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View Poll Results: Has architectural modernism failed?
Yes 190 45.13%
No 231 54.87%
Voters: 421. You may not vote on this poll

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Old September 6th, 2011, 04:13 AM   #301
Eduardo L. Ramirez
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In my opinion, modernism of course has failed. But that was already foreseeable some 250 years ago.
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Old September 30th, 2011, 02:37 AM   #302
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What exactly IS modernism? Comparing the architecture of a grand railway station or theater (signal buildings that have often been kept) with modern commies is like comparing apples and oranges - housing for the masses and average buildings have always put function over form. Just look at New York: the ornate masterpieces of the central city compared to the hideous brownstones of its surroundings. Non-ornate has always, ALWAYS been the norm. But non-ornate, non-special buildings were usually knocked down after a while, ornate and special weren't.

So what exactly did modernism (such as the term is usually understood) bring to the table? It turned rejecting form over function into a form promoted over function in itself - and as such not only failed its goal by definition, it removed what made people want to keep the rare examples of beautiful earlier architecture in the first place.

To me, this seems to be a huge majority view today. The people want more ornaments and seem to always side with old and ornate over new and non-ornate, but they rarely side with the old and non-ornate, even in cases where there are historic reasons to keep a building. Even architects, usually so slavishly bound by their gurus and their trends, "secretly" began forming the building as an ornament in itself. If they couldn't place ornaments on the buildings basic form, they could at least change that basic form into something beautiful in its own right.

So, yeah, architectural modernism has failed, and hence been long abandoned. And good riddance, I say.
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Old October 1st, 2011, 06:04 AM   #303
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Since when has it been abandoned?

I think one huge issue is that Modernism means so many different things, to many different people. What exactly is "modernism", anyways? Y?ou could claim Modernism is the International style, but does that mean American Mid-Century Modernism is not Modernism, nor is the high-tech look of the 70's? But if you define Modernism more broadly, what exactly are you defining it as?

I think we should move away from defining Modernism as a style and instead use other terms to define more specific terms - Mid Century, Brutalism, International Style, Post, High Tech, and maybe a few more yet-undefined terms for current types. Modernism itself I think is more an approach - thinking in terms of volumes. I think of it like this: Classical is about taking a given set of pieces, and then assembling them in terms of general rules. Kind of like a building block set. The structure gets built out of these pieces and the functions are fit into that. Transitional, which I kind of use to define some Art Nouveau and Art Deco, started exploring function as the initial driver, and used line and flow to create the underlining structure and ornament to compliment it. Modernism started with space, and used geometrical shapes to create the structure. Many Modernist design movements, such as the international Style, really tried to get completely away from ornament and styling, but I think there are some movements, mid century modern in particular (googie and atomic modern especially) used it to good effect (in most cases). I think you can still have traditional looking buildings using Modern design principles.
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Old October 1st, 2011, 04:30 PM   #304
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Modernism to me is the philosophy of function over form. As you say, it's divided into several subgroups and perhaps speaking of the more specific subgroups is a clearer and less fuzzy way of talking about architecture, but that was not the question put to us. The pure idea of deliberately making the looks of a building less than it could be has been abandoned imho - and not recently. Sure, there will be gusts from the past every now and then, but overall I think architects today understand that form matters.

Edit: I would like to add that this doesn't mean we're heading for a new classicism revival. In fact, the styles promoted today are brand new, not throwbacks to "the world before modernism". I'm saying that the concept of compromising function *just a little* to achieve beauty is being taken back.
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Old October 3rd, 2011, 06:35 PM   #305
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spearman View Post
Modernism to me is the philosophy of function over form.
Yeah, that's what people say, however, most post- war modernism buildings biting the dust today face the sledge hammer because, unlike classicism, they are dysfunctional.
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Old October 3rd, 2011, 08:30 PM   #306
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Originally Posted by Spearman View Post
Modernism to me is the philosophy of function over form. As you say, it's divided into several subgroups and perhaps speaking of the more specific subgroups is a clearer and less fuzzy way of talking about architecture, but that was not the question put to us. The pure idea of deliberately making the looks of a building less than it could be has been abandoned imho - and not recently. Sure, there will be gusts from the past every now and then, but overall I think architects today understand that form matters.

Edit: I would like to add that this doesn't mean we're heading for a new classicism revival. In fact, the styles promoted today are brand new, not throwbacks to "the world before modernism". I'm saying that the concept of compromising function *just a little* to achieve beauty is being taken back.
If you want to invent your own definition of modernism and then discount it without using a single example then I can't find your argument very convincing.

