Second International Workshop : Abstracts
Second International Workshop ‘Mapping Architectural Criticism’, organized by Université Rennes 2 and Università di Bologna
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 4th > 9:00-12:30 Foresteria San Giovanni in Monte, Conference Room
9.00 Welcome Address (Giovanni Leoni, Dipartimento di Architettura, Università di Bologna)
9.15 Introduction (Paolo Scrivano, Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, Giovanni Leoni, Università di Bologna, Hélène Jannière, Université Rennes 2, Coordinator of the Research Project Mapping.Crit.Arch)
Session 1 Vehicles and Actors: Journals, Newspapers and their Editors
Chair: Paolo Scrivano, Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University
10.30 Coffee break
>14.30-16.15 Accademia delle Scienze, Sala di Ulisse, palazzo Poggi
>16:30-19:00 Foresteria San Giovanni in Monte, Conference Room
Session 2 Actors or Vehicles? Institutions, Exhibitions, Competitions
Chair: Anna Rosellini, Dipartimento delle Arti – DARvipem, Università di Bologna
17.30 Ellen VAN IMPE, Centre for Flemish Architectural Archives, Vlaamse Architectuur Instituut (Flanders Architecture Institute), Antwerp
Architectural Exhibitions as Critical Actor in Belgium 1883-1972
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 5th > 8.45-13.00 Biblioteca del Dipartimento di Architettura
Session 3 Vehicles: ‘Visual’ Criticism
Chair: Nathalie Boulouch, Université Rennes 2 – Archives de la critique d’art, Rennes
9.30 Heliana ANGOTTI-SALGUEIRO and Ruth VERDE ZEIN, Mackenzie Presbyterian University, Sao Paulo
Blending Textual and Visual Rhetoric for a Critical Discourse: Oscar Niemeyer and Marcel Gautherot at Modulo (1955-1962)
10.00 Matteo CASSANI SIMONETTI, University of Bologna
Among Criticism, Design and Photography. A Literary and Photographic Way for the Criticism in Shared Works by Vittorio Savi, Aldo Rossi and Luigi Ghirri (1972-1989)
10.30 Coffee Break
Session 4: Critical Competencies: Non-Canonical Architectural Critics and Criticism
Chair: Anne Hultzsch, The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL London and OCCAS, Oslo University
12.30 Closing discussion and announce of the forthcoming activities of the ANR Mapping Architectural Criticism research project
Session 1 Vehicles and Actors: Journals, Newspapers and their Editors
9.30 ABSTRACT: Actors of Criticism: How the Editors of AD Magazine shaped Architecture
From its establishment in 1930, architect John Kendall briefly edited Architectural Design (AD) magazine until his death in 1934 when Frederic Towndrow took over. Towndrow, a now forgotten early modern architect and ardent socialist designed some of the earliest modern houses in Britain. Besides being a practising architect, teacher, broadcaster, and architectural critic for the Observer newspaper, he also found time to edit AD and managed to build it into a respected technical and professional journal and even keep it going through the lean years of the war.
Monica Pidgeon shadowed for Towndrow during the war, and succeeded him as Editor immediately after. Although Pidgeon was not an architect, she held the editorship until 1975, employing a series of talented Technical Editors (all male architects), including Theo Crosby, Ken Frampton, Robin Middleton and Peter Murray. This was the ‘Golden Age’ of AD magazine, when AD overtook even the Architectural Review as the most popular British architectural magazine by introducing the New Brutalism, Archigram, and Cedric Price to the architectural world through the personal networks of these Technical Editors.
When Pidgeon left and the Standard Catalogue Company wanted to sell AD, an awkward ménage à trois between Martin Spring, Haig Beck and Andreas Papadakis was formed to buy it, and then publish it. By 1977, only Papadakis remained. Although a physicist by training, Papadakis maintained a close network of architectural savants, including Léon Krier, Demetri Porphyrios, and Charles Jencks. Between them they named, introduced, and promoted Post-Modern architecture to the world.
Through original archival research, oral histories, and interviews, this paper will depict detailed biographies of these three editors and show how they influenced the shape of architectural practice and culture through their beliefs and network.
BIO: Stephen PARNELL, Newcastle University
Stephen Parnell is a lecturer in architecture at Newcastle University, interested in architectural criticism and journalism, post-war architectural history, the sociology of the architectural profession and the role the media play in it.
His PhD, ‘Architectural Design 1954-1972: the contribution of the architectural magazine to the writing of architectural history’, completed under Peter Blundell-Jones at Sheffield University, won the 2012 RIBA President’s Award for Outstanding PhD Thesis. That year, he also exhibited ‘Architecture Magazines: Playgrounds and Battlegrounds’ in the Padiglione Centrale of the 2012 Venice Biennale. Parnell is currently extending his PhD research to the Post-Modern years thanks to a RIBA Research Trust Award and will soon write a full critical history of AD magazine from 1930 to 1992 and its relationship to architectural culture, history and practice.
Parnell regularly contributes to the architectural press and was shortlisted for the IBP’s Architecture Writer of the Year in 2011 and 2012.
10.00 ABSTRACT: The Role of Architectural Journals between Medium and the Message
The paper explores the case studies of the professional journals in the context of promoting new architectural language and their multilayered roles; from defining new codes of architectural criticism, disseminating ideas and ideologies to the networking new internationalism in modern architecture (so-called “Cold War Modern”).
Unlike cultural anthropology and literary theory, historical surveys of the history of architecture in the socio-political frame of the former Yugoslavia left the “complexity and contradiction” of interactions between architecture, art, ideology and popular culture almost out of interest. Thus very little is known about the « mediatisation » of architectural discourse, such as the role of the journals, daily newspapers, exhibitions, paper architecture and other media of mass communication and their impacts on mapping transcultural modernist cultural paradigm.
