The Architecture of Fantasy: Utopian Building and Planning in Modern Times

The Architecture of Fantasy: Utopian Building and Planning in Modern Times

The Architecture of Fantasy: Utopian Building and Planning in Modern Times

The Architecture of Fantasy: Utopian Building and Planning in Modern Times

Excerpt

The architecture of our century that has actually been built, that everybody sees, and that is ordinarily commented upon in magazines and books, appears from cursory study to be relatively uniform in character. Of course, when we try to evaluate the architectural achievements of the present moment, many questions arise. Yet we can, historically, isolate and explain certain individual trends. If we are to believe the well-known survey books of modern architecture, there were processes of change in the advanced eclecticism of the nineteenth century, which gave rise to the nascent modern architecture and the formulation of doctrinaire principles and ideals. We are told that it was a logical step-by-step development, and that the many separate trends led to a common goal: the architecture of the mid-twentieth century. But this historical approach functions in reverse, as it were, interpreting the recent past from the vantage point of the present. Such accounts try to prove that today's architecture is the only possible outcome of a logical evolution of earlier tendencies. Their aim is not so much to provide historical explanation as to be an apologia for the architecture of the moment. Thus contemporary building is accepted as the architecture of the twentieth century.

Doubts about the validity of such an approach motivated the present book which is, actually, a collection of what had to be discarded in order to arrive at an orderly definition of present architecture in terms of certain theories. In these theories the idea of an economy of means and methods predominated. If one ventured to construct a really complete picture of the architecture of this century, it would have to include phenomena which do not correspond to the betterknown, universally recognized trends and which for that reason have usually been ignored. They have been considered superfluous, passing fads, and frequently have been pronounced pathological. To preserve the orderly classification, impulses of architectural fantasy were branded as freaks. At best, they were called individualistic or different --because they did not "fit." However, if one takes the trouble to examine carefully and together all those apparently eccentric and isolated phenomena, interrelationships emerge that make it impossible to dismiss them with such superficial epithets. Important and logical tendencies and trends begin to appear, and occasionally one . . .

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