Also, I think you missed the whole point of functionalism. Functionalism never dictated a philosophy that "function is above form".. The generally accepted definition of functionalism is more like the famous quote "form follows function". That is to say that the beauty of an object should arise or be inspired by its intended function. This is a completely different philosophy from the one that you have stated and, as far as I can tell, invented yourself. I would cite Alvar Aalto, a famous Finnish architect here, who found a parallel to nature itself - nature is the true functionalist, and the beauty of plants for instance, arises out of a kind of function.

Furthermore, many of the most prominent and successful architects of the modern period were never true functionalists. They may have touted functionalism, but in reality, they employed an aesthetic approach, that had been inspired by functionalist imagery. In many cases, functionalist motifs were employed as covert decoration, often cleverly disguised - witness the steel sections that adorn Mies Van der Rohe's seagram building. There is nothing functional about those steels, as the real steels are behind the facade. The steels on the facade are basically there as decoration. But I digress..
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Old October 3rd, 2011, 08:30 PM   #307
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Yeah, that's what people say, however, most post- war modernism buildings biting the dust today face the sledge hammer because, unlike classicism, they are dysfunctional.
Again, who says that? Since when has that ever been a valid definition of functionalism? See post above.
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Old October 3rd, 2011, 08:52 PM   #308
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Originally Posted by AnOldBlackMarble View Post
I guess you have never heard of frescoes and mosaics.
I have, thanks.

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If you claim that Roman buildings in their own time looked like the pictures you posted you have proved yourself to be either a deceiver or at least self deceived.
Roman (ie middle/upper class) houses looked exactly like riads of Islamic World - bland on the outside (ie see the photos of Pompeii (and no, exteriors of urban housing were never decorated)) and beautiful on the inside ; with peristyles and extensive gardens. Theres similarities even in paintings and mosaics with their stylised floral motifs.

Islam inherited and preserved the knowledge of the Ancient World, so it is no surprise then that it resembles it as well.

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Ignoring erosion over time and volcanic damage also adds to the distrust in your statements. Did you seriously not contemplate the damage of 18 centuries of erosion on the villa and 400 degree hot volcanic ash rushing at 100 miles and hour burning the plaster off Pompeii's walls? If you did not then nothing you say can be trusted.
What on Earth are you blabing on about? Roman cities consisted of narrow streets and bland buildings. 18 centuries of erosion does not change that.

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One of the main things that ancient Rome is famous for, is its highly decorated architecture.
Public buildings, which, for the most part, were confined to one part of a city - The Forum.

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Anyway, if you want to make a point be honest about it and don't twist the truth to fit your perspective because you are more in love with your perspective over the facts of reality.
Im perfectly honest and Im not twisting anything either, Roman cities were indeed dark, dirty affairs consisting of narrow streets and bland buildings. Here and there were grandness and beauty, yes, but that was just a small part of a city and this grandness and beauty certainly wasnt built for the plebs to admire. It was self-glorification.

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You act like an expert yet it is your own very words and examples that clearly show you don't comprehend what you think you know, as well as you assume you know it.
I studied art history and ancient civilizations, so I do know thing or two, thanks very much. So once again - Roman cities were indeed dark, dirty affairs consisting of narrow streets and bland buildings. Here and there were grandness and beauty, yes, but that was just a small part of a city and this grandness and beauty certainly wasnt built for the plebs to admire. It was self-glorification. This is not a lie, but simple truth. Indeed it is a lie to suggest, as some on here did, that Rome/pre-Industrial World, was some kind of Utopia filled with beauty, for everyone and anyone.
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Old October 3rd, 2011, 08:59 PM   #309
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Again, who says that? Since when has that ever been a valid definition of functionalism? See post above.
Le Corbusier famously said "a house is a machine for living in". Functionalism is not all about losing the ornaments. It's about creating a design that is based on the function of the building in question. It was part of the modernist utopia that so horribly failed. Modernist buildings were deisgned to make life easier for the modern human being, yet they ended up being failures.

My point is that many people today defend modernism saying things like "at least it was/is functional", functional in the Le Corbusier sense of the word i.e. a place that is convinient and makes living easier. Most of these place ended up being abandoned.
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Old October 3rd, 2011, 09:28 PM   #310
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Originally Posted by Mr Bricks View Post
Le Corbusier famously said "a house is a machine for living in". Functionalism is not all about losing the ornaments. It's about creating a design that is based on the function of the building in question. It was part of the modernist utopia that so horribly failed. Modernist buildings were deisgned to make life easier for the modern human being, yet they ended up being failures.

