Architectural historian William Curtis proposes to take a long view of Le Corbusier, approaching him as if he is 100 years away in order to bypass what he calls the “modernist and postmodernist fungus.” For Curtis, the modernist fungus is a distorted view of the last sixty years that concentrates on functionalism and rationalism at the expense of the extremely complex mythical substructures of modern architecture. The postmodernist fungus is an equally distorted attempt to demonize modern architecture, and blame it for everything wrong in the world. Curtis argues that a good place to start might be the 1920s, a period when all of the rules of architecture changed.
Video Archive | Postmodernism (43)
Anthony Vidler presents an argument tracing the trajectory of historicism and its contribution to the development of the concept of the historic monument. Introduced by Ron McCoy, he explains how Nietzsche’s idea of the past becoming the gravedigger of the present applies to such examples as the restoration of St. Mark’s Campanile in Venice, among others. Describing a sometimes cult-like obsession with objects of the past, Vidler shows how historicism developed through the 19th and 20th centuries. Concluding with a look at post-modern fascinations with the historic sublime, he notes how ridiculousness is often another side of the same coin.
Tadao Ando talks about some residential projects he has completed in Japan. He is dissatisfied with both the disregard for the occupant inherent in modernism, and the superficial elements of postmodernism. He points out several unique cultural aspects of Japanese residences, namely their size, and the Japanese desire for courtyards. Ando’s desire is to blend his designs into nature, or at least attempt to introduce natural qualities in his designs, while working with modern materials such as concrete and glass.
Through an English translation provided by George Kunihiro, Tadao Ando criticizes the modern movement for not thinking of the user, and the postmodernist movement for its superficiality. Ando characterizes his goal as reintroducing a mode of expression back into modernist architecture, taking into account both nature and regional context.
Aldo van Eyck’s presentation is followed by a panel discussion with Christian Norberg-Schulz an an unidentified woman. Norberg-Schulz agrees with van Eyck’s premise that modernism was misunderstood, but proposes a phenomenological approach, such as described by Edmund Husserl, that goes beyond an analytic examination by treating objects as things. The unidentified panelist suggests that there’s a connection between van Eyck European Space Agency columns and those used by Robert Venturi. Van Eyck protests, claiming that his columns are the way they are so that people could touch their tops and comments thatVenturi’s suffer from “columnitis.”
The moderator asks the panel how to determine if a piece is composed of applied memories or of original ideas. Van Eyck declares that memory is not a history warehouse and that he prefers to discuss temporal perspective and depth. The discussion concludes with an argument about the tendency to focus on European, history, thought and culture.
The lecture and two panel discussions documented in this video did not take place at SCI-Arc. Aldo van Eyck presents a selection of his work, showing each project briefly and using each to explain a particular idea about his work. He talks about a Catholic Church project in The Hague where he creates a high space on a small site with a small budget. His 1959 orphanage in Amsterdam deals with how to articulate a large flat roof, while another church project is about dematerializing walls. Showing the columns of his European Space Agency project, van Eyck stresses the importance of creating your own solutions. His presentation is followed by a panel discussion including Christian Norberg-Schulz. This is followed by another, different, panel discussion with Norberg-Schulz on urban semiotics.
Mario Campi gives a lecture about his design methods and how he deals with site and form. He focuses on a few projects, some houses, a museum, and a gymnasium, allowing him to go into detail in describing the formal, material, and circulatory aspects. Throughout the lecture Campi illustrates his concepts and beliefs regarding architecture through models, drawings, and built work.