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Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser. More news. More opinion. A new survey of 40 years of architectural theory opts to document, rather than unpack its subjects, writes Stephen Games.
In their new reader on the last 40 years of architectural theory, An Introduction to Architectural Theory from to the Present, David Goodman and Harry Francis Mallgrave provide an informal chronology of how Postmodernism burst upon the scene in the s and what happened afterwards, but even they have to admit defeat in explaining some of the continuing uncertainties that Postmodern language gives rise to, and whether Postmodernism even accounts for what architects got up to under its rubric.
Postmodernism was centrifugal, driving people apart at least as much as it brought them together. This was the difficulty that Charles Jencks faced when trying to define it: he wished to nail down a system that he had a particularly comprehensive grasp of at just the time when architects were wanting to be free.
Examples of architects whose positions were ambiguous — Hans Hollein, James Stirling, Frank Gehry — are useful, but Postmodern confusion is a phenomenon, and one that needs to be examined and explained not just noted and illustrated. Mallgrave and Goodman go some way to doing this when they match architects to key borrowings.
In spite of these reservations, there is much in this book that is useful for the beginner. British intellectuals were complicit in this conspiracy. Instead, their creativity had to be channelled into the proxy activity of bringing over theoretical ideas, ancient and postmodern, from philosophy to architecture and from the Continent to the US.
The institutionalising of architecture as a university discipline supported this trend. Of particular interest is the home-grown rabbit that the authors pull out of their hat: the little known figure of Charles W. Along with Lewis Mumford, Harwell Harris at Texas, and Jane Jacobs, Morris was one of several people who, according to the authors, could have led the US towards a theoretical position all of its own. Having begun by observing the first cracks in what they see as the outmoded idea that new technology will make society better in the s and 60s, they finish by promoting what they see as the novel idea that new technology will make society better in the s.
One hopes, of course, that architecture is becoming more enlightened. Whether it is, and whether this type of theory has anything meaningful to say or valuable to teach, is clearly still open to question. One of the speakers at an Architecture Foundation lecture disrupted by racist shouting has urged the profession to consider the risk to minority groups when organising online events.
The AJ, in partnership with the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust, has launched a new survey to gather up-to-date evidence on race diversity within architecture.
The profession is becoming more female, but black, Asian and minority ethnic BAME architects remain hugely under-represented in the great majority of AJ firms. The organisers of a competition for a pavilion in Tottenham have extended its deadline and said the winning scheme will be built in instead of due to coronavirus.
Full screen. You might also like Coronavirus delays Tottenham Pavilion contest 19 March Merlin Fulcher The organisers of a competition for a pavilion in Tottenham have extended its deadline and said the winning scheme will be built in instead of due to coronavirus.
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Explain more, describe less: Mallgrave and Goodman's Architectural Theory
Harry Francis Mallgrave. Modern Architectural Theory is the first book to provide a comprehensive survey of architectural theory, primarily in Europe and the United States, during three centuries of development. In this synthetic overview, Harry Mallgrave examines architectural discourse within its social and political context. He explores the philosophical and conceptual evolution of its ideas, discusses the relation of theory to the practice of building, and, most importantly, considers the words of the architects themselves, as they contentiously shaped Western architecture. He also examines the compelling currents of French rationalist and British empiricist thought, radical reformation of the theory during the Enlightenment, the intellectual ambitions and historicist debates of the nineteenth century, and the distinctive varieties of modern theory in the twentieth century up to the profound social upheaval of the s. Modern Architectural Theory challenges many assumptions about architectural modernism and uncovers many new dimensions of the debates about modernism.
Architectural Theory: Volume I - An Anthology from Vitruvius to 1870
John V. Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 1 September ; 65 3 : — Recipient s will receive an email with a link to 'Review: Modern Architectural Theory: A Historical Survey, by Harry Francis Mallgrave' and will not need an account to access the content. Sign In or Create an Account. User Tools. Sign In.
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