Tag Archives: modernism

New Books: Stefan Sebök

Dubowitz, Lilly. In Search of a Forgotten Architect: Stefan Sebök 1901-1941. With essays by Èva Forgács and Richard Anderson. London: Architectural Association, 2012.

While looking through book catalogs on recent architecture publications, I discovered this work on Stefan Sebök. Though the architect was unknown to me, I recalled that a couple of our patrons in the spring semester had interests in Hungarian architecture and El Lissitzky, respectively. His connections to László Moholy-Nagy, Walter Gropius, the Bauhaus, and Moscow further suggested that this work would be a welcome addition to our collections.

DubowitzLilly Dubowitz traces her journey through family memory (she is Sebök’s niece) and archives in Europe, Moscow, and the US, encountering both silences and truths. She was aided by archivists, scholars, and relatives of Sebök’s colleagues and peers. She writes of one aspect of her research, “Levente [Nagy] suggested that I should contact his cousin, Erwin Nagy, who had unearthed all the KGB files on his father’s trial and execution, which not only told him about the false charges, but also gave him information on his family about which he was completely unaware (as part of their interrogation prisoners had to give a detailed account of their whole family history). It was through this lead, and a visit to the KGB archives, that I was later able to discover not only Sebök’s eventual fate and details of his work in the Soviet Union but also many other aspects of his life.” (pg. 43) While not everyone may not be interested in the architecture of the Modernists, the book offers a narrative on discovery through archival research. The work is also heavily illustrated with the materials Dubowitz discovered – drawings, photographs, letters, and government documents.

New Books at APL: Modernism

Donald, Alastair and Gwen Webber, eds. A Clockwork Jerusalem: The British Pavilion, 14th International Exhibition, La Biennale de Venezia 2014 curated by FAT Architecture and Crimson Architectural Historians. London: The Vinyl Factory, 2014.

If you are a consistent reader of New Books at APL, you might ClockworkJerusalemrememer that I am strangely attracted to publications coming out of the Venice  Biennial, but then how could you not be curious about a title like A Clockwork Jerusalem? It is both the title for the British Pavilion and its associated publication. Unlike the previous publications highlighted in the blog, this work does not focus on the architecture of the pavilion itself. Wouter Vanstiphout explains in an interview, “We chose not make a show that would consist entirely of architecture but to focus on ideas that shaped British architecture…and the imagination that more or less fed into British Modernism.”

Three essays- “A Clockwork Jerusalem” by Sam Jacob, “Experiments in Freedom” by Wouter Vanstiphout, and “Four Transformations of British Modernism” by Owen Haterley- proceed “A Clockwork Jerusalem Illustrated.” This latter half of the work explores the themes and ideas associated with British Modernism through both architecture and culture- Utopia of Ruins, Historic Futurism, Paleo Motorik, Electric Pastoral, Concrete Picturesque, History’s Return, and The People: Where will They Go?

Sam Jacob concludes in his essay:

A Clockwork Jerusalem argues for architecture and planning as part of a national project, part of a wider culture spanning politics and pop culture, summoning new visions of how we might live. The landscape of Britain is the ground on which we must continue to construct our national narrative. Through architecture as a joined-up part of political, economic and social ambition, we too can build our own Jerusalem in England’s green and pleasant land. (Jacob, 14)

British Council. British Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2014: A Clockwork Jerusalem. Accessed September 30, 2015. http://design.britishcouncil.org/venice-biennale/venice-biennale-2014/.

Bueb, Charles. Ronchamp: Le Corbusier. [Bruxelles]: Facteur humain, 2015.

BuebRonchampAfter a brief introduction to Charles Bueb, a photographic essay follows of photographs taken of Ronchamp by Bueb between 1953-1963. The black and white photographs are quite stunning of the chapel. Additionally, Bueb documented the construction of, visitors to, and interesting perspectives and scales of Notre Dame du Haut. The work also contains three essays by Claude Parent, David Liaudet, and Jean-François Mathey, respectively.


New Books at the Architecture and Planning Library

De Bruyn, Joeri, Maarten Van Acker, Filip Buyse, Frédéric Rasier, and Peter Vanden Abeele, editors. In Via Veritas: Route as a Paradigm for Urbanism. Mechelen: Public Space, 2014.

KIC ImageAccording to the authors:

The word ‘route’ is a contraction of the Latin phrase via rupta. Via means ‘road’, while rupta comes from the verb rumpere, ‘to break open’. A route is a road that is broken open, opened, cleared, freed, forced, or paved. A route is the result of an act of violence- rupture. The route carves its way into the landscape. The route breaks open the world. (pg. 11)

The authors identify three archetypes of routes: procession, distribution, and migration. They create further classifications in each archetype. Procession contains pilgrimage, parade, course, stroll, and patrol; distribution- trade route, rounds, scavenger route, smuggling route; and migration- emigration, trek, commute, journey, flight, deportation. They define each classification and then examine these types in relation to the N16 in Flanders. Finally, the authors explore case studies for each of the archetypes.

