Arts2014, 3(4), 350-366; doi:10.3390/arts3040350 - published 14 October 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: In some discourses on sustainability, modernism in architecture is blamed for its technocratic beliefs that supposedly generated a lot of the social and environmental problems the world is facing today. At the same time, many architectural critics seem to be convinced that the present call for sustainability with its “green buildings”, is but another screen behind which well-known old power structures hide. In this paper, we react to these viewpoints in different ways. First we clarify the issues that are haunting current architectural discourses by unraveling the logics behind the viewpoints of the critics of the “environmental doctrine” on the one hand and the technical environmentalists on the other hand. We will offer, secondly, a new framing to these debates by relying upon the modal sphere theory of the Dutch philosopher Herman Dooyeweerd. This new framing will allow us to reconnect, thirdly, with the discourse of modernism, which, we will argue, is all too often conflated with a technocratic paradigm—a partial, incomplete and even misleading representation. In conclusion, we present a different framing of modernism, which allows understanding of it as a multilayered and multifaceted response to the challenges of modernity, a response that formulated a series of ideals that are not so far removed from the ideals formulated today by many advocates of sustainability. We are, thus, suggesting that the sustainability discourse should be conceived as a more mature and revised version of the paradigm of modernism, rather than its absolute counterpoint.
Arts2014, 3(3), 335-349; doi:10.3390/arts3030335 - published 8 September 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: From the perspective of a specialist in environmental health and as a son of an architectural and architectural photography innovator, the author of this essay reviews the ways that photographers approach architecture. It argues that the Internet and digital technology should be used to document how architecture accommodates what clients do and how they interact as well as documenting brief esthetic experiences in and around architecture.
Arts2014, 3(3), 307-334; doi:10.3390/arts3030307 - published 8 September 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Since the latter part of 19th century photography has played a central role in the development of architecture for its persuasive visual impact. But, despite this clear interaction, there is still reluctance from scholars in accepting less rigid approaches to the two disciplines. Indeed, the combination of the subjects, with the necessary rigour, can open up new and effective horizons for architectural history, with a potential influence on the perceived reality: this could gradually establish attention towards less known heritage. In the case we present here, by means of a provocative exhibition on Cambridge’s buildings after the Second World War, we have used photography to re-evaluate modern architecture. Cambridge in Concrete. Images from the RIBA British Architectural Library Photographs Collection, was held on the occasion of the University of Cambridge Department of Architecture’s Centenary (1912-2012). The cues for our task were contained in the collections of the Royal Institute of British Architects: the photographic archive is the world’s biggest holding of architectural images which, since 2012, has been renamed in honour of Robert Elwall (1953-2012), first curator of the collection. As part of the exhibition we published a limited edition catalogue; we have here revisited, combined and enlarged our original essays.
Abstract: This review of The Solar House: Pioneering Sustainable Design,by Anthony Denzer, discusses the important contributions of this book to the history of midcentury modern architecture, and considers the role of solar houses in the context of current debates over sustainability.
Abstract: While there is a long well-documented tradition of poets walking and writing about the landscape, for at least the past fifty years visual artists have been laying out walks as various kinds of artwork. More recently, with the technology of mapping morphing into electronic devices, artists have begun using these tools to develop entirely new genres.
Abstract: The Metabolist movement, with its radical and visionary urban and architectural schemes, drew the attention of an international architecture community to Japan in the 1960s and 1970s. Seen from a contemporary perspective, the movement’s foremost concern was cultural resilience as a notion of national identity. Metabolism responded to the human and environmental catastrophe that followed the atomic bombing of Japan and vulnerability to natural disasters such as earthquakes, with architecture envisioning the complete transformation of Japan as a system of political, social, and physical structures into resilient spatial and organizational patterns adaptable to change. Projecting a utopia of resilience, Metabolism employed biological metaphors and recalled technoscientific images which, together with the vernacular, evoked the notion of a genetic architecture able to be recreated again and again. A specific concern was to mediate between an urbanism of large, technical and institutional infrastructures and the freedom of the individual. My aim is to critically examine the notion of sustainable architecture by rereading Metabolist theories and products, such as terms, models, projects, and buildings. For a better understanding of the present discourse, this text searches for a possible history of sustainable architecture, a subject mostly presented ahistorically.