If asked to name buildings by German architect and designer Peter Behrens (14 April 1868 – 27 February 1940), few people would be able to answer with anything other than his AEG Turbine Factory in Berlin. His style was not one that lends itself easily to canonization; indeed, even the Turbine Factory itself is difficult to appreciate without an understanding of its historical context. Despite this, Behrens' achievements are not to be underestimated, and his importance to the development of architecture might best be understood by looking at three young architects who worked in his studio around 1910: Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, and Walter Gropius.
Modernism: The Latest Architecture and News
Though Modernism is sometimes criticized for imposing universal rules on different people and areas, it was Richard J. Neutra's (April 8, 1892 – April 16, 1970) intense client focus that won him acclaim. His personalized and flexible version of modernism created a series of private homes that were—and still are—highly sought after, making him one of the United States' most significant mid-century modernists. His architecture of simple geometry and airy steel and glass became the subject of the iconic photographs of Julius Schulman, and came to stand for an entire era of American design.
John Marx, AIA, Co-Founding Principal and Chief Artistic Officer of Form4 Architecture, has debuted The Absurdity of Beauty: Rebalancing the Modernist Narrative, which challenges the philosophies of Modernism and posits how these discussions can inspire a new era of urbanism and abundance.
Lebanon is home to several outstanding structures, influenced by centuries of architectural styles. However, one of the most intriguing projects in the Middle Eastern country lies in the northern city of Tripoli, a culturally-rich historical city with structures once inhabited by Romans, Crusaders, Phoenicians, and Ottomans. The Rachid Karami International Exhibition Center, designed by Oscar Niemeyer, reflects the slow deterioration from Lebanon’s pre-war golden age to post-war depression. The country's iconic modernist site has suffered after years of neglect and reportedly will require upwards of 15 million dollars to restore.
How does our built environment affect us? This major exhibition spanning two galleries examines the positive and negative influence buildings have on our health and wellbeing. From Dickensian London to the bold experiments of postwar urban planners, and from healing spaces for cancer patients to the role architecture can play in global healthcare provision, we look anew at the buildings that surround and shape us.
Omnipresent plattenbau housing estates, monumental hochhäuser, cosmic milk bars; the post-war East Germany was rebuilt on concrete foundations to stand for the new modernity and shape the unique and no less controversial urban landscape of German Democratic Republic.
MODERN EAST: Build Your Own Modernist DDR is the new book by Zupagrafika celebrating socialist modernist and brutalist architecture of the former East Germany and allows you to playfully reconstruct some of the most intriguing edifices erected between early 1950s and late 1980s - from the massive plattenbauten of Rostock, through the icons of DDR-Moderne, like Kino International or Haus des Berliner
High-rise tower blocks, prefab panel housing estates, streets in the sky, new towns; some of the concrete constructions that once shaped the cityscapes of post-war Britain have stood the test of time, while others are long gone.
‘Brutal Britain’ by Zupagrafika (also author of ‘Brutal London’) celebrates the brutalist architecture of the British Isles, inviting readers to explore the Modern past of Great Britain and rebuild some of its most intriguing post-war edifices, from the iconic slabs of Sheffield`s Park Hill and experimental tower blocks at Cotton Gardens in London, to the demolished Birmingham Central Library.
Opening with a foreword by architectural
A recent exhibition at the MAK Vienna - Austrian Museum of Applied Arts / Contemporary Art, is showcasing the works of Sagmeister & Walsh, a NYC-based design firm investigating what makes beauty so appealing.
Titled "Beauty," the exhibition explores the notion that beauty operates as an independent function, and that in itself, it can be the primary motive for architecture: form is a function. In collaboration with the YouTube channel and design studio Kurzgesagt (In A Nutshell), this video released along with the exhibition explains why beautiful things make us happy.
“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:
This article was originally published on CommonEdge as "Was Modernism Really International? A New History Says No."
I taught architectural history in two schools of architecture during the 1980s and 1990s. Back then it was common for students to get a full three-semester course that began with Antiquity and ended with Modernism, with a nod to later twentieth-century architecture. My text for the middle section was Spiro Kostof’s magisterial History of Architecture: Settings and Rituals. With many centuries to cover, he spent very little effort in dealing with the twentieth century. In the last third of the course, students read texts such as Towards a New Architecture by Le Corbusier and Reyner Banham’s Theory and Design in the First Machine Age. My colleagues and I felt that we offered students a pluralistic and comprehensive review of key developments in the history of the built environment.
