1949-1971 Redefing Modern Architecture The discovery of the ...


1949-1971 Redefing Modern Architecture The discovery of the ...


Redefing Modern Architecture

The discovery of the everyday

Early post-war period

Affirmation of the modern tradition

(Giedion, Pevsner, Hitchcock, Johnson)

Second phase

Pre-war Modernism treated as a closed historical phase

Start of a second phase

Reyner Banham

Team Ten

Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown

Modern Movement


Heroic Period of Modern Architecture

First Machine Age



History is of course my academic discipline. Criticism is

what I do for money.

Reyner Banham 1964

Alison and Peter Smithson, secondary school Hunstanton, 1949-1954

Reyner Banham ‘The New Brutalism’ 1955

‘Whatever has been said about honest use of materials,

most modern buildings appear to be made of whitewash

or patent glazing, even when they are made of concrete

or steel. Hunstanton appears to be made of glass, brick,

steel and concrete and is in fact made of glass, brick,

steel and concrete. Water and electricity do not come

out of unexplained holes in the wall, but are delivered to

the point of use by visible pipes and manifest conduits.

One can see what Hunstanton is made of, and how it

works, and there is not another thing to see except the

play of spaces.’

‘This ruthless adherence to one of the basic moral

imperatives of the Modern Movement – honesty in

structure and material.’

‘What has been the influence of contemporary

architectural historians on the history of contemporary

architecture They have created the idea of a Modern

Movement (...) and beyond that they have offered a

rough classification of the “isms” which are the thumbprint

of Modernity into two main types: One, like Cubism,

is a label, a recognition tag, applied by critics and

historians to a body of work which appears to have

certain consistent principles running through it,

whatever the relations of the artists; the other like

Futurism, is a banner, a slogan, a policy adopted by a

group of artists, whatever the apparent similarity or

dissimilarity of their products. And it is entirely

characteristic of the New Brutalism (...) that it should

confound these categories and belong to both at once.

A+P Smithson, The New Brutalism, 1957

‘Any discussion of Brutalism will miss the point if it does

not take into account Brutalism’s attempt to be objective

about “reality” (...) Brutalism tries to face up to a massproduced

society, and drag a rough poetry out of the

confused and powerful forces which are at work. Up to

now Brutalism has been discussed stylistically, whereas

its essence is ethical.’


Banham, Brutalismus in der Architektur, 1966

‘Es war ein Privileg und eine Lehre, diesen Prozess der

Reife aus der Nähe verfolgen zu können, ebenso wie es

für mich als kritischen Historiker eine heilsame Lektion

war, eine Bewegung entstehen zu sehen – Einblick zu

gewinnen in Umstände unter denen so gewaltige

Bewegungen wie die gotische Architektur aus der

Wechselwirkung einiger weniger lebendiger Geister um

Bischof Suger entstehen konnten oder die Kunst der

Renaissance aus einer Freundesgruppe, die klein genug

war, um in de Widmung von Albertis “Della Pittura”

namentlich aufgeführt zu werden.

De Beobachtung des Entstehens und Wachsens einer

Bewegung wurde letzten jedoch zu einer Enttäuschung.

Trotz aller schönen Reden von “einer Ethik, keiner

Ästhetik” bracht der Brutalismus niemals ganz aus dem

ästhetischen Rahmen aus. Eine kurze Zeit lang, von 1953

bis 1955, sah es aus, als ob tatsächlich eine “andere

Architektur” entstehen könnte (...). Für einen

Augenblick sah es aus, als ob wir an der Schwelle eines

völlig uneingeschränkten Funktionalismus ständen,

unbelastet sogar von der Maschinenästhetik, welche die

weiße Architektur der dreißiger Jahre gefangen hielt


Die Johnsons, Johansens und Rudolphs auf dem

amerikanischen Schauplatz erkannten schneller als ich,

dass die Brutalisten im Wirklichkeit ihre Verbündeten

waren und nicht die meinen, dass sie letzten Endes der

klassische Tradition verpflichtet waren und nicht der


Paul Rudolph,

School of Art and Architecture,

Yale, New Haven 1961-1963

S. Lewerentz, St Peter’s Church, Klippan 1967

Alison and Peter Smithson,

Economist Building

London 1959-64

James Stirling and James Gowan, Queen’s College, Oxford 1966

James Stirling, James Gowan,

School of Engineering,

Leicester 1960-1963

Stirling & Gowan,

housing Ham Common,

London 1958

Aldo van Eyck, Orphanage, Amsterdam 1955-60

Van den Broek

en Bakema

Lijnbaan shopping


Rotterdam 1956

Le Corbusier, Notre Dame du Haut,

Ronchamp 1950-1954

The qualities of that object may be summarized as

follows: 1, Formal legibility of plan; 2, clear exhibition of

structure, and 3, valuation of materials for their inherent

qualities “as found”. This summary can be used to

answer the question: Are there other New Brutalist

buildings besides Hunstanton It is interesting to not

that such a summary of qualities could be made to

describe Marseilles, Promontory and Lakeshore

Apartments, General Motors Technical Centre, much

recent Dutch work and several projects by younger

English architects affiliated to CIAM. But, with teh

possible exception of Marseilles, the Brutalists would

probably reject most of the buildings from the canon,

and so must we (...). In the last resort what charaterizes

The New Brutalism in architecture as in painting is

precisely its brutality, its je-m’en-foutisme, its bloody

mindedness. Only one other building conspicuously

carries these qualities in the way that Hunstanton does,

and that is Louis Kahn’s Yale Art Centre.’

