Actors and Vehicles of Architectural Criticism (13)

The Manifesto as a Vehicle of Criticism in Architectural Discourse
Anna Kloke
Technische Universität Dortmund

‘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.


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.

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