By focusing on the internationally acclaimed modernist concept of the synthesis of art, architecture and design as one of the main aspects of critical and theoretical discourse, I intend to show how it generated modernist architectural language in the socialist society of Yugoslavia, deeply rooted in-between East and West.
The aim is to define the position of architectural turn to modernist cultural paradigm as an expression of the awareness of the need to promote one’s own cultural and political identity. Thus, the paper would contribute to the critical redefinition of the new concept of the architectural journals in the the 50s and 60s, when these ideas were transferred from the individual, experimental, conceptual and performative to the level of mass production by being recognized and evaluated through this medium. Applying methodological apparatus of cultural studies, the aim is to trace the problematic aspects of “the great divide » proposed to exist between the modes of cultural practice, and of public discourses as discussed by Jürgen Habermas, especially concerning the role of the key aspects and changes of the media in creating and reconstructing the link to contemporary « periodical codes » and binary oppositions of so-called “typologies of criticism”.
BIO: Jasna GALJER, University of Zagreb
BA in Art History and Comparative Literature from Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Zagreb, University of Zagreb, MA and PhD from the above mentioned Faculty.
1987-2001 employed in Museum of Applied Arts in Zagreb, as a curator of the collections design and architecture, from 1999 museum advisor. Curated several exhibitions on architectural history, design history and cultural history, participated in more than 30 professional and scientific conferences, among others: European Association for Urban History EAUH Lyon 2008, CAA New York 2015, Les années 1910. Arts décoratifs, mode, design Paris, 2016.
From 2001 employed at the Department of Art History, University of Zagreb, since January 2014 full professor. Academic year 2006-2007 She spent on postdoctoral scholarship at the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism at the University of Ghent, Belgium. From 2010 the head of the Department of art theory. Curated more than 30 exhibitions, among others Art Deco and Art in Croatia between the Two Wars (Museum of Applied Arts, Zagreb, 2011). Published several books, among others Design of the Fifties in Croatia : From Utopia to Reality (2004) and Modern Journals and Cultural History in Croatia 1890-1940 (2012).
To book Expo 58 and the Yugoslav pavilion of Vjenceslav Richter She won the annual national award for science in 2009 year.
Invited scholar at the Institut national d’histoire de l’art (INHA), Paris for 2015 (the topic of the research: French influences and the continuity of modernism in Croatian architecture).
11.00 ABSTRACT: A Journal and a Newsletter: Criticism and Provocation in a Developing Nation
In 1977, the first journal of architecture in Bangladesh- Environment, was produced by the first school in the country, BUET. Set up as part of US Technical Aid to East Pakistan, the school’s agenda to direct the trajectory of the discipline in the region, extended to the journal. Ten years later, the publication changed its name to Protibesh (Bengali for environment) and articulated its editorial intention to ‘generate discussions, promote interest and provoke thought’, shaping the architecture culture of Bangladesh in response to its rapidly evolving socio-politics. While its constituent research articles in the 90s, on passive cooling or low-cost housing schemes struggled to keep up with its heavy editorial intent to address the local, a much smaller scale publication, a newsletter produced by a non-academic entity, argued for the same causes with eloquence, filling in where Protibesh left off.
This newsletter was produced by the independent architecture research group Chetana (Bengali for conscious thought), headed by the foreign trained, Marxist architect, Muzharul Islam, operating outside academic circles, having designed most of the local institutional buildings by the end of the 80s. The newsletter easily accomplished some of the same aims of Protibesh, publishing articles in English and Bengali and addressing the critical notion of place and identity in architecture. Ironically, even while it declared its intention to draw funding from foreign entities, the newsletter was able to retain its originality better at times than Protibesh, struggling to discard the biases of a school with a generic development orientation. While Protibesh was filled with scientifically weighed hypotheses, Chetana was populated with the more direct language of opinion pieces.
The paper compares the trajectories, strategies and agenda of the two publications, dissecting the role of each within its unique set of limitations, Protibesh within institutional biases and Chetana from the lack of a more formal framework. It attempts to understand the coexistence, at times symbiotic and at times dialectical of the two publications, addressing the broader question of the role of both academic and non-academic publications as vehicles in establishing and perpetuating a critical architecture culture of a developing country.
BIO: Ishraq Z. KHAN, North South University
11.30 ABSTRACT: From Satire to Criticism: Comics in Architecture Publications in the 1960s and 1970s
Cartoons, in the tradition of the graphic satire, have been an acute form of criticism of architecture and the city since the beginning of the 20th century. Although originally produced for the general press, many of them were incorporated into architecture periodicals in the form of illustrations or as sections of magazines, like the long-living Alan Dunn’s cartoons for The Architectural Record, Louis Hellman’s for The Architect’s Journal, Marcello Piccardo’s strips for A, or Saul Steinberg’s caricatures for many different publications.
Comic strips, on the other hand, made a different entrance in the discipline and had a different presence. Vindicated by Le Corbusier in L’Esprit Nouveau as early as 1921 for their ability to narrate sequences, they have been used by different modern architects as a way to incorporate the dimension “time” into their projects. However, during the 1960s and 1970s, comic strips will be used prominently in architectural publications and especially little magazines as a specific and very different form of criticism. Their widespread use in the radical scene linked to their narrative form, a graphic way of conveying discourse, which will be exploited for many different purposes, from their countercultural value to their communicative abilities: incorporated in collages in the Situationist tradition of détournement as a means of political action; used for their science-fiction imagery of space comics as a way of claiming for motion and dynamism into architecture; or as a tool for narrative communication especially in a type of architecture which is very ideological.
This presentation proposes an overview of the use of comics during this period, demonstrating that their use is deeply linked to a claim for an architecture “autre”, as well as to a position outside the official sphere of architecture, therefore being a powerful visual vehicle of criticism of the discipline, coming from outside to act from within.
