Architecture Of The 20th Century Cultural Studies Essay

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Architecture refers to the one of the most ancient people's activities and this means that thousands years ago the basis of the development of this wonderful art was founded. When coming to the city, we can see palaces, town halls, private cottages, built in different architectural styles. And exactly due to this style we define the epoch of building, social and economical level of the country, customs, traditions of the country and habits of this or that nation, its culture, history, national and spiritual heredity, even tempers and characters of the people living there.

Architecture, or the art of building, forms spatial environment for the life and activities of people. Separate buildings and their ensembles, squares and gardens, parks and stadiums, settlements and the whole cities - their beauty can cause certain feelings and emotions. This makes the architecture the art - the art of creating buildings and structures according to the laws of beauty. And, as any kind of art, architecture is closely connected with the life of the society, its history, views and ideology. The best buildings and constructions in the architectural way soon become the symbols of countries and cities. The whole world knows about the ancient Acropolis in Athens, the Great Wall in China, St. Pater's Cathedral in Rome, and Eiffel Tower in Paris.

The art of architecture is the social art. Even today it coincides with the history and is included to the culture of the present days. In the society of mass consumption private orders and commercial directivity of the building activity the architect is often limited in his actions, but he always leaves the right to choose the language of architecture, and every time it was the difficult way, as the architecture is a great art and the exact science at the same time. That is why we remember the ancient civilizations not only because of the wars and trade, but because of the monuments of architecture they left. So, we need to pay attention to the important thing: architecture is an exact barometer of the level of the development of the civilization, its history, culture and intellectual development, because each country - Germany, France, Russia, Italy, Egypt has its own face, showing their customs and traditions. We may definitely say that the architecture is a calling card of each country or nation.

The topic of the present evaluation is the development of modernism and postmodernism in architecture. We shall try to touch upon all the important fact of these two tendencies and give the most vivid examples of the each style.

Modernism is one of the tendencies in architecture, which covers the creativity of the architects of Europe of the period from the 20s to the 70-80s of the 20th century. The word "modernismo" from Latin means "modern, up-to-date" tendency. The creation of new buildings at the beginning of the century caused a great boom, but at the end of the century only criticism is left.

The concept of modernism itself means the creation of something new, the construction of buildings, totally different from the previous ones. All this reflected not only in the outer view of the buildings, but in their fundamental essence. At this time there appeared the concept of "the prism of glass and concrete", because modernism demanded the latest achievements in the sphere of construction materials, and the total absence of designer's décor. The building materials and the unusual construction of the building were the décor itself. The philosophy of the modernism consisted of the total rejection of all historical details and the "international" character of the building. But taking into account this fact, modernistic buildings do not seem single-type; the real masterpiece of the modernism architecture is one of a kind and unique in its own way.

A great influence on the world architecture caused an outstanding French architect Charles Edouard Jeanneret-Gris (1887-19850) - one of the founders of modernism and international style. Practitioner and theorist in the sphere of architecture he tended to answer real needs of the society, taking into account opportunities, given by the modern technologies. His ideal of a building is the simplicity and distinctness of geometrical and ferroconcrete constructions, which opened new opportunities to the creation of absolutely new compositions and forms. Admired by the machine techniques, Charles understood architecture as an art and paid a great attention to the emotional influence of its images. Le Corbusier formulated five principles of modern architecture: 1) house on the posts, 2) garden on the flat roof, 3) free plan, 4) horizontally wide windows, 5) free composition of the façade. It was Le Corbusier who suggested the idea of the sky-scrapers in big city, helping to save free space and to use it more carefully. His projects break the ideas of feudalism architecture and point new scales and space organization of the city of the 20th century. Some of his greatest projects are: Palace of League of Nations, Chandigarh City, Villa Savoye, Ronchamp Chapel, Le Corbusier Centre, United Le Habitation, United Nations Headquarters.

A great role in the development of the modern architecture plays the activity of the school of Bauhaus in Germany, heading by the German architect, Gropius. One of the prince-les of this architectural school was the tendency of economical space and planning. The engineering and technical principles were in the forefront, as well as vividly expressed constructive structure of the building. The bright example of such a tendency is the building of Bauhaus, built according to the project of Gropius in Dessau. The building itself consists of the different stages of the regular form. Each of the stages performs its own purpose. Smooth concrete walls in the contrast with huge windows in the form of wide horizontal openings, the absence of the elements of décor, laconism - all this adds up to the so-called constructive style of modernism.

A lot of experiments took place in Los Angeles. In fact, if you study Los Angeles in architectural way, you will see that this city is an architectural kaleidoscope. The thing is, the state of California has always been rich and as a matter of fact it must correspond to its level of the capital of world's pop industry. The Case Study House program, launched in 1945, made the most influential contributions to the development of architecture. The aim of the program was to involve talented architects to create low-cost housing. But under the definition "low -cost housing" it was meant completely new, modern, unusual buildings, which can be built by means of low cost materials. This idea occurred John Entenza, the editor of the magazine "Art and Architecture", who wanted to build the new city, but understood that during the post war years it would not be that easy. Eventually, by the end of the program in 1966, enthusiastic architects, who participated in it (Richard Neutra, Charles and Ray Eames, Eero Saarinen, Craig Ellwood and others) completed 36 projects, which changed the view of Los Angeles completely. With the flow of time Los Angeles changed and improved, gradually becoming one of the most wonderful, fantastic and unbelievable cities of the world. Los Angeles is a city, full of masterpieces of architecture: brave architectural decisions, incredible combinations of style and the endless flight of bright ideas.

