The Long and Mixed History of Architectural Style
This article was originally published on Common Edge.
In the late 1960s, famed managing editor Ben Bradlee Washington post From 1965 to 1991, he was faced with making the newspaper more attractive to younger readers. ditched Life style as the name of a new, updated episode that he finds annoying; chose instead style. As she explains in her memoirs: “I like the word ‘style’ … I love people with style, talent and signature qualities.” 50 years later as styleand the episode was renamed nine years after Bradlee’s death lifestyles. Despite the editorial change, Bradlee used “style” as many non-architects think, and very fittingly in the framing of Duo Dickinson in a recent Common Edge article: “Wrestling Architectural Style in a Post-Style World.” Yet in architectural matters, at least historically, it has long been something else entirely.
Teaching students and working with architects over the past four decades have found the term difficult to understand for both groups; The chronology of historical styles (la Sir Banister Fletcher) remains another obscure topic for many. However, the third decade of the third millennium seems to have a lot in common with the 19th century, and each contains a “shame of wealth” when it comes to style.
6 Schools That Have Defined Their Own Architectural Styles
The 19th century had a range of august styles, from neoclassicism as we later knew it in the interwar period of the 20th century to nascent modernism. As the first generation of newly immigrating European modernists set up beaches in major American cities and major architectural schools, the term “style” became not only outdated but problematic. The fact that new (modern) architecture will not only be the hallmark of the 20th century, but also exist outside the concept of style, is at the center of the myth of modernity, prompting Ludwig Mies van der Rohe to yearn for an “age without age”.
Still, as Dickenson points out, contemporary practices have no shortage of options for how the finished product will look, depending on the budget. It can also be an additive manufacturing or traditional site-made product. However, the plethora of stylistic options seems to contradict the basic notion that we exist in a “post-style world,” unless it is assumed that being in a “world of style” requires the entire world to be built in the same way. If that were the case, Dickenson’s world—he seems to refer largely to Europe and America—probably was “post-style”, as Bernini fled Paris and Claude Perrault contemplated winning the commission to design the eastern façade of the Louvre.
To settle the style issue, Dickinson meets with two other architects, each of whom is working earnestly in academia to create what was once called “ground-based” architecture. Clay Chapman of Oklahoma said, “Why don’t people sit still anymore? Why are families breaking up x distances?” If architecture, as Chapman later suggested, is the monumentalization of cultural values, it is reasonable to ask how this is possible when one’s cultural web is in constant flux.
America has long been synonymous with the American Dream, and basically the latter is about moving upward. How can one be motionless and upward mobile? Does the American Dream fundamentally conflict with rootedness?
When it comes to the issue of style in the context of American culture, Chapman touches on an important issue: America has long been synonymous with the American Dream, and basically the American Dream is about moving upward. How can one be motionless and upward mobile? Does the American Dream fundamentally conflict with rootedness? History certainly shows this. Moreover, the higher it goes on an economic scale from where it started, the farther it tends to travel geographically, at least until the pandemic rewrites the rules.
Perhaps this is why Americans have long treated their homes as investments, selling them when the market permits, and investing in a larger, more luxurious property to raise equity/social scale. This is just one aspect of living in one place over time and the American Dream contradictory. While there are countless articles published about “tiny houses”, residence (always for ectomorphic DINKs) and recently New York Times article (about how Americans want smaller homes with fewer courtyards and smaller, better-equipped kitchens), both require a lot of filtering.
The philosopher Ivan Illich was one of the greatest social and political filters of the last century. In 1984, he gave a keynote address at the annual meeting of the Royal Institute of British Architects, during which he declared that (similar to Chapman’s complaint) one cannot truly live where one has not remained for generations; that we live by making signs in our homes (not our homes) and leaving traces for future generations to understand, leaving family signs. For Illich, living in an investment was little more than living in a garage with an adjoining house, a phrase he might have coined. This was actually an apartment for Illich, not a residence. There is no housing, the question of style seems controversial.
For this and many other reasons, I have found it more productive in my work to avoid the term “style” altogether and prefer the Italian language. format, or “attitude”. Style refers to the productive task of the architect (the way of doing as much as the thing is done) with the finished product.
Making architecture specific to a place and time is only possible when there is space. inside time, on time requires shared values together with common public spaces. This is consistent with Dickinson’s argument, but it’s also where the style thing derails, as the term is architecturally and historically so tied to the image and its mutations over time.
Dickinson explains that “his work is not based on ‘style’. … Our values are revealed when we build something. Mine are human, not aesthetic.” Curiously, this was also the Greek choir. New Brutalism. The Smithsons and Reynar Banham claimed that their work was about humanism and ethics, not aesthetics. Whether it is possible for a building to be ethical is a matter best left to philosophers; However, there is no doubt that the New Brutalists were as interested in aesthetics as their predecessors. It was just a different kind of aesthetic. However, the question of style should not be confused with aesthetics, which is always something human. Ultimately, style may be the MacGuffin of what is at the core of making any claim to architecture today.
In 1828, the young architect Heinrich Hübsch published the polemic when confronted with many of the problems with which Dickinson and other serious thinkers were concerned. in what Should We Style? Although not the most gifted designer of his time, Hübsch offered an intriguing solution. At a time when the only possible solution was to choose a style from the past, Hübsch argued that rather than choosing an architecture from an already perfected period, Romanesque was the best choice as it was the only period left unfinished. Hübsch (who was also in favor of the round arch of the period) argued that this gave architects the opportunity to invent more freely and to complete an unfinished project, a morality central to 20th-century modernity.
In short, because Romanesque was rendered so crudely compared to other periods, architects were able to focus more on how it was designed—its structure, materials, methods of construction, and cultural context—rather than on style, which led to more architecture. open-ended answers. In retrospect, it seems inevitable that Romanesque would later become a favorite historical period of the Neo Brutalists.
The term “style” may remain permanently in the architect’s lexicon long after its expiration date. Whether it’s the straw man or the MacGuffin, the question of style seems to distract from more important issues, such as architecture at the service of the residence and whether architecture as much of the world has been understood for the past 3,000 years has survived. Or are we just left with the afterimage of what Ben Bradlee calls his “talent,” his “signature qualities”?