BIO: Carlos MACHADO e MOURA, PhD Candidate, Faculdade de Arcquitectura da Universita do Porto
Carlos Machado e Moura is an architect, graduated at the University of Porto – Portugal (FAUP, 2006) after having attended the Università degli Studi di Firenze for one year with the Erasmus Programme. He concluded an Avanced Studies Course in Architectural Heritage at FAUP in 2013 (3rd cycle) and he currently conducts a research on the use of graphic narrative by architects, for his PhD in cultural studies at FAUP under the supervision of Luis Miguel Lus Arana (Universidad de Zaragoza, Spain) and Jorge Figueira (Universidade de Coimbra, Portugal), financed by Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT).
After graduation, he lived and worked in Italy for several years as a researcher in different European projects dealing with urban issues and as an architect in his own firm on private and public projects. He his co-author of the project of a public school built in Montepulciano (2010-2015). Collaborated as a guest teacher in the course Progettazione Urbanistica of the degree in Urbanistica e Pianificazione Territoriale e Ambientale at the Facoltà di Architettura dell’Università degli Studi di Firenze in 2009/2010.
He has published a book, several articles in different architectural magazines and he participated in several conferences, either as a moderator or as a speaker. Currently is a member of the editorial board of JA – Jornal Arquitectos, the magazine of the Portuguese Architects Association.
14.30 ABSTRACT (lecture): Agendas, Actors and Authorship: Reconsidering The New Brutalism. Ethic or Aesthetic?
This paper proposes to focus on the architectural discourse of the British architect, Cedric Price (1934 2003) and more specifically his activity as a design columnist during the 1970s-1990s. Price actively engaged architectural theory and criticism not only through what he wrote or said, but also through the rhetorical strategies that he creatively deployed, and how these were fundamentally linked to an ideal of participation and process. In Price’s discourse, and in particular his design columns, the reader or audience is an integral actor in the construction of meaning —a ‘co-author’ one might say. Through the continuous two-way exchange of letters, queries, news, and commentary, Price’s public’ becomes an active participant in the production of criticality. This paper proposes to examine the dialogic and socio-political dimensions of Price’s design columns within the broader context of Price’s activity as a journalist and his involvement with mass media. If the architectural critic plays a mediating role between theory and practice, the function and the status of the architectural journalist appears less defined, often overlapping with that of the critic. But whereas criticism is often considered a complementary activity to theory, journalism does not receive the same consideration. Indeed many architectural historians and critics relegate the journalist to the role of a neutral agent or observer who simply communicates and records information without comment. But reporting is not a passive mechanical recording; reporters ‘make’ stories and the ‘making’ of stories involves play and critical imagination. This paper argues that Price’s early involvement in journalism was crucial to the development of his dialogic approach to design criticism, and even to design itself. Drawing on perspectives developed in literary criticism and media studies, as well as an analysis of certain key influences like the Victorian novelist Charles Dickens or the postwar communications theorist Marshall McLuhan, this paper aims to offer a possible response to the contemporary challenge of how might architectural criticism engage in a more effective dialogue with architectural practice and society at large without losing its so-called ‘critical’ autonomy.
BIO: Réjean LEGAULT, Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)
Réjean Legault studied architecture at the Université de Montréal and holds a Ph.D. in architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is professor at the École de design of the Université du Québec à Montréal and former head of the Study Centre at the Canadian Centre for Architecture. His research, lectures and publications focus on the historiography of modern architecture, on postwar tectonics, and on the relationship between materials and architectural modernity. His publications include Anxious Modernisms: Experimentation in Postwar Architectural Culture (co-edited with Sarah Williams Goldhagen, 2000) and numerous articles in journals, books of essays, and exhibition catalogues.
Session 2 Actors or Vehicles? Institutions, Exhibitions, Competitions
16.30 ABSTRACT: Knowledge, History, and Work: Critical Positions at the Royal Institute of British Architects 1889-1924
My paper will explore the interrelation between agents and actors during the professional definition of the ‘The Architect’ in early twentieth century England. I will investigate the networks of criticism within the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) through its in-house publications RIBA Proceedings (2nd series 1885 – 1893) and RIBA Journal (3rd series 1894 – present). The establishment of Architects Registration Bill Committee in 1889 and the amalgamation of the Society of Architects into the RIBA in 1924 define the period of investigation. The paper will address a gap in the secondary literature, which has tended to focus only on the statutory registration of the architect in England in relation to the mechanics of practice rather than a part of the contemporary critical dialogue.
My research will draw on other contemporary positions to develop a nuanced understanding of the role and use of criticism in nineteenth-century architectural culture. I will also utilise institutional archival documentation from within the RIBA – such as internal correspondence and council minutes – to provide a background to the journal’s position and intent. Through the exploration of a series of specific case studies the paper will broaden the notion of ‘actors’ into an institutional framework and investigate relationships between architects and critics during a period when the definition of the role of ‘The Architect’ was played out in the public realm. A central line of inquiry will be to discuss the level of influence made by the RIBA on the form and content of the criticism within its journal. I will question the extent that the journal formed a part of the RIBA’s critical position and how that manifested itself within text and images, and public exhibitions held at the RIBA headquarters during the period.
BIO: Matthew J. WELLS, Ph.D Candidate, Royal College of Art / Victoria & Albert Museum, London
M. J. Wells is an architect and historian. Currently based in the V&A/RCA History of Design department and supported by an Arts and Humanities Research Council Collaborative Doctoral Award, his research looks at the way architects thought about and used models during the nineteenth century.
Following architectural training in Liverpool and London, he worked in the office of Eric Parry on a number of London-based and international projects. In 2014 he was awarded a Masters degree from the Courtauld Institute of Art for work on Cinquecento drawings of the Baths of Diocletian in Rome. Recently his writing has been published in both academic journals (San Rocco and Journal of Art Historiography) and the architectural press (Architecture Today and Building Design).