My point is that many people today defend modernism saying things like "at least it was/is functional", functional in the Le Corbusier sense of the word i.e. a place that is convinient and makes living easier. Most of these place ended up being abandoned.
I'm sorry to say this and I do not wish to flame, but frankly your comments are laughable, and come from a view that is 30-40 years out of date. According to you, modernist buildings were failures and have been abandoned.. How does that account for the fact that so many people love some of the most modern and avant garde buildings of the 20th century. In fact, almost all of the best buildings of the last 100 years worldwide could be described as modernist. So how do you account for that in your calculation that modernist buildings ended up being failures.

On the subject of utopias, please realise that there was a very real need for change in the early 20th century. What you call "utopias" were simply part of history, and are now intrinsic to modern life. Maybe you would prefer to go back to the dark ages, but then you should probably stop using a computer and commenting on an internet forum. I'd go further and say that buildings being abandoned doesn't change anything... Do you think non-modernist buildings have never been abandoned?? You should realise that most of the early buildings eg after world war 2 were using very experimental building technology (I would add that this was indeed driven by functional concerns), that were not always successful from a building technology point of view, when you abandon older forms of construction it takes some time to learn how to properly detail buildings to cope with weathering etc. This is a technological failure, but what we are debating is the design, and it would be unfair to penalise modern architecture in general from a few technological failures that owed to rushed reconstruction without proper understanding, whilst forgetting that people were living in absolutely horrific conditions in older pre-modern housing. Another thing to take into account is that, surprise surprise, buildings do need maintenance, and surprise surprise no building lasts forever without being maintained. The only reason classical buildings still look good is because they are cleaned on a regular basis. St Pauls cathedral in london is often described as a great work of baroque classcism, however if you saw it in the late 19th century literally covered and blacked by coal smoke, I'm sure you would see things differently. It is completely unfair to notice a 40-50+ year old building being abandoned out of neglect and then calculate that modernism is a failure.

Then there is the famous le corbusier quote.. Interestingly a lot of people know this quote, but most people who use that quote know very little about le corbusier, because anyone who knows their le corbusier, knows that what he actually built bears little resemblance to his own spoken doctrines. Le corbusier may have been inspired at one period of his long career, by the beauty of machines, but in many peoples view (and I would include those people who actually have been to his buildings), his overriding concerns were light and sculptural form.

"Functionalism is not all about losing the ornaments" ... no need to comment on this one... just reread what you wrote.

Finally, if you think that modernism is a failure, are you then suggesting that architects should build new buildings in a classical style? And do you think those buildings would be successful given modern building techniques.
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Old October 3rd, 2011, 10:47 PM   #311
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What on Earth are you blabing on about? Roman cities consisted of narrow streets and bland buildings. 18 centuries of erosion does not change that.
You do know that the pictures already posted by you (IIRC) included corinthian capitals, right? You do realize that most of those buildings would have been decorated whenever the owners were able to afford it, and that immense amounts of lava and almost 2,000 years might change a facade just a bit, right? They're called "ruins" for a reason.

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Public buildings, which, for the most part, were confined to one part of a city - The Forum.
Only if you ignore the Esquiline, Capitoline and Palatine Hills...and the Pantheon...and the Baths of Caracalla/Trajan/Diocletian...

And even that aside, ancient societies couldn't churn out beautiful buildings at will because they were restricted by their respective productive capacities. Saying that the most exceptional buildings were exception is not only a tautology, but it is also one that quietly sneaks away from the substance of the matter: that Roman architecture, when and where it could, embraced all manner of ornament and beautification, and did so successfully. All the "masters" of modernism have flatly failed to match this.

In short, it comes down to this: pre-modernist architecture was pretty good at creating beautiful and pleasing spaces when it had the resources to do so...modernist architecture can't pull that off even with modern industry. That's the glaring problem that no defender of modernism seems capable of addressing, let alone answering.

