Special Issue "Technological Progress as a Basis for Modern Architecture"

A special issue of Arts (ISSN 2076-0752). This special issue belongs to the section "Applied Arts".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 August 2018).

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Atli Magnus Seelow

1. Associate Professor for History and Theory of Architecture, Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering, Chalmers University of Technology, Sven Hultins Gata 6, 41296 Gothenburg, Sweden
2. Lecturer, Institute for Art History, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Schloßplatz 4, 91054 Erlangen, Germany
Website | E-Mail
Interests: history and theory of 19th- and 20th-century architecture; technology in modern and contemporary architecture; construction history; architecture in the Nordic countries

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Early 20th-century modern architecture is a product of the Industrial Revolution. According to established historiography, it is not only inspired by avantgarde art, but also draws on engineering and the “anonymous ethos” of modern mass-society—it is architecture for the “machine age”.

The theme of this Special Issue is to investigate the significance of technological progress for the emergence and development of modern architecture. One key question is, how new materials (iron, glass, concrete), new concepts (standardization, modularization, mass production), constructions (curtain wall glass facades, flat roofs) and the mechanization of buildings evolve parallel to the modernization of architecture and how they change architectural thinking and the built form.

Many exemplary designs convey an aesthetic promise of progress and are designed according to functional, rational or utilitarian principles—with a new tectonic expression and a machine aesthetic with attributes such as transparent facades, a modular order and without ornaments.

We want to examine, how architects deal with technological progress: Are they are only recipients, adapting innovations to achieve a new architectural expression? Or are they active protagonists of technological progress, and the desire for a new architecture precedes or promotes the development of corresponding technological innovations? And how do their buildings in reality and on a material level live up to the aesthetic promise of progress? In this context the relationship between architect and engineer is of importance, as it is often engineers who are the protagonists of the Industrial Revolution.

The interaction between art and technology may help to trace the mechanisms of technological vs. architectural progress and to illuminate their role in modern architecture. The goal is to complement its historiography with the hitherto largely missing aspect of technology. Not least, contemporary global changes driven by technology suggest also a correspondingly aligned questioning of modern architecture’s historiography.

Dr. Atli Magnus Seelow
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Arts is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • modern architecture
  • 20th-century architecture
  • modernism
  • technology
  • construction history
  • historiography

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial
Notes on the Useful Arts—Technological Progress as a Basis for Modern Architecture
Received: 28 May 2019 / Accepted: 17 June 2019 / Published: 19 June 2019
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Abstract
It is a commonplace that Modern Architecture is a product of the Industrial Revolution, as practically all representatives of the Modern Movement refer, in some way or another, to technology and regard it as the foundation of their architecture [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Technological Progress as a Basis for Modern Architecture)