Alongside David Leech (2015–16) and Tom Benton (2016–present), he runs an undergraduate design studio at Kingston University, and acts as a visiting lecturer in architectural history at the CASS School of Architecture and Central St Martins. His research interests include the history of architectural representation, the use of language and rhetoric in architectural practice, and the exhibition of architecture in the modern period.
17.00 ABSTRACT: The 1924 Form and Color show and the Critique of Architecture Criticism
For the very first issue in the Norwegian architectural journal Byggekunst in 1919 art historian Carl W. Schnitler (1879–1926) published an article entitled “Architecture Critisim” [“Arkitekturkritikk”]. According to Schnitler the sense for balance, constructive and organic correlations, made architecture the leading art form. In his mind however, there was in Norway an absence of an informed public discourse on architecture. Without an architectural awareness promoted through the public exchange of words, an informed artistic culture could not form. The expert journals did only give factual, technical descriptions, and the popular press the most superficial reports, and neither, Schnitler lamented, were suited to provide the public with the necessary understanding of the deeper, artistic values and principles of architecture. A true criticism had however to be conducted with an understanding of the arts as an organic expression of the time and the deepest powers of the mind, opening the eyes of the public for the arts.
This critique lay open the discrepancies of interests between various professional milieus in which architects actively attended, generating different form of architecture criticism in the decades around the turn of the 20th century, and sharpened by the economical crisis in the mid war period. This did not only come to expression in Journal articles, but also in exhibition displays and their reception. The show Form and Colour in 1924 at the former Tivoli in Kristiania (Oslo) with Schnitler in lead, collected a number of these actors – associations promoting craft, industry and art, and architects circulating in these groups. The show intended to display Helhetsvirkningen – The affect of totality guided by an architectonic instinct. Taking the Form and Colour show as point of departure, this paper looks into the conflicting ways the show, and the various actors taking part intended to conduct and form an architectural criticism.
BIO: Mathilde SIMONSEN DAHL, Ph.D Candidate, Oslo Centre for Critical Architectural Studies (OCCAS-AHO)
Mathilde Simonsen Dahl is a PhD candidate at the Institute of Form, Theory and History, in the Oslo School of Architecture and Design. She holds a master in architecture from AHO, and completed her master studies with an archival-based master thesis as part of the Place and Displacement project in 2012. Her doctoral dissertation is affiliated with the research project The Printed and Built, and investigates the site specific agencies of the temporary buildings for the 1883 Art and Industry Exhibition at Tullinløkka and the 1924 Form og Farve (Form and Colour) exhibition at the Tivoli.
17.30 ABSTRACT: Architectural Exhibitions as Critical Actor in Belgium 1883-1972
During the last quarter of the nineteenth century, the Société centrale d’architecture en Belgique (1872-2011) and its periodical L’Émulation (1874-1939) can be pointed out as both the foremost actor ànd vehicle of architectural criticism in Belgium. For a long time the periodical was the only specialized architectural journal in the country and in any case the longest-running architectural periodical Belgium has ever had. With the bloom of the Belgian architectural press in the interwar period and the (generally more studied) avant-garde periodicals such as 7 Arts or Bâtir, the by then rather traditional L’Émulation stood its ground. Rather than analysing the criticism as formulated in the articles in the journal, my paper would like to scrutinize the role of the architectural exhibitions organised by the SCAB and reported upon in L’Émulation – from 1883 onwards up till its centenary exhibition in 1972 – as actors of criticism. These exhibitions often combined historical drawings with contemporary representations of architectural projects. What makes them particularly interesting is that they did not only address a professional audience of architects, but also the ‘sister arts’ of painting and sculpture, and eventually the public at large, in an effort to forge a socially visible position for the architect and architecture. This position was largely inspired, from the early years of the SCAB onwards, by the editors’ ties with the academy of fine arts. Hence ‘l’architecte-artiste’ was the championed architect type and architecture’s artistic side (as arte del disegno) was being emphasized. Upon its centenary in 1972 the SCAB organized an exhibition entitled Architectuur, tekenkunst? Architecture, art du dessin? which partly consisted of the same pieces of the first 1883 exhibition. The sequence of exhibitions from 1883 to 1972 therefore offers an opportunity to make a bilan of nearly a century of architectural criticism through exhibitions.
BIO: Ellen VAN IMPE, Centre for Flemish Architectural Archives, Vlaamse Architectuur Instituut (Flanders Architecture Institute), Antwerp
Ellen Van Impe (b. 1976) studied Germanic languages and art history at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven and the University of Manchester. She defended her PhD Architectural Historiography in Belgium 1830-1914 in 2008 (KU Leuven). She works as a project leader at the Centre for Flemish Architectural Archives (CVAa) since 2008, co-authoring several manuals on architectural archives, thematic archive guides and articles on the archives of Belgian architects and on architectural periodicals. She publishes, furthermore, on the reception of the Arts and Crafts Movement in Belgium, on the Belgian Gothic Revival and on nineteenth-century architectural historiography. In 2013 she co-curated the exhibition Henry van de Velde. Letters of architects (Royal Library, Brussels).
18.00 ABSTRACT: “Borba’: a Daily Newspaper, an Architecture Prize and the Spectacle of Criticism
May an architecture prize, promoted by a popular medium, be considered a vehicle of criticism? If yes, which kind of discourse does it foster? Is it possible to speak about a spectacle of criticism? And if yes, which are its links within the professional community?
