From core form to art form
Paper i proceeding, 2013
In an effort to portray modern architecture not as a new architectural language, but as a product of progress, its origin is mainly traced back to three sources: modern painting, the so-called “anonymous ethos” of mass society and technological progress. Leading chroniclers of the modern movement, such as Sigfried Giedion (1888–1968), have described this technological progress as a direct continuation of 19th- century engineering. They deliberately ignore that architecture and engineering – despite the best reconciliation efforts of the Polytechnic movement – rapidly move apart in the late 19th- and early 20th- century. The innovations of the rapidly advancing technological progress, such as iron and steel constructions, concrete or reinforced concrete, are first used in engineering, i.e. building tasks of the new technological age, such as exhibition halls, train stations or bridges, or – in other words – buildings that are designed by engineers and not architects. The leading academic architects – with few exceptions – are very reluctant tu use the new technical innovations.
The aim of this paper is to illuminate architecture’s acceptance of or approach to technological progress in the late 19th- and early 20th-century — in particular the rise of structural thinking and the acceptance of engineering aesthetics that are motors for the modernization of architecture.