This article was originally published on June 16, 2016. To read the stories behind other celebrated architecture projects, visit our AD Classics section.
Built in the early days of airline travel, the TWA Terminal is a concrete symbol of the rapid technological transformations which were fueled by the outset of the Second World War. Eero Saarinen sought to capture the sensation of flight in all aspects of the building, from a fluid and open interior, to the wing-like concrete shell of the roof. At TWA’s behest, Saarinen designed more than a functional terminal; he designed a monument to the airline and to aviation itself.
This AD Classic features a series of exclusive images by Cameron Blaylock, photographed in May 2016. Blaylock used a Contax camera and Zeiss lenses with Rollei black and white film to reflect camera technology of the 1960s.
This article was originally published on August 15, 2016. To read the stories behind other celebrated architecture projects, visit our AD Classics section.
Le Corbusier made an indelible mark on Modernist architecture when he declared “une maison est une machine-à-habiter” (“a house is a machine for living”). His belief that architecture should be as efficient as machinery resulted in such proposals such as the Plan Voisin, a proposal to transform the Second Empire boulevards of Paris into a series of cruciform skyscrapers rising from a grid of freeways and open parks. Not all of Le Corbusier’s concepts, however, were geared toward such radical urban transformation. His 1965 proposal for a hospital in Venice, Italy, was notable in its attempt at seeking aesthetic harmony with its unique surroundings: an attempt not to eradicate history, but to translate it.
On August 15, 1947, on the eve of India’s independence from the United Kingdom, came a directive which would transform the subcontinent for the next six decades. In order to safeguard the country’s Muslim population from the Hindu majority, the departing colonial leaders set aside the northwestern and eastern portions of the territory for their use. Many of the approximately 100 million Muslims living scattered throughout India were given little more than 73 days to relocate to these territories, the modern-day nations of Pakistan and Bangladesh. As the borders for the new countries were drawn by Sir Cyril Radcliffe (an Englishman whose ignorance of Indian history and culture was perceived, by the colonial government, as an assurance of his impartiality), the state of Punjab was bisected between India and Pakistan, the latter of which retained ownership of the state capital of Lahore. It was in the wake of this loss that Punjab would found a new state capital: one which would not only serve the logistical requirements of the state, but make an unequivocal statement to the entire world that a new India—modernized, prosperous, and independent—had arrived.
Born in the small Swiss city of La Chaux-de-Fonds, Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris—better known by his pseudonym Le Corbusier (October 6, 1887 – August 27, 1965)—is widely regarded as the most important architect of the 20th century. As a gifted architect, provocative writer, divisive urban planner, talented painter, and unparalleled polemicist, Le Corbusier was able to influence some of the world’s most powerful figures, leaving an indelible mark on architecture that can be seen in almost any city worldwide.
One of the most influential 20th-century architecture schools, the Bauhaus experienced its glory days in the city of Dessau between 1925 and 1932. Under the direction of Walter Gropius, Hannes Meyer, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, the emblematic educational complex was a place for work and housing for some of the most renowned personalities of architecture, design, and art of the last century.
Although the school in Dessau operated for a limited time with few people having the opportunity to experience the prolific environment, it left a deep impact on the architectural production that followed. The buildings that are part of the complex - both in Dessau and Weimar - were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1996 and are now open for visitation.
Photographer Stefanie Zoche of Haubitz-Zoche has captured a series of vibrant images showcasing the “hybrid modernism” churches of the Southern Indian region of Kerala. The images below, also available on the artist’s website, depict the blend of modernist influences and local architectural elements that defined many Indian churches following the country's 1947 independence.
As Zoche explains, the post-independence Indian church establishment sought to differentiate itself from the historic colonial building style, and hence drew inspiration from the modernist icon Le Corbusier. The buildings in Zoche’s gallery often display an “effusively sculptural formal language and a use of intense color” with Christian symbols “directly transposed into a three-dimensional, monumental construction design.”
It is rare for a father and son to share the same birthday. Even rarer is it for such a duo to work in the same profession; rarer still for them both to achieve international success in their respective careers. This, however, is the story of Eliel and Eero Saarinen, the Finnish-American architects whose combined portfolio tells of the development of modernist architectural thought in the United States. From Eliel’s Art Nouveau-inspired Finnish buildings and modernist urban planning to Eero’s International Style offices and neo-futurist structures, the father-son duo produced a matchless body of work culminating in two individual AIA Gold Medals.