The answer to these questions might be found if the “Borba” prize for architecture is taken into account. Following various polls intended to define the state of architecture in SFR Yugoslavia, and in response to general dissatisfaction with the results, in 1965 the daily newspaper “Borba” organized an inter-republic competition in order to select each year «the best built architectural work in the Federation». This was done in collaboration with the Yugoslav Architects’ Federation in order «to help popularize the best architectural work» as “Borba” said announcing the very first competition. Since then and for almost 30 years, the newspaper and its prize attempted to foster «stronger creative and intellectual ties among architectural resources», developing at the same time a critical discourse and creating a communication channel between professionals and the society. Hence, the “Borba” initiative falls within a whole line of other contemporary actions meant to contribute to understanding Architecture (with a capital A), its problems and theoretical issues, as one of the key elements of the Yugoslav socio-cultural and politico-economic system.
The goal of this contribution is therefore to outline the meaning of the “Borba” award, highlighting the main features of both the popular and the professional aspects of the critical discourse which developed around it in SFR Yugoslavia.
In a broader perspective, the paper deals with interactions (and interdependences) of media and architecture. It investigates the relationship between different types of publications (daily newspapers/professional magazines) and the status of contemporary critical discourse. Moreover, it attempts to define to what extent do these publications and their target readerships influence or create specific forms of criticism – among which, the “spectacular” one.
BIO: Ines TOLIC, University of Bologna
Ines Tolic is Assistant Professor in History of Architecture at the University of Bologna. She graduated in Architecture from the Università Iuav di Venezia, and received a PhD in the History of Architecture and Urban History at the School of Advanced Studies in Venice. She wrote about the representation of architecture in movies (2006), about the role of United Nations as a planning agency (2011, 2014, 2017), about post-war architecture and urban design in Japan (2008 and 2009), as well as about contemporary architecture in South Africa (2010). Between 2010 and 2012, she has collaborated with the international research project Unfinished modernisations, Architecture and urban planning in former Yugoslavia and its successor states (2012). She is a part of the international research project Visualizing Venice (2013): www.visualizingvenice.org. While still developing the above mentioned research tracks, she is currently also working on a number of publications dealing with the architectural production of the inter-war period in Italy.
Session 3 Vehicles: ‘Visual’ Criticism
9.00 ABSTRACT: Writing through the Eye of an Architect. Erich Mendelsohn’s Visual Criticism
The role of Erich Mendelsohn’s criticism in the context of architectural theories during the 1920s has been widely ignored by historians. Despite being among the greatest protagonists of modernism architecture, his being mainly a practicing architect, and not openly involved in a teaching position or in organizations like the CIAM, has casted a shadow over his critical agency. Nevertheless, Mendelsohn sought a direct contact to a modernity-friendly audience, exploiting his connections with the publisher Lachman-Mosse and his role as well-established professional. In the second half of the 1920s Mendelsohn developed a peculiar criticism, which aimed to reproduce his own architectural visions through a purely visual language, i.e. using photography rather than descriptive texts. While his actual writings were often tainted by an expressionistic style, he tried to avoid an emphatic language using visual aphorisms instead, for example contrasting pictures, photographic sequences, removal of typographic elements. This was most effectively achieved when the architect has full control of his contributions, in particular in the books Amerika, Russia Europa Amerika and Neues Haus Neue Welt. Nevertheless, when the medium where he was contributing was a traditional newspaper – as it happened for his articles delivered while travelling in Greece – he was able to synthesize and present his thought with a pragmatic use of his famous sketches. Whether fostering his own ideas against those of orthodox functionalist architects, or contributing to international debates and preservation campaigns, the recurring concern in his contribution is the quest for clarity and immediacy. For Mendelsohn the modern public “wants to understand, but quickly, clearly, without a lot of furrowing of brows and mysticism”.
BIO: Michele STAVAGNA, Independant scholar, Berlin
Michele Stavagna, Dr. phil., studied Architectural Design (Laurea, 2000) and History of Architecture and Urban Design at the Università IUAV di Venezia (PhD, 2005 – Thesis: “I fotolibri di Erich Mendelsohn e l’immagine del Moderno” [Eric Mendelsohn’s Photo Books and the Image of Modernism]).
Michele Stavagna’s research focuses on the development and propaganda of modernism in architecture and design in the context of the mass audience and the economic development of modern society. Other major research topic are the photographic medium in architectural theory of the 20th century and the work of Eric Mendelsohn. He translated and edited the first Italian edition of Baukunst der neuesten Zeit by Gustav Adolf Platz -first historical account of Modernist Architecture published in 1927 by Propyläen Verlag, Berlin. He is a co-founder member of the international architectural research network Netzwerk Architekturwissenschaft e.V., founded in Berlin, August 2010.
Michele Stavagna has given lectures in Universities in Italy and Germany and presented papers at international conferences; among others: 10th & 11th International Bauhaus Colloquium, Weimar 2007 and 2009; 61st SAH Annual Meeting, Cincinnati, Ohio, 2008; 5th Scientific Meeting of the Greek Docomomo, Thessaloniki 2010, 2nd Forum Architekturwissenschaft, Darmstadt 2015.
