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architect's attention, and Delight (as seen from the designer's perspective, anyway) all too often gets the hand, while Commodity -- as in, fitness for
use -- falls to the ground, like the ill-fated Pruitt-Igoe. No wonder the public views architecture and architects as impractical, romantic idealists -- aided
of course by the fifth estate, ever eager to have something to damn (bad news being so much more interesting than good !),
As Roderick points out, Chandigarh was also an eye-opener to realize that buildings (or cities) cannot ignore climate and culture and historical references and be succesful models for the masses at the same time. This is where the theory of universality fails -- Corbu & like essentially tried to make a model that was better suited to European or even North American climate and customs and fit it anywhere on the planet, be it India or Brazil or elsewhere. In the case of Chandigarh, Corbu was also warned many times of his design decisions, to little effect.
The modern architecture movement was the pinnacle of the age of Science and Reason where everyone believed that science and buildings would cure the evils of the world, eliminate death and suffering, and balance the universe. Any problem could be cured by science and architects were now at the forefront. Architects were seen to be performing "God-like" tasks by building heavenly images and utopian villages. Projects like Pruitt-Igoe brought architects and admirers back to earth to realize the limits of science, that it couldn't cure all problems and, in fact, created its own problems. This is where city planning got its big start as an independent curriculum and stripped the architect-planner of this service. Stripping cities and countries of their culture was also seen as devastating rather that the renewal that promised by the universal solution. What we call modern architecture today isn't the same modern architecture that was practiced in the 50's and 60's.
And we should also remember that whatever architectural style that was in fashion at a particular point in time was called "modern architecture." Baroque, and Rococo, and Gothic were all at one time called modern architecture in the same way that "Chinese food" to a chinese person is just called "food." Looking back to architecture after the 60's, we can see that we've, in fact, moved through several other architectural periods beyond modern such as post-modern and brutalism. What we are right now calling modern architecture, in my opinion, doesn't really have a name yet -- we're still trying to define it. Modern architecture appears to be the default term for architecture that is being built in the present and recent present.
I'm sure as we look back 20 years from now, we'll have a better definition of today's architecture is but, as I see it, we are now mixing the best of the modern architecture movement with the organic architecture movement and adding in the technical acheivements only now possible through the use of computers. We don't foresee solving world issues with these buildings (other than, maybe, environmental?) and we have a better understanding of what city planning entails. We've accepted that the modern architecture practiced in the 50's and 60's had its failings, but that it also had many strengths. We are building on those strengths by understanding that there is not one answer to all problems. Today's architecture is far more realistic in this approach.
Perhaps this movement will someday be called "Realism?"
Thanks SDR for quizing me on this stuff -- this is gold for my exam!