Research

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Open AccessArticle
Italian Rationalist Design: Modernity between Tradition and Innovation
Received: 7 January 2019 / Revised: 12 February 2019 / Accepted: 15 February 2019 / Published: 22 February 2019
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Abstract
This article is devoted to the Italian modern project of the 1930s, which involved architecture and design. The main theme is the influence that the autarchic economic policy of the Fascist regime had in the choice of materials and technologies, and, above all, [...] Read more.
This article is devoted to the Italian modern project of the 1930s, which involved architecture and design. The main theme is the influence that the autarchic economic policy of the Fascist regime had in the choice of materials and technologies, and, above all, the manner in which this choice led to innovative practices and figurative research. Through significant examples, the essay provides some insight into the style of Italian rationalism, whose contradictory aspects—conditioned by the regime’s policy—shaped urban planning, architecture, and design in the 1930s. I show that the Italian rationalist culture is a field of investigation that is of considerable scientific interest because it represents the idea of an integral project comprised of all the elements associated to a building, including those that are still used today. In particular, I present a case study centered on the Physics Institute of Rome’s Sapienza University (1933–1935) designed by the architect Giuseppe Pagano Pogatschnig, analyzing its materials, technologies, and architectural features, as well as its furnishings. Along these lines, the objective of this investigation is the transmission of a specific knowledge, looking at objects as essential parts of the aesthetics of Rationalism in order to protect and enhance the cultural heritage of modernity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Technological Progress as a Basis for Modern Architecture)
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Open AccessArticle
Tomás Saraceno’s Art Work “In Orbit” (2013) against the Backdrop of Space Architecture
Received: 31 October 2018 / Revised: 23 December 2018 / Accepted: 11 January 2019 / Published: 15 January 2019
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Abstract
When discussing the correlation between technological progress and the development of modern architecture, case studies from the fine arts can be instructive. This article undertakes a close architectural analysis of Tomás Saraceno’s walkable art installation “In Orbit” (2013) by releasing previously unpublished technical [...] Read more.
When discussing the correlation between technological progress and the development of modern architecture, case studies from the fine arts can be instructive. This article undertakes a close architectural analysis of Tomás Saraceno’s walkable art installation “In Orbit” (2013) by releasing previously unpublished technical specifications. A brief history of envisioned and constructed space architecture of the last hundred years—which can be divided into three phases—serves to locate the installation within the currents of predictive utopia, realized architecture and technological development. It becomes clear that Saraceno not only takes up pre-existing architectural techniques, but also develops them further. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Technological Progress as a Basis for Modern Architecture)
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Open AccessArticle
The Construction Kit and the Assembly Line—Walter Gropius’ Concepts for Rationalizing Architecture
Received: 31 October 2018 / Revised: 15 November 2018 / Accepted: 15 November 2018 / Published: 29 November 2018
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Abstract
With the breakthrough of modernism, various efforts were undertaken to rationalize architecture and building processes using industrial principles. Few architects explored these as intensively as Walter Gropius, the founder of the Bauhaus. Before World War One, and increasingly in the interwar years, Gropius [...] Read more.
With the breakthrough of modernism, various efforts were undertaken to rationalize architecture and building processes using industrial principles. Few architects explored these as intensively as Walter Gropius, the founder of the Bauhaus. Before World War One, and increasingly in the interwar years, Gropius and a number of colleagues undertook various experiments that manifested in a series of projects, essays, model houses and Siedlungen. These were aimed at conceptually different goals, i.e., they followed two different categories of industrial logic: First, a flexible construction kit and, second, an assembly line serial production. This article traces the genesis of these two concepts and analyses their characteristics using these early manifestations. Compared to existing literature, this article takes into account hitherto neglected primary sources, as well as technological and construction history aspects, allowing for a distinction based not only on theoretical, but also technological and structural characteristics. This article shows that Gropius succeeds in formulating and exploring the two principles, in theory and practice, as well as drawing conclusions by the end of the 1920s. With them, he contributed significantly to the rationalization of architecture, and his principles have been picked up and developed further by numerous architects since then. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Technological Progress as a Basis for Modern Architecture)
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Open AccessArticle
Ludwig Hilberseimer and Metropolisarchitecture: The Analogue, the Blasé Attitude, the Multitude
Received: 22 August 2018 / Revised: 21 November 2018 / Accepted: 23 November 2018 / Published: 27 November 2018
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Abstract
This article close-reads Modernist architect Ludwig Hilberseimer’s early architectural projects, which employed a language of uniform fenestration, repetition and geometrically reduced typical forms, as embodying Georg Simmel’s blasé attitude in analogical form, and places this reading in relation to Aldo Rossi’s concept of [...] Read more.