9.30 ABSTRACT: Blending Textual and Visual Rhetoric for a Critical Discourse: Oscar Niemeyer and Marcel Gautherot at Modulo (1955-1962)
Brazilian Modern “Carioca” School buildings were received with sympathetic surprise after 1943 and worldwide acclaimed. Papadaki’s book on Oscar Niemeyer (1950) helped focus the international acknowledgment on his persona and works. The praising was followed by some stark and biased criticism, which prompted Niemeyer’s to edit in 1955 his own journal – Modulo, Architecture and Visual Art – to divulge and explain his works, and after 1957, the construction of Brasilia. From 1955 to 1962 he authored an intermittent series of articles where his texts and sketches are followed by Marcel Gautherot’s photographs, smartly assembled with suggestive graphic design. Despite being presented as “testimonies of an architect based merely on his work and professional experience with no erudite pretentious”, they constitute the most concerted effort on criticism and theory ever done by Niemeyer, a body of substantive arguments that he will keep on repeating along his professional life, even when his late works did not endorse them anymore. Its pedagogical tenor attempts to build a critical approach into a theory of architecture, properly supported by carefully chosen images, comparing correct solutions against simplistic errors of less erudite examples of modern architecture. Texts, sketches and photos stress analytical elements like pilotis, arches, toit-jardins, curved forms, arguing that they should not be criticized in themselves, but whenever they were used out of scale, proportion, “architectural unity” and proper concern to the urban space. The academic principles of composition and character transpire through the rhetorical structure of his arguments, never forgetting the past as a master, the vitruvian triad as a guide, plus the lessons of the Beaux-Arts system. This paper will dwell on the importance of Niemeyer’s criticism combined to Gautherot’s photographs – which divulge the first images of Brasilia – and on their interaction in the pages of Modulo.
BIO: Heliana ANGOTTI-SALGUEIRO and Ruth VERDE ZEIN, Mackenzie Presbyterian University, Sao Paulo
Heliana Angotti-Salgueiro : Historian, PhD in Art History and Urban History at École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (Paris, 1992), awarded as “The best thesis of EHESS in 1993”, and published in 1997 in France. She received Post-Doctoral grants by The Getty Foundation, FAPESP, and other institutions (ARIHA Fellow). She was Head Professor of the Chaire Brésilienne en Sc. Sociales (Maison des Sciences de l’Homme) teaching in several French universities (2004-2008). Actually she is attached to the Post-graduation Program in Architecture and Urbanism of Mackenzie Presbyterian University, in São Paulo. Among her interdisciplinary publications in French, see: “Pour une biographie culturelle des villes en mutation: le cas de Belo Horizonte et São Paulo”, in F. Pousin Figures de la ville et constructions des savoirs – Architecture, Urbanisme, Geographie. Paris: CNRS, 2005; latest publications in the field of photography are: O olho fotográfico. Marcel Gautherot e seu tempo. São Paulo: MAB-FAAP, 2007 (a bilingual edition, English/Portughese, with contributions of O. Lugon and L. Segala) – a catalogue of an international exhibition which she was the Curator; “Représenter et vivre le modernisme brésilien. La maison de Niemeyer à Rio de Janeiro dans l’optique de Marcel Gautherot » in V. Meyer et all., La Maison de l’artiste. Constructions d’un espace de représentations entre réalité et imaginaire. Presses Universitaires de Rennes: 2007 ; « Brasilia, ville radieuse photogénique », in K. Imesch Oechslin (dir.), Utopie et réalité de l’urbanisme au XXe siècle, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Chandigarh, Brasília. Gollion: Infolio, 2014; “Marcel Gautherot na revista Módulo – ensaios fotográficos, imagens do Brasil: entre a arquitetura e a cultura material e imaterial”, in Anais do Museu Paulista, vol. 22, n.1, São Paulo, Jan-Junho 2014, http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/0101-4714v22n1a02.
Ruth Verde Zein : Architect (FAU-USP, 1977), PhD in Theory, History and Critique (PROPAR-UFRGS, 2005). Her thesis on São Paulo Brutalist architecture of the 1950-70’s received the CAPES PRIZE 2006 for the best national doctoral thesis on architecture. Professor of Modern and Contemporary Architecture and Design in Graduated and Post-Graduated Studios at Mackenzie Presbyterian University, São Paulo, since 1997. Member of CICA – International Committee of Architectural Critics, since 1985. Brazilian delegate for the Ibero-American Biennials, 2002-2008 and member of its Jury and Advisory Board, 2010-2012. Research partner on the investigation “Architecture and Identity”, held by the Technische Universität Berlin, Habitat Unit (2003-2004). Member of the advisory board and the International Jury of the Rogelio Salmona Latin American Architectural Prize (since 2013). Member of SAH – Society of Architectural Historians. Member of EAHN – European Architectural History Network. Member of the Editorial Board of Architecture Histories Journal. Member of DOCOMOMO Brazil and International since 1998, current coordinator of Docomomo Brasil/São Paulo’s chapter. Has participated in several seminars, debates and given conferences and courses as visiting professor in Brazil and abroad. Has more than a hundred articles published and several books, like Three Moments of Oscar Niemeyer in São Paulo. São Paulo: MCB, 2007; Constructing Identity in Contemporary architecture, edited by Peter Herrle & Stephanus Schmitz, 2009; Brasil: Arquiteturas após 1950. São Paulo: Perspectiva, 2010 (with Maria Alice Junqueira Bastos); Non-West Modernist Past: on Architecture & Modernities, edited by William S.W.Lim & Jiat-Hwee Chang, 2012; Brutalist Connections: what it stands for. São Paulo: Altamira Editorial, 2014.
10.00 ABSTRACT: Among Criticism, Design and Photography. A Literary and Photographic Way for the Criticism in Shared Works by Vittorio Savi, Aldo Rossi and Luigi Ghirri (1972-1989)
Shared works by the critic Vittorio Savi (1948-2011), the architect Aldo Rossi (1931-1997) and the photographer Luigi Ghirri (1943-1992) represent a peculiar method of work on architectural criticism in Italy during the 70th and 80th. Through words and photographs Savi and Ghirri depict in their essays the Rossi’s architecture with an original genre of criticism: a literary approach based on a specific genre called by Savi «racconto critico»; photography begin an instruments of criticism which use the original subject like a pretext to develop autonomous and original works.