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Indeed it is a lie to suggest, as some on here did, that Rome/pre-Industrial World, was some kind of Utopia filled with beauty, for everyone and anyone.
No one's saying that...what people are saying (and what most people agree with) is that pre-modernist architecture is far more beautiful than what's been going on since the 1940's.
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Old October 3rd, 2011, 11:09 PM   #312
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In fact, almost all of the best buildings of the last 100 years worldwide could be described as modernist. So how do you account for that in your calculation that modernist buildings ended up being failures.
You can only make that argument because the last 100 years have been dominated by modernism. This "achievement" of yours is by virtue of a virtual monopoly, not much more than that.
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Old October 3rd, 2011, 11:46 PM   #313
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I'm sorry to say this and I do not wish to flame, but frankly your comments are laughable, and come from a view that is 30-40 years out of date.
Just like your reply is the typical babble I always get to hear.


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Originally Posted by PadArch View Post
According to you, modernist buildings were failures and have been abandoned.. How does that account for the fact that so many people love some of the most modern and avant garde buildings of the 20th century. In fact, almost all of the best buildings of the last 100 years worldwide could be described as modernist. So how do you account for that in your calculation that modernist buildings ended up being failures.
First of all, most people hate modernism. And just to clear things up the modernism I was talking about is the 30- year- old stuff. All the best buildings of the last 100 years are modernist because most of what has been built over that perisod is modernist. Answered your own question there.

I exaggerated when I said all modernist buildings were failures. I live in a country where modernism was introduced quite successfully and where most people live in modernist apartment buildings. However, the most sought after homes are the Jugend and classical building in the inner city. Not everone can afford that though, but I can assure you that most people would prefer it if the suburbs of Helsinki would have been built in Jugend style instead of the drab concrete we got instead.

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Originally Posted by PadArch View Post
On the subject of utopias, please realise that there was a very real need for change in the early 20th century. What you call "utopias" were simply part of history, and are now intrinsic to modern life.
They are part of histoty just like the Holocaust is. That doesn't mean I can't criticize utopians and their ideas. You are right that many politicians and intellectuals called for change in the early 20th century, but there was no more need for it then than there is now. The idea of change and modernisation back then was perverse and unhuman. The reason so many Europeans welcomed the great war was that they had been brainwashed for years to think that the war would have a clansing effect ridding the world of powerty, slums and the "old world" in general. It is a fascinating case to study. Some people wanted a major disaster, a great biblical flood to clear the table so that mankind could start over. Even of it would cost millions of people their lives. The "need for change" was a type of mass hysteria and a psychological phenomenon that sent Europe to hell and back - twice.

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Originally Posted by PadArch View Post
Maybe you would prefer to go back to the dark ages, but then you should probably stop using a computer and commenting on an internet forum.
Er...sorry what?

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Originally Posted by PadArch View Post
I'd go further and say that buildings being abandoned doesn't change anything... Do you think non-modernist buildings have never been abandoned??
No I don't think that. Non- modernist buildings have mostly been abandoned after being left to rot. These modernist housing estates were abandoned because people disliked them from the start and only then started falling into decay.

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Originally Posted by PadArch View Post
You should realise that most of the early buildings eg after world war 2 were using very experimental building technology (I would add that this was indeed driven by functional concerns), that were not always successful from a building technology point of view, when you abandon older forms of construction it takes some time to learn how to properly detail buildings to cope with weathering etc. This is a technological failure, but what we are debating is the design, and it would be unfair to penalise modern architecture in general from a few technological failures that owed to rushed reconstruction without proper understanding, whilst forgetting that people were living in absolutely horrific conditions in older pre-modern housing.
You can explain all you want but the only reason people moved into these modernist creations was because they could offer a better standard of living. Had those old slums been renovated and equipped with plumbing, heating and other necessities people would have been more than happy to stay. Refurbished slums and warehouses are very desirable places to live these days.

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Originally Posted by PadArch View Post
Another thing to take into account is that, surprise surprise, buildings do need maintenance, and surprise surprise no building lasts forever without being maintained. The only reason classical buildings still look good is because they are cleaned on a regular basis. St Pauls cathedral in london is often described as a great work of baroque classcism, however if you saw it in the late 19th century literally covered and blacked by coal smoke, I'm sure you would see things differently. It is completely unfair to notice a 40-50+ year old building being abandoned out of neglect and then calculate that modernism is a failure.

You have a point what why do you think people see classical buildings as worth preserving while modernist buildings are being knocked down? St Paul's was very much considered a masterpiece in the 19th century, just as it is today.