1, Memorability as an Image

2, clear exhibition of structure

3, valuation of materials for their inherent qualities “as


Le Corbusier, Unité d’Habitation, Marseille 1947-1952

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe,

Lake Shore Drive Apartments,

Chicago 1948-1951

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) Chicago 1943

Eero Saarinen, General Motors Research Center, Detroit, 1949

L. Mies van der Rohe, IIT-building Chicago 1949

Matthews and Martin,

Royal Festival Hall, London 1951


Colin St John Wilson, Extension of the School

of Architecture, Cambridge 1959

Alison and Peter Smithson, secondary school Hunstanton, 1949-1954

A+P Smithson

Soho House


A+P Smithson, N. Henderson,

E. Paolozzi, Parallel of Life and Art

London 1953

Document 53

The exhibition will present material belonging

intimately to the background of everyone today. Much of

it has been so completely taken for granted as the have

sunk beneath the treshold of conscious perception. (...)

The exhibition will provide a key – a kind of Rosetta

stone – by which the discoveries of the sciences and the

arts can ben seen as aspects of the same whole. (...) The

material for the exhibition will be drawn from lifenature-industry-building

and the arts, and is being

selected to show not so much the appearance as the

principle – the reality behind the appearance – that is

those images which sum up the significant development

in each field since 1925 and contain within them the

seeds of the future.’

Document 53

The first great creative period of modern architecture

finished in 1929 and work subsequent to this can be

regarded as exploratory work for the second great

creative period beginning now. Both periods are

characterised by simultaneous parallel development in

architecture-engineering-painting and scupture. The

attitudes, theorems, and images of each finding

unsought consonance in the other.


The second great creative period should be proclaimed

by an exhibition in which the juxtaposition of

phenomena from our various fields would make obvious

the existence of a new attitude. Our exhibition would

present the opening phase of the movement of our time

and record it as we see it now, as did the Esprit Nouveau

Pavilion for 1925.’


N. Henderson

Bethnal Green


A+P Smithson, CIAM presentation 1955

Aldo van Eyck, burgerweeshuis Amsterdam 1955-1960

Aldo Van Eyck speelplaats Amsterdam jaren vijftig

N. Henderson

Bethnal Green


E. Paolozzi

Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam 1949

Van Eyck en Constant


Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam


CoBRA exhibition

Liege 1951

This is Tomorrow, London 1956

A+P Smithson, E. Paolozzi, Patio & Pavilion, This is Tomorrow, London 1956

Herman Haan, eigen huis

Rotterdam 1955

Herman Haan

Herman Haan CIAM Otterlo 1959

Aldo van Eyck, eigen woning Amsterdam 1948


Bernard Rudofsky

Architecture without


MoMA New York


Bernard Rudofsky


E. Paolozzi

Scrapbook 1947

Richard Hamilton 1956


‘When something is so largely consumed with such

enthousiasm and such passion as many aspects of pop

culture, then I don’t think any social critic in his right

mind should simply reject it as being a load of rubbish or

even opium of the people.’

Reyner Banham, Theory and Design in the First Machine

Age 1960

revaluation of modernism, finding a framework for

understanding the present society


Richard Buckminster Fuller

Dymaxion House 1933

Richard Buckminster Fuller, Dymaxion Car 1930s

Richard Buckminster Fuller,

Richard Buckminster Fuller,

Wichita House 1946

Cedric Price, Fun Palace 1961

Cedric Price, Inter-Active Centre, London 1971

A+P Smithson, Weekend House Upper Lawn Pavilion, Fonthill Abbey 1961

Reyner Banham, Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four

Ecologies, London 1971

In the Rear-view Mirror

‘A city seventy miles square but rarely seventy years old

(...) Los Angeles is instant architecture in an instant

townscape. Most of its buildings are the first and only

structures on their particular parcels of land; they are

couched in a dozen of different styles, most of them

imported, exploited, and ruined within living memory.

Yet the city has a comprehensible, even consistent,

quality to its built form, unified enough to rank as a fit

subject for an historical monograph.

Historical monograph Can such an old-world, academic,

and precedent-laden concept claim to embrace so

unprecedented a human phenomenon as this city of Our

Lady Queen of the Angels of Porciuncula – otherwise

known als International Combustion City, Surfurbia,

Smogville, Aerospace City, Systems Land, the

Dreamfactory of the Western world. It’s a poor historian

who finds any human artifact alien to his professional

capacities, a poorer one who cannot find new bottles for

new wine.’

Freeway and Pop architecture

‘Both are crucial to the human ecologies and built

environments of Los Angeles as are dated workis in

classified styles by named architects. In order to

accommodate such extremes, the chapters that follow

will have to deviate from accepted norms for

architectural histories of cities. What I have aimed to do

is to present the architecture (in a fairly conventional

sense of the word) within the topographical and

historical context of the total artifact that constitutes

Greater Los Angeles...’

‘Mobility outweighs monumentality there to a unique

degree (...) So like the earlier generations of English

intellectuals who thaught themselves Italian in order to

read Dante in the original, I learned to drive in order to

read Los Angeles in the original.’

E. Paolozzi

Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown, Steven Izenour,

Learning from Las Vegas 1972/1977

1968 intro to a design studio at Yale: ‘Passsing through

Las Vegas is Route 91, the archetype of the commercial

strip, the phenomenon at its purest and most intenst.

We believe a careful documentation and analysis of its

physical form is as important to architects and urbanists

today as were the studies of medieval Europe and

ancient Rome and Greece to earlier generations. Such a

study will help to define a new type of urban form

emerging in America and Europe, radically diffferent

from what we have known: one that we have been illequipped

to deal with and that, from ignorance, we

define today as urban sprawl. An aim of this studio will

be, through open-minded and nonjudgmental

investigation, to come to understand this new form and

to begin to evolve techniques for its handling.’

Robert Venturi, Vanna Venturi House, Chestnut Hill, 1959-64

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