While the subject of the criticism remains the Rossi’s work, the researches by Savi and Ghirri develop an autonomous language that can be read as autonomous critical work; from one side it is a critical read of Rossi’s architecture, from the other side it is based on the research on the meaning of the instrument used. From the first monograph of Rossi’s works (V. Savi, L’architettura di Aldo Rossi, 1976) to the exhibition Paesaggio. Immagine e realtà (1981), from the article by Savi and Ghirri about Rossi’s Cemetery in Modena published in «Lotus International» (1982) to the exhibition at Triennale di Milano Un viaggio in Italia (1987) edited by Savi and V. Magnago Lampugnani, exhibitions, monographs and articles are the principal vehicles to present a shared critical work. Architectural drawings, photographs and literature appear combined by the authors to narrating architecture and cities translating the Italian post-war tradition of narration of places by literature and photography employed, for example, by Elio Vittorini, Cesare Zavattini and Paul Strand and a critical hypothesis based on the Charles Baudelaire’s and Thomas Stearns Eliot’s thought.
The research is focused on the critical instruments used by the authors; after an historical reconstruction of the events based on the bibliography and on unpublished documents conserved in private archives (Vittorio Savi Archive – Doccia; Luigi Ghirri Archive – Modena; Aldo Rossi Archive – Roma) the work concerns significant circumstance of the development of critical hypothesis in Italy during the 70th and 80th.
BIO: Matteo CASSANI SIMONETTI, University of Bologna
Graduated in 2010 at Faculty of Architecture of Ferrara, in 2014 he becomes PhD in architecture at the Department of Architecture of University of Bologna with a research on the works of Piero Bottoni in Ferrara (tutor prof. Giovanni Leoni). He has participated at national and international congress (University of Clermont-Ferrand (FR), University of Leicester (GB), University of Ferrara, University of Firenze, Politecnico di Torino and Politecnico di Bari) and he has published texts about history of architecture during 19th and 20th century and about the link between architectural criticism and photography. Since 2014 he is adjunct professor of History of architecture at the Department of Architecture of University of Bologna. He won an Erasmus-Mundus post-doctoral fellowship at the Department of Arts of University of Haifa (December 2015-June 2016; tutor prof. R. Fuchs) about Jewish contribute to Italian architectural culture.
Session 4: Critical Competencies: Non-Canonical Architectural Critics and Criticism
11.00 ABSTRACT: The Manifesto as a Vehicle of Criticism in Architectural Discourse
‘Architects have to stop thinking in terms of buildings only.’ With this statement from his manifesto ‘Everything is architecture’, published in 1968 in the Austrian neo-avant-garde journal ‘bau’, Hans Hollein shocked the audience and offended his colleagues. Since architecture is mere conditioning of behaviour and environment, he was implying, everything could be architecture and buildings were just the traditional way of fulfilling architectural tasks.
Because peoples’ senses are the basis for the way we perceive the environment, Hollein calls on the architectural community to initiate a fundamental shift from the importance of meaning to the importance of effect. The sentence quoted from his manifesto can be read as the central idea of his work, which was meandering between the disciplines of architecture, design and art.
The Manifesto as a medium of reception control as well as a powerful vehicle of criticism in architectural discourse has got a centennial tradition, started by the avant-gardes at the beginning of the last century. By describing the current state as retrogressive, they used the resulting vacuum to sell their own ideas. In the 1920th the manifestos were published in magazines like ‘G’, typically as a symbiosis of text and image. In 1923 Mies proclaimed his ‘Arbeitsthesen’ (work thesis), beginning with a refusal of speculation, doctrine and formalism, followed by a description of an ideal office building, which he sketched directly underneath.
In the 1960s and 1970s, after the break of World War II and the first Post-war years, flourishing Magazine as ‘bau’, ‘domus’, ‘Architectural Design’ and ‘casabella’ published manifestos of a European Neo-Avantgarde. In the lecture the functioning and the meaning of the manifesto as a powerful vehicle of criticism and advertisement in architectural discourse (as well as their development) will be analysed by selected examples of theses magazines.
BIO: Anna KLOKE, Technische Universität Dortmund
Christina Anna Kloke has been an Assistant Professor at the TU Dortmund University (Germany) since 2015. She teaches and does research in the fields of both Architectural History and Theory. She received her Ph.D. from the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar in 2015. Her thesis was about ‘The manifesto as a medium of reception control in the discourse of architecture and design’. From 2009 to 2015, she was a research assistant and lecturer at the Hochschule Niederrhein, University of Applied Sciences, in the Faculty of Design. She studied Interior Design and Architecture as well as Art and DesignScience in Detmold, Essen and Bochum.
11.30 ABSTRACT: Delirious Realism: The Intermedial Architectural Criticism of Siegfried Kracauer
In 1920, the trained architect Siegfried Kracauer abandons his original profession and embarks on a career as a critic for the Frankfurter Zeitung. With the almost two thousand articles Kracauer writes before being exiled from Germany in 1933 on theater, art, film, photography, sociology, politics and cultural phenomena of the Weimar Republic’s nascent mass culture, the subject of architecture occupies a peculiar position. As an architectural critic he remains strangely distant, reluctant to take a stance – a “waiting” attitude which, as I want to argue, is a key to understanding his interests in mass media such as photography and cinema and their relation to historiography.
In order to gain access to what one might call the architectural in Kracauer’s thinking, I propose to turn his epistemological method against himself. By searching amidst the “inconspicuous surface-level expressions” that “by virtue of their unconscious nature, provide unmediated access to the fundamental substance of the state of things1,” one might bring to light what Kracauer himself took great pains to conceal. To simply say that architecture was a means for practicing his phenomenological sensibilities for the “primacy of the optical” – which, as Adorno claims, would persist in his writing in a “sublimated” form – ignores the prominent yet necessarily inconspicuous position it holds. Architecture becomes a redemptive figure that bears the promise of resolving the irreconcilable contradictions of modernity. For Kracauer, architecture persists as the delirious image that in itself bears the potential for rescuing the alienated subject out of his transcendental homelessness. Yet to fulfill this function, it must at the same time remain disguised at the unspeakable center of his writing.