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Then there is the famous le corbusier quote.. Interestingly a lot of people know this quote, but most people who use that quote know very little about le corbusier, because anyone who knows their le corbusier, knows that what he actually built bears little resemblance to his own spoken doctrines. Le corbusier may have been inspired at one period of his long career, by the beauty of machines, but in many peoples view (and I would include those people who actually have been to his buildings), his overriding concerns were light and sculptural form.
Whatever. A large number of architects were inspired by him.

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Originally Posted by PadArch View Post
"Functionalism is not all about losing the ornaments" ... no need to comment on this one... just reread what you wrote.
Maybe you should comment on this.

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Finally, if you think that modernism is a failure, are you then suggesting that architects should build new buildings in a classical style? And do you think those buildings would be successful given modern building techniques.
No I never suggested that. There are many fine modern buildings out there, however, the majority of what's being built these days is bland.
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Old October 4th, 2011, 12:00 AM   #314
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You do know that the pictures already posted by you (IIRC) included corinthian capitals, right? You do realize that most of those buildings would have been decorated whenever the owners were able to afford it, and that immense amounts of lava and almost 2,000 years might change a facade just a bit, right? They're called "ruins" for a reason.


As I said earlier the Roman urbanity has survived in the Islamic World and as such Islamic cities are a good place to look when talking about Roman cities and these photos were posted to illustrate exactly that. The riads look more or less the same as Roman peristyle houses - columns, fountains, mosaics, frescoes etc. However on the outside, both riads and peristyle houses, no matter how rich the owners were, are plain - a simple flat wall covered in white plaster/paint and nothing more. This is fact and it just goes to show that, unlike what many on here said, ancient cities were not awash with beautiful buildings, on the contrary - they were full of filth and utter blandness! The only grandness was to be found in the Forum or the main arcaded streets leading to/from city gates. However even then the grandness was built to glorify oneself and not for the plebs to gawk at. Indeed the public space in the Roman times was not public at all! So all this talk about the past being more beautiful than today is simply not true.

Anyway, what is the definition of beauty? People on here go on and on about the old architecture being more beautiful than modern, but is it? Are those medieval buildings of Siena really beautiful? I dont think they are, in fact if we are being honest Id say they look quite brutal. I have no photos of Siena, so heres the next best thing, Pitigliano, also in Tuscany -

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Tuscany
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Tuscany
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Old October 4th, 2011, 01:19 AM   #315
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As I said earlier the Roman urbanity has survived in the Islamic World and as such Islamic cities are a good place to look when talking about Roman cities and these photos were posted to illustrate exactly that. The riads look more or less the same as Roman peristyle houses - columns, fountains, mosaics, frescoes etc. However on the outside, both riads and peristyle houses, no matter how rich the owners were, are plain - a simple flat wall covered in white plaster/paint and nothing more. This is fact and it just goes to show that, unlike what many on here said, ancient cities were not awash with beautiful buildings, on the contrary - they were full of filth and utter blandness! The only grandness was to be found in the Forum or the main arcaded streets leading to/from city gates. However even then the grandness was built to glorify oneself and not for the plebs to gawk at. Indeed the public space in the Roman times was not public at all! So all this talk about the past being more beautiful than today is simply not true.
As I said, important public buildings weren't just in the forum. The Pantheon? The Baths of Caracalla/Trajan/Diocletian? The whole Capitoline Hill? The Theatre of Pompey?

Oh, and just wondering, how many free bathhouses are available to the general public in our brave modernist world? How many free stadia?

Back to the point, you're still missing the point that pre-modern societies had not the productive capacity to create optimal space and form and decoration in regular buildings. It was simply an impossibility to have soaring gothic arches on every building in the gothic period...but that has nothing to do with the gothic style of architecture in and of itself. You talk of blandness, but this is as absurd as saying 18th-Century French cuisine was bland because most Frenchmen survived principally on bread. Simply put, you're not dealing with architectural style.

Quote:
Anyway, what is the definition of beauty? People on here go on and on about the old architecture being more beautiful than modern, but is it? Are those medieval buildings of Siena really beautiful? I dont think they are, in fact if we are being honest Id say they look quite brutal. I have no photos of Siena, so heres the next best thing, Pitigliano, also in Tuscany -
If you want, we can look at photos of Siena already posted in this thread...which clearly show subtle but important forms of decoration on regular buildings. You mention the lack of lavish decoration on the exterior of riads in comparison to their interiors (because anyone can see that such buildings do have subtle exterior ornament), but that's easily explained by the fact that you're not going to spend precious funds (again, productive capacity of society here) on what could be so easily damaged or stolen off without any means of replacement. Blaming that on this or that style is entirely beside the point.