Alonso, Pedro and Hugo Palmarola, editors. Monolith Controversies.  Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz, 2014.

KIC Image 1Monolith Controversies is the title of the Chilean exhibition for the 14th Venice Architecture Biennale as well as the name of the corresponding publication. The Chilean exhibit was curated by Pedro Alonso and Hugo Palmarola.

According to Germán Guerrero Pavez, Ambassador, Director of Cultural Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Chile:

Chile is represented by Monolith Controversies, a project by Pedro Alonso and Hugo Palmarola based on an original panel produced by the KPD factory, of Soviet origin, which used to operate in the city of Quilpué. The panel contains a unique, symbolic and historical value, as President Salvador Allende signed the wet concrete when inaugurating the plant in 1972. The fate of this panel, and the way it was re-signified during the subsequent dictatorship, as well as its current status as a ruin of modernity, is telling of the history of prefabricated housing in Chile and in the world, which is narrated from within such a basic support for construction: a neutral panel, whose reading the curators leave open to the public. (introductory material)

The book contains a series of essays and photo essays connected to the exhibit and the history of the KPD & panel.

Fin-de-Siècle Architecture: Modernismo

Fin-de-Siècle Architecture = Seikimatsu Kenchiku by Riichi Miyake with photos by Tahara Keiichi is a beautiful oversize six volume set documenting architectural and ornamental styles from the end of the nineteenth century and beginning decades of the twentieth century. Each volume contains fantastic large color photographs of exteriors and interiors plus architectural sketches and renderings, elevations, details, and city plans.  Volume 2 Modernismo and Architectural Millennium documents buildings from the Catalan Modernismo movement in Barcelona which was synchronous to several design movements in other countries (Art Nouveau, Liberty, and Modern style in England and France, Jugendstyl in Germany, Sezessionstyl in Austria, Floreale and Liberty in Italy, and Modernisme in Spain) that were influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement and Gothic revivalism, with the additional influence of the Moorish design prevalent in Spain. These design influences combined with Catalan nationalists’ desire to create a distinct national identity from Spain, bourgeois patronage with ample money and construction industry resources, and available land within the city of Barcelona produced one of the most vibrant and distinctive styles of architecture in history. The architects’ use of curved lines, vegetal and organic motifs, asymmetry, and dynamic shapes embellished with a fantastic combination of decorative ironwork, glazed tile, stone, exposed brick, colored glass, sgrafitto, wood, and marble created a rich mosaic of shifting shapes, textures, and colors unlike any other built environment in the world. You may not be familiar with the term “Modernismo”, but you know the style when you see it.

Three of the most important architects of the Modernismo style are Lluis Domènech i Montaner, whose work incorporates many Moorish elements (Casa dels Tres Dragons, Hospital de Santa Creu i de Sant Pau, Palau de la Música Catalana), Joseph Puig i Cadafalch, whose buildings are heavily influenced by medieval style (els Quatre Gats, Casa Marti, Casa Terrades), and Antoni Gaudi, whose works incorporate fantastic organic forms inspired by nature (Casa Batlló, Casa Milà, La Sagrada Familia). Also of note are Joseph Maria Jujol, who collaborated with Gaudi on several of his most famous buildings, and Enrique Nieto, whose work as the city architect of Melilla, a Spanish enclave in North America, created the only large concentration of Modernismo style structures outside of Spain.

The six volumes of Fin-de-Siècle Architecture = Seikimatsu Kenchiku (V.1 Art Nouveau and Japonisme, V.2 Modernismo and Architectural Millennium, V.3 Stile Liberty and Orientalism, V.4 The Influence of Secessions, V.5 Arts and Crafts and the Garden City, and V.6 The Rise of National Romanticism) are available for use in the Architecture and Planning Library. Volume 2 contains images of the Palau de la Mùsica Catalan, which inspired the Charles Moore columns at the entrance to the Architecture and Planning Library.

French Architecture and its Relation to Modern Practice

Blomfield, Reginald. French Architecture and its Relation to Modern Practice. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1927.

Nostalgia defines this the third title in our French architecture series from the pen of Sir Reginal Blomfield. An English gentlemen, architect and scholar, Blomfield extends his considerable experience beyond the bounds of academic contribution and into the realm of criticism to celebrate purity and order in architectural design. His romanticized yearnings locate a peak in French Architectural achievement, one that slowly erodes “in the shallows and quicksands of Viollet le Duc’s medieval travesties.” This 21-page manifesto includes other such vitriolic gems extolling, by nation, the undesirable idiosyncrasies of modernist experimentation happening throughout the continent. At times, Blomfield betrays a chauvinism born not out of a natural proclivity toward racial superiority but rather emerging out of his own quintessential Englishness, a celebration of the exquisiteness of his own citizenship. And in his nationalist reverence for the past and even pastness, he recalls the Scholar Gypsy, who witnesses “this strange disease of modern life” as it “Still nurs[es] the unconquerable hope, Still clutch[es] the inviolable shade.”

Library of Congress call number: NA 1041 B5