While a Bilderverbot (ban on images) lies at the heart of Adorno’s aesthetic theory, an Architekturverbot (ban on architecture) governs Kracauer’s criticism. He circumvents the self-protective ban on architecture by retrieving it as image, as “spatial images (Raumbilder) that are the dreams of a society.” Kracauer’s criticism hence arranges images and dreams in constellations akin to architecture. His interest photography and film share with architecture the fundamental quality of eluding “the grasp of systematic thought2.” Rather representing the objective world they bring out what Kracauer would call an “intermediary area” that should help the reader of criticism to “think through things, not above them.”
I will attempt to resuscitate the architectural critic Kracauer by, on the one hand, giving a diachronic overview of his unknown or overseen writings on architecture, on the other, putting those writings into the context of his canonical texts on mass and visual culture.
1 Siegfried Kracauer, Das Ornament der Masse (Frankfurt a.M.: 1963); The Mass Ornament, trans. Thomas Y. Levin (Cambridge, Mass.: 1995), 75
2 Siegfried Kracauer, History: The Last Things before the Last (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1969), 191.
BIO: Lutz ROBBERS, Jade University, Oldenburg
Lutz Robbers holds a Ph.D. in the History and Theory of Architecture from Princeton
University. He taught architectural theory at the RWTH Aachen, at the Bauhaus-University,
Columbia University and Princeton. Prior to that he was a research fellow at the
Internationales Kolleg für Kulturtechnikforschung und Medienphilosophie (IKKM), Bauhaus-
Universität Weimar, where he was part of the research group « Tools of Design ». He held
research positions at the Cité de l’architecture et du patrimoine in Paris, the London Schoolof Economics’ « Cities Programme » and the German Forum of Art History in Paris. Currently heteaches architectural theory at the Jade University in Oldenburg and serves as editor of the journal Candide – Journal for Architectural Knowledge.
Recent publications include: « In the City’s Soft Image: Mies van der Rohe and Cinematic
Time, » in: Design and Cinema: Form Follows Film, ed. Belkis Uluoglu, Newcastle upon Tyne,
2006; « Die Metropole als Attraktion, » in: Metropolen 1850-1950: Mythen – Bilder – Entwürfe/
mythes – images – projets, ed. Jean-Louis Cohen, Hartmut Frank, Berlin 2010; « Espaces pour
jeux de lumière: Mies van der Rohe, le cinéma, l’innervation, » in: Spielraum: Walter Benjamin et l’architecture, ed. Libero Andreotti, Paris 2011; « Film als Dispositiv in G: Material zur elementaren Gestaltung, » in: Kritische Berichte, no. 4, 2012; « Filmkämpfer Mies, » in: Mies van der Rohe im Diskurs: Innovationen – Haltungen – Werke, ed. Kerstin Plüm, Bielefeld 2013; « 1912 – Hellerau as Spielraum,” in: Participation in Art and Architecture: Spaces of Participation and Occupation, Hg. Mechtild Widrich und Martino Stierli. London 2015.
12.00 ABSTRACT: On Via Gluck: Adriano Celentano as Architectural Critic
Italian superstar Adriano Celentano’s well-known hit Il ragazzo della via Gluck (1966) is not the only song in which the singer-songwriter criticizes modern architecture and urbanization; his I want to know (1976) about the lack of space in modern apartments being at least nationally just as famous. My contribution proposes a perspective on the Italian pop star as a critic of architecture, analyzing Celentano’s lyrics and music as well as their extraordinarily successful dissemination. What such pop-criticism (obviously) lacks in expertise, I will argue, it gains in proximity to the audience and acute awareness of the experience of architecture in the everyday. What is more, the Ragazzo della Via Gluck addresses the post-war suburban reality of Italian cities at a time when key figures of the professional debate such as Robert Venturi or Colin Rowe were idealizing the Italian inner city and its piazza. With its spot-on polemics and ignorance of professional concerns and terms, Celentano’s criticism seems more informed and actually was at the spearhead postmodern critique.
What is particularly interesting regarding the workshop’s focus on competencies is Celentano’s incompetence in architecture and his competence in music. Already the title of his I want to know brings up his lack of understanding, in this case the incapacity of a lay person to grasp the aims of modern architecture. Celentano’s music, on the other hand, perfectly mirrors the design and experience of the modern housing estates he criticizes with its pronounced repetitiveness and almost annoyingly slow rhythm.
I thus propose to extend the notion of the actors and vehicles of architectural criticism to singer-songwriters and pop songs. Not least their capacity to reach an audience far beyond the limits of the discipline underlines their status as central contributors and contributions to a debate on architecture beyond elite circles.
BIO: Erik WEGERHOFF, Technische Universität, Müncheno
Erik is a fixed-term lecturer (wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter) for the History and Theory of Architecture at the Technische Universitaet Munich, Germany, and an architectural critic publishing regularly in the German magazine „Baumeister“.
He received his PhD from the ETH Zurich with a thesis on the reuses and reinterpretations of the Colosseum after Antiquity, supported by fellowships of the Bibliotheca Hertziana, Rome, and the Gerda Henkel Foundation, published in 2012 as „Das Kolosseum. Bewundert, bewohnt, ramponiert“. Erik’s current research project investigates how architectural discourse reacted to the automobile in the twentieth century.
Recently, Erik organized a conference in Rome on architects’ travels to Italy in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries (together with Kai Kappel and Sybille Ebert-Schifferer), and the conference „On the Road/Ueber die Strasse“ in Munich on the automobile road as a largely overlooked product of modern architecture. The outcome of the latter is a little edited book of the same title which is just about to be published.