And yet, the urban fabric you posted above is quite head-and-shoulders above Pruitt Igoe, for instance.

Lastly, what's the definition of beauty? Well, if you have to ask, then you ain't got it. At least that's what they say
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Old October 4th, 2011, 12:39 PM   #316
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First of all, most people hate modernism. And just to clear things up the modernism I was talking about is the 30- year- old stuff. All the best buildings of the last 100 years are modernist because most of what has been built over that perisod is modernist. Answered your own question there.

I exaggerated when I said all modernist buildings were failures. I live in a country where modernism was introduced quite successfully and where most people live in modernist apartment buildings. However, the most sought after homes are the Jugend and classical building in the inner city. Not everone can afford that though, but I can assure you that most people would prefer it if the suburbs of Helsinki would have been built in Jugend style instead of the drab concrete we got instead.



They are part of histoty just like the Holocaust is. That doesn't mean I can't criticize utopians and their ideas. You are right that many politicians and intellectuals called for change in the early 20th century, but there was no more need for it then than there is now. The idea of change and modernisation back then was perverse and unhuman. The reason so many Europeans welcomed the great war was that they had been brainwashed for years to think that the war would have a clansing effect ridding the world of powerty, slums and the "old world" in general. It is a fascinating case to study. Some people wanted a major disaster, a great biblical flood to clear the table so that mankind could start over. Even of it would cost millions of people their lives. The "need for change" was a type of mass hysteria and a psychological phenomenon that sent Europe to hell and back - twice.



Er...sorry what?



No I don't think that. Non- modernist buildings have mostly been abandoned after being left to rot. These modernist housing estates were abandoned because people disliked them from the start and only then started falling into decay.



You can explain all you want but the only reason people moved into these modernist creations was because they could offer a better standard of living. Had those old slums been renovated and equipped with plumbing, heating and other necessities people would have been more than happy to stay. Refurbished slums and warehouses are very desirable places to live these days.




You have a point what why do you think people see classical buildings as worth preserving while modernist buildings are being knocked down? St Paul's was very much considered a masterpiece in the 19th century, just as it is today.



Whatever. A large number of architects were inspired by him.



Maybe you should comment on this.



No I never suggested that. There are many fine modern buildings out there, however, the majority of what's being built these days is bland.
So you go from modernism is a failure to, "there are many fine modern buildings out there". Need I really say more? Yes I think I should. "the majority of what's being built these days is bland." ok so I suppose you think this is bland:


or this:




or this:



yes i am sure you much rather live here:
image hosted on flickr


than here:


or here:


or here:




Just because you see a lot of bland buildings in the suburbs of Helsinki, doesn't make modernist/modern architecture a failure. They are probably bland because there wasn't enough budget to do a nicer design. If you think its possible to produce lovely old fashioned buildings cheaply then you have no idea what you are talking about. The fact is skilled labour these days are incredibly expensive, let alone the kind of skilled hand craft that is need to do complex carpentry, intricate stone work etc. The main reason people always think old buildings look good is because they were the best of their era that survived..Over time people destroyed all the bad stuff...So you can't compare hand-picked old buildings against the worst examples from the 20th century. In any case, putting the work of one century (20th) against all other centuries is stupid.. If you want to compare you should compare century vs century, because the output in each era varied considerably in style. Furthermore the argument that there were less resources for building in previous eras is absolute bullcrap. Do you really think that St Peter's in Rome had a budget?! Do you have any idea what it would cost to procure a building like that in this day an age, and bearing in mind that in today's environment people won't spend money on a building unless they can expect a profit or direct benefit.. The fact is actually the exact opposite, the monuments of the past were often built by tyrants with total control who would blow incredible amounts of money just to glorify themselves. Take the palace of Versailles for instance. At one point Louis XIV was spending a staggering 30% of the GDP of what was at the time, by far the most powerful empire in the world in order to make improvements at Versailles. In fact he almost bankrupted France, and had to have all the silver tables melted down in order to continue their war efforts. On the other hand, at the end of 2 world wars, Britain, Netherlands and Germany for example were absolutely derelict. I suppose you have seen images of London, Rotterdam, Dresden, Berlin after WW2? Where do you suppose the money came from to rebuild? Who were the workforce, after so many men were killed. The fact that these places have been rebuilt at all, could be seen as a triumph, and yet you are complaining because you are too chic to live in "drab concrete" building. You should be grateful you have what you have, and that people in the 20th century outdid themselves to give our generation what the vast majority of Europeans in the past never had.