A great influence had the development of the technical progress. Some of the architects of those times worshiped technologies and in some cases it had not even tendency, but fetishism. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, a famous architect of those times, developed the style of glassed cubic buildings of 30-40 floors with nonsegmented space inside. His architecture can be characterized as the cult of glass and steel, the principle of economy, the simplicity of forms, refinement in details, the monotony and sketch in the same time. Monotony defines the style of almost all his projects (houses in Chicago, the twenty-two - floored building of the Sigrem company in New York and so on).

After the World War II the development of technologies took a very rapid growth, it became easier to erect constructions of absolutely new but simple projects. The architecture of those times completely depended on the technological progress.

In the second part of the twentieth century the spirit of the international style and modernism exhausted itself. People became fed up with the monotony and uniformity of the buildings. All this created the feeling of depression and low spirits. As the reaction to this, in the late 70s of the 20th century there appeared huge buildings in USA, which were a lot bigger than those in the style of modernism. It was difficult to tie their scales with the scale of people, it made people think that these buildings were of the space level, not the earth one. The smooth surface of the building did not have the division of the floors outside, so it just reflected the sky and this was gorgeous. Later, such kind of constructions appeared in several other cities of the country, and now they completely dictated their own standards of fashion. From this very point we can now speak about the origination of the postmodernism in architecture. Masters of this art tried to bring imagery back to the architecture, which made it not the simple erection of buildings, but a real art. The architects of postmodernism tried to add fantasy to this style, as well as invention, complicated images, associations. One more quality which distinguishes the architecture of postmodernism is the desire to tie new constructions with the historically city surroundings, and not to spoil it with the new buildings and to predict the urban context of the future buildings. Sometimes postmodernism is also called contextuality, because postmodernist architects do not try to use old forms and images, they just try to cause recollections, decoded associations, which make the art a game of difficult symbols and prototypes. The most vivid example of that is the Piazza d'Italia - an urban public plaza in New Orleans, Louisiana, built by the Charles Moore. The desire of the clients were to create the material incarnation of nostalgia - the architect executed in the form of a grotesque, creating the collage of the classical European architectural motifs, which is situated around the huge stone map of Italy. It is evident that one of the purposes of such a construction is the induction of associations with the ancient architecture.

Among the architects of European postmodernism the following must be mentioned: Aldo Rossi, who created an interesting project of the cemetery in Moden (1974); brothers Crie, Mario Botta, Hans Holien.

Mario Botta added new features to the postmodernist techniques, which later became one of the main principles of this genre. His villas in Switzerland do not need communication: they are the incarnation of loneliness, isolation.

Hans Holien, an architect from Austria, in his project of the travel agency in Vienna tried to depict illusions, feelings, and dreams of people who intend to go to the far-away countries. At the place, where the modernist architect would erect glass walls and hang them with the advertisements, Hans puts steel palm trees, among which stands the classical column. The eagles are flying above the cash desk. The architecture here seems like a theatre, and each client feels himself an actor, who plays one of the main parts in here. The master managed to create the atmosphere of something unusual, mystical, and full of the anticipations of solving some mysteries.

But the main advantage of postmodernism is that the language of architectural forms became richer, the volumes and compositions became more expressive, and the concept of beauty became understandable even in the context of structures. Architects showed respect to the historical background and fulfilled a lot of projects of restoration of historically ancient parts of the cities. And what is the most important - they brought architecture back to the sphere of art.

"Postmodernist architecture is characterized by the various ways in which it refuses this principle of univalence. The first and most obvious of these is through a return to the sense of the meaningful or referential function of architecture. In the work especially of the architects Robert Venturi and Denise Scott-Brown, there is to be found a new tolerance for architecture that is prepared to gesture beyond itself, to acknowledge its meaning, purpose or environment." (Steven Connor)

Here it would be good to say several words about Robert Venturi, an outstanding American architect, who studied architecture at Princeton University. Later he taught architecture in several universities of USA and the amount of his experience allowed him to publish his first book, which called "Complexity and Contradiction in Modern Architecture" in 1966. This very book dictated the development of the style of world's architecture for the next several decades. Venturi does not afraid to express his personal ideas, his vision of perfect buildings, his own architecture of the future. He explains his thoughts carefully and in detail in his book. "I like complexity and contradiction in modern architecture. I do not like incoherence or arbitrariness of incompetent architecture nor the precious intricacies of picturesqueness or expressionism. Instead, I speak about the complex and contradictory architecture based on the richness and ambiguity of modern experience, including that experience, which is inherent in art." (Venturi)

Venturi continued to develop his ideas and to come true his wonderful projects. He became one of the most famous among the architects of those times and was in great demand. He generously shared his ideas and he admitted that he was at the edge of creating new tendency. But it must be mentioned, that Venturi himself does not admit himself being the father of postmodernism, he absolutely refuses to be so. He says that he does not have anything in common with this tendency and he is of strong belief, that to tie the up-to-date architecture with the one of the past is ridiculous. There are a lot of opinions, