating and writing that resist these notions:

via MVRDVCourtesy of Joanna E. Grant© Plamen PetkovCourtesy of Sarah Wigglesworth Architects+ 19

Snøhetta to Renovate Avant-Garde Theater in Nanterre, France with Dynamic Extension

Snøhetta has been announced as the winner of a design competition for the renovation of the avant-gardist Théâtre Nanterre-Amandiers in Nanterre, France. The renovation seeks to breathe new life into the 1960s theater, known for its high-quality performances and global collaborations.

The renovations will include the addition of a 200-seat theater, and the reconfiguration of the building’s restaurant, bookshop, and atrium space, with an emphasis on flexibility and natural light.

This Book Encourages Children to Build Their Own Russian Constructivist Playground

It was alongside the rise of the Soviet era when the Russian avant-garde movement started one of the most influential creative revolutions in the 20th Century. The Constructivists, forming part of this wave, rewrote the history of art, design and architecture, and their legacy still remains contemporary.

© Zupagrafika© Zupagrafika© Zupagrafika© Zupagrafika+ 20

The War Over Water: This Dystopian City Design Was Inspired by Current Trends in Resource Extraction

It’s the year 2036 in Generic City, a gloomy place where once mighty skyscrapers are lucky to be in decrepit condition, if they haven’t already been swallowed by the ever-increasing number of sinkholes appearing throughout the city. But the city is not lifeless: a constant hum echoes about the city, a well-choreographed churning motion in pursuit of one central activity. In this city, the world’s most precious commodity—not gold, not diamonds, not even black gold but just simple, fresh water is under the total control of a mega-corporation named Turquoise. The people are ruled by an oppressive autocracy and life is divided between the haves and have-nots. Life revolves around access to water.

Is this the opening paragraph of the latest dystopian novel? No, but it might be Joshua Dawson’s interpretation of our troubling future. With CÁUSTICO, an ode to the growing tradition of “speculative design fiction” pioneered by countercultural avant-gardists of the 1960s (think Archigram, Superstudio and Archizoom) Dawson exaggerates the implications of current social phenomena for the purposes of rhetoric. While the truthfulness of his vision is a little on the improbable side, the work is an eye-opening narrative on the increasing scarcity of fresh water. At the same time, Dawson’s dystopic vision opens a conversation about the relationship of the architect with utopianism, while his representational techniques brings up the question of what exactly the work of the architect entails.

Courtesy of Joshua DawsonCourtesy of Joshua DawsonCourtesy of Joshua DawsonCourtesy of Joshua Dawson+ 10