This article close-reads Modernist architect Ludwig Hilberseimer’s early architectural projects, which employed a language of uniform fenestration, repetition and geometrically reduced typical forms, as embodying Georg Simmel’s blasé attitude in analogical form, and places this reading in relation to Aldo Rossi’s concept of the analogical city and the political theorist Paolo Virno’s notion of the multitude. The first part outlines the discourse around Simmel, Hilberseimer and Rossi to note salient connections between these figures, their thought and the process of modernization. The second part discusses Simmel’s and Hilberseimer’s readings of the metropolis and interprets Hilberseimer’s formal language as embodying the blasé attitude. The third part places Hilberseimer in dialogue with Rossi and interprets Rossi’s analogical city as inhabited by another of Simmel’s figures, the stranger. The article concludes by tracing a line from Simmel’s figures of the blasé and the stranger via Hilberseimer’s metropolis architecture and Rossi’s analogical city toward the contemporary multitude, a collective linguistic subject. In doing so Hilberseimer’s and Rossi’s grammar of the metropolis can be rethought in relation to contemporary subject positions as a critical project toward an architectural theory of the multitude pushing back against the increasingly individualised city and market urbanism prevalent today. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Technological Progress as a Basis for Modern Architecture)
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Open AccessArticle
Paimio Sanatorium under Construction
Received: 30 August 2018 / Revised: 4 November 2018 / Accepted: 7 November 2018 / Published: 9 November 2018
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Abstract
Alvar Aalto created innovative architecture in his breakthrough work, Paimio Sanatorium, located in Southwestern Finland and designed between 1928 and 1933. This empirical case study looked at the iconic piece of architecture from a new angle by implementing the actor-network theory (ANT). The [...] Read more.
Alvar Aalto created innovative architecture in his breakthrough work, Paimio Sanatorium, located in Southwestern Finland and designed between 1928 and 1933. This empirical case study looked at the iconic piece of architecture from a new angle by implementing the actor-network theory (ANT). The focus was on how the architecture of the sanatorium came to be. A detailed description of the chronology and administration of the building process enabled observing on the role of the agency of the architect. The study surveyed the cooperation, collaboration, and decision making of the agency during the construction period. The first part of this paper focused on the relations and conditions of producing the sanatorium and analyzed the building through drawings and archive material; the second part linked to the actor-network theory of Bruno Latour and included a discussion on how Aalto managed to bring along the other actors. The study clearly showed the importance of a collaborative effort in a building project. The most special architectural solutions for Paimio Sanatorium, a demanding institutional building project, came into being in circumstances where the architect managed to create a viable network that merged collective competence with material factors. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Technological Progress as a Basis for Modern Architecture)
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Open AccessArticle
“Utopias Are for Those Who Cannot Build”: The Structural Philosophy of the Swedish National Board of Building
Received: 25 September 2018 / Revised: 30 October 2018 / Accepted: 1 November 2018 / Published: 2 November 2018
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Abstract
Structuralism in architecture was a widespread international phenomenon in the post-war decades. It was an avant-garde architecture, in many cases even utopian. In contrast to this, the structural philosophy of the Swedish National Board of Building was outspokenly pragmatic. This article, based on [...] Read more.
Structuralism in architecture was a widespread international phenomenon in the post-war decades. It was an avant-garde architecture, in many cases even utopian. In contrast to this, the structural philosophy of the Swedish National Board of Building was outspokenly pragmatic. This article, based on documents and interviews with the architects involved, gives the background of the National Board’s interest in “the chronological dimension of architecture”. The National Board was the largest client in Sweden for design and building and experienced managers of a large building stock. In the mid-1960s, they developed, in cooperation with consultants, a “building box” for office buildings. They gladly showed a lack of interest or downright scepticism towards international structuralism: “Utopias are for those who cannot build”. Two of the main involved practices were A4 and ELLT, later merged into Coordinator architects, and from early on focused on an architecture of change. Two of their iconic projects from the late 1960s are the large office block Garnisonen and IBM Nordic Education Center. They are examples of a “consequence architecture”, very clearly “ideas based”. For a period around 1970 the pragmatic theory led to radical projects. “Dogmatic theorising was part of the game” as it was said about contemporary art. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Technological Progress as a Basis for Modern Architecture)
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Open AccessArticle
From Reception to Invention: The Arrival of Concrete to Iceland and the Rhetoric of Guðmundur Hannesson
Received: 8 September 2018 / Revised: 15 October 2018 / Accepted: 18 October 2018 / Published: 22 October 2018
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Abstract
The quick modernisation of Iceland, which took place rapidly from the first decades of the 20th century onwards, brought not only fishing trawlers and cars into the country. Among all the techniques of modernity, steinsteypa [concrete] was to become the key material that [...] Read more.
The quick modernisation of Iceland, which took place rapidly from the first decades of the 20th century onwards, brought not only fishing trawlers and cars into the country. Among all the techniques of modernity, steinsteypa [concrete] was to become the key material that changed the built landscape of the island and was soon adopted by the first Icelandic architects, such as Rögnvaldur Ólafsson (1874–1914) and Guðjón Samúelsson (1887–1950). Interestingly, the main supporter of this material was Guðmundur Hannesson (1866–1946), a medical doctor and town planning enthusiast who wrote several articles and even a guidebook published in 1921, Steinsteypa. Leiðarvísir fyrir alþýðu og viðvaninga [Concrete: A Guidebook for Common People and Beginners]. In a country that was seeking an architectural self-representation, he understood the technical and formal possibilities that concrete could offer. By analysing his articles and publications, this essay aims to discuss the rhetoric of Guðmundur Hannesson and his role in writing an Icelandic chapter of the history of concrete, from its early stage of unmodern trial-and-error to the definition of a modern Icelandic architecture. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Technological Progress as a Basis for Modern Architecture)
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