On the subject of the utopias again, wasn't it Finland who helped the Nazi's against the Soviet Union? No wonder you are confusing utopia with dystopia. The fact is, that you have absolutely no perspective on this issue. Scandinavian people seem to think they have accomplished their civilised society on their own! The fact is that Scandinavia benefited from centuries of hardship and progress made by countries that went through long and arduous industrial revolutions, countries like France, Britain and Germany were in such terrible situations for their working classes in the early 20th century, that it was perfectly normal and justifiable to wish a progress from children with a life expectancy in the early 30s due to overcrowding, pollution and lack of hygiene. For you to call that utopian is such an easy and stupid criticism, when thanks to this kind of progress it is now that Scandinavian countries have such a good standard of living. If it wasn't for our "utopias", you Scandinavians would still be rolling around in mud and snow eating herrings and drinking too much. Great education system? Fantastic healthcare? Where do you think all this stuff comes from - you think you invented it yourselves?!

If you think this kind of mass-scale rebuilding, rehousing of Europe would have been possible after 2 world wars, with old methods of construction, then once again, I say, you are out of your element.

Last edited by PadArch; October 4th, 2011 at 01:28 PM.
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Old October 4th, 2011, 01:16 PM   #317
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^ Fantastic examples there. Where is that plant building btw?
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Old October 4th, 2011, 01:20 PM   #318
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Old October 4th, 2011, 01:23 PM   #319
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Bricks View Post
Le Corbusier famously said "a house is a machine for living in". Functionalism is not all about losing the ornaments. It's about creating a design that is based on the function of the building in question. It was part of the modernist utopia that so horribly failed. Modernist buildings were deisgned to make life easier for the modern human being, yet they ended up being failures.

My point is that many people today defend modernism saying things like "at least it was/is functional", functional in the Le Corbusier sense of the word i.e. a place that is convinient and makes living easier. Most of these place ended up being abandoned.
I guess you are underestimating the impact of modernism in house designing. It was the first school of thought that questioned, for instance, the justification of oversized dinning rooms in relate to the house size. It upwarded the status of the kitchen as a space that didn't need to be cramped and hidden from any outsider even in middle level houses. It introduced the principle of getting rid of excessive clutter inside the house and making it functional. It was within the modernist realm that the idea of building handicap accessible buildings, and the whole idea of accessibility, was born - if you can't walk, that doesn't mean you need to be bed-ridden and get somebody's aid to go even to the bathroom.

In terms of industrial factory design and workplace, it expanded the Taylorist notion of well-lit, well-ventilated spaces to introduce the notion of neatness, enhanced ergonomic work stations etc.

It was also spoused by early marketeers that introduced, for instance, the very idea of a supermarket (a place where you handle the products) on a large scale.

So the "functionalism" aspect of modernist architecture went well beyond Corbusian high-rise social housing.
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Old October 4th, 2011, 03:36 PM   #320
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PadArch View Post
So you go from modernism is a failure to, "there are many fine modern buildings out there".
Exceptions don't disprove rules...a broken clock is right twice a day...even a blind squirrel finds a nut...

Quote:
Just because you see a lot of bland buildings in the suburbs of Helsinki, doesn't make modernist/modern architecture a failure. They are probably bland because there wasn't enough budget to do a nicer design. If you think its possible to produce lovely old fashioned buildings cheaply then you have no idea what you are talking about. The fact is skilled labour these days are incredibly expensive, let alone the kind of skilled hand craft that is need to do complex carpentry, intricate stone work etc. The main reason people always think old buildings look good is because they were the best of their era that survived..Over time people destroyed all the bad stuff...So you can't compare hand-picked old buildings against the worst examples from the 20th century. In any case, putting the work of one century (20th) against all other centuries is stupid.. If you want to compare you should compare century vs century, because the output in each era varied considerably in style. Furthermore the argument that there were less resources for building in previous eras is absolute bullcrap. Do you really think that St Peter's in Rome had a budget?! Do you have any idea what it would cost to procure a building like that in this day an age, and bearing in mind that in today's environment people won't spend money on a building unless they can expect a profit or direct benefit.. The fact is actually the exact opposite, the monuments of the past were often built by tyrants with total control who would blow incredible amounts of money just to glorify themselves. Take the palace of Versailles for instance. At one point Louis XIV was spending a staggering 30% of the GDP of what was at the time, by far the most powerful empire in the world in order to make improvements at Versailles. In fact he almost bankrupted France, and had to have all the silver tables melted down in order to continue their war efforts. On the other hand, at the end of 2 world wars, Britain, Netherlands and Germany for example were absolutely derelict. I suppose you have seen images of London, Rotterdam, Dresden, Berlin after WW2? Where do you suppose the money came from to rebuild? Who were the workforce, after so many men were killed. The fact that these places have been rebuilt at all, could be seen as a triumph, and yet you are complaining because you are too chic to live in "drab concrete" building. You should be grateful you have what you have, and that people in the 20th century outdid themselves to give our generation what the vast majority of Europeans in the past never had.
A few things here:

