Modernism and the Spirit of the City by Iain Boyd Whyte

By Iain Boyd Whyte

Modernism and the Spirit of the City deals a brand new analyzing of the architectural modernism that emerged and flourished in Europe within the first 1/2 the 20 th century. Rejecting the trendy postmodernist arguments of the Eighties and '90s which damned modernist structure as banal and monotonous, this number of essays by means of eminent students investigates the advanced cultural, social, and non secular imperatives that lay lower than the sleek, white surfaces of recent structure.

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Driven by Giedion, the status of the monument fuelled the Anglo-American architectural debate in the later 1940s, leading to the dedication of an issue of the Architectural Review to this topic in September 1948, with contributions by Gregor Paulsson, Henry-Russell Hitchcock, William Holford, Walter Gropius, Lúcio Costa, Alfred Roth and Sigfried Giedion. 68 City core The site of post-war communal cohesion was to be the city core. This was the intellectual focus of CIAM 8, held in Hoddesdon, England, in 1951, with its programmatic call for the creation of ‘cores’ or ‘hearts’ in cities: ‘The Core is an artefact: a man-made essential element of city planning.

73 Sarah Williams Goldhagen, ‘Coda: Reconceptualizing the Modern’, in Sarah Williams Goldhagen and Réjean Legault (eds) Anxious Modernisms, Cambridge, MA, MIT Press, 2000, pp. 301–23. 74 Goldhagen, ‘Coda’, p. 321, n. 5. 31 Part I Geist The German word Geist defines a human quality that combines both rationality and spirituality. It embraces mind and intellect on the one hand, and metaphysical belief or spiritual faith, on the other. Geist points to a richness that characterised architectural modernism between the 1890s and the late 1920s, with the ‘Geist der Großstadt’ – the spirit of the city – defined variously as the implementation of the ultra-rationalist circulation plans at one extreme, to the construction of cultural beacons, symbols of redemption, and city crowns at the other.

Indeed, probably the first design for an urban core in a modernist architectural idiom was designed by students at London’s Architectural Association School in 1937, a year before Mumford proposed his quasi-religious social nucleus in The Culture of Cities and six years before the civic centre of Cidade dos Motores. 59 Rowse, a physicist and structural engineer, had become assistant-director of the AA in 1933 and later, from 1936 to spring term 1938, Principal of the school. Before moving to the AA, he had held a position at the Edinburgh College of Art, where he had come into contact with the Geddesian urban theory that became a lasting influence on his life’s work.

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