1.) Expensive skilled labor is absolutely no excuse for a lack of detailed design. Architects get paid to find solutions to problems, and throwing your hands up and saying "well stone masons are expensive so let's make everything a big glass box" doesn't cut it.

It is quite astonishing how quickly modernism changes its tune. One minute, it is claiming its intrinsic superiority to all other styles, how much it improves life, how it is the product of an advanced era in human history. The next, though, it is screaming that the modern age is somehow incapable of producing even the slightest bit of ornamental detail (in spite of the fact that modernism first advanced its polemic against ornament as an ideological matter and not a practical one). These are contradictory positions, and at least one of them is wrong. As it happens, both of them are.

2.) Let us not exaggerate. Britain and France and the Netherlands were part of the Marshall Plan, so it's not like they had no resources with which to rebuild. I agree that we can't ignore the dire housing situation that was left in WWII's wake, and this was probably at its worst in places like the Soviet Union. In that case, I am sympathetic to pre-fab concrete housing, simply because there were people who needed roofs over their heads and it was the fastest and cheapest way to accomplish that. So in that specific sense, I can nod my head at the concrete apartment bloc (it's always interested me how the Soviet Union is condemned for this style of architecture while no one criticizes the same exact stuff in Stockholm, Tokyo and Paris...the effects of hypocritical NATO propaganda, surely enough).

But that aside, the most egregious crimes of modernism came about when there was no actual need to demolish a cherished public building: Penn Station was never near any bombing campaigns and yet it was knocked down to be replaced by a bad joke. Euston Station, similarly, was not heavily damaged by bombing when it was destroyed to make way for an infamous piece of modernist stupidity.

In short, we need to distinguish between instances of necessary construction and instances of bad design. It's not like the Farnsworth House was built for hundreds of factory workers in Leningrad.

3.) All this talk of "progress" is rather paper-thin. The mistakes of the past are all presently being repeated in front of our eyes...and we have the economic system to thank for that. Architecture hardly enters into it.

Quote:
On the subject of the utopias again, wasn't it Finland who helped the Nazi's against the Soviet Union? No wonder you are confusing utopia with dystopia. The fact is, that you have absolutely no perspective on this issue. Scandinavian people seem to think they have accomplished their civilised society on their own! The fact is that Scandinavia benefited from centuries of hardship and progress made by countries that went through long and arduous industrial revolutions, countries like France, Britain and Germany were in such terrible situations for their working classes in the early 20th century, that it was perfectly normal and justifiable to wish a progress from children with a life expectancy in the early 30s due to overcrowding, pollution and lack of hygiene. For you to call that utopian is such an easy and stupid criticism, when thanks to this kind of progress it is now that Scandinavian countries have such a good standard of living. If it wasn't for our "utopias", you Scandinavians would still be rolling around in mud and snow eating herrings and drinking too much. Great education system? Fantastic healthcare? Where do you think all this stuff comes from - you think you invented it yourselves?!
What is your argument? That Scandinavians are just ungrateful for the glorious blessings graciously bestowed upon them by the more civilized and worthier European countries to the south? How colonial you sound, you might as well be lecturing those savage tribes of the Orient that they have enlightened Europe to thank for their running water. For the record, Scandinavians don't think they accomplished what they've accomplished by themselves, at least that's what I've found after spending a considerable amount of time in the region.

Quote:
If you think this kind of mass-scale rebuilding, rehousing of Europe would have been possible after 2 world wars, with old methods of construction, then once again, I say, you are out of your element.
New methods of construction and modernist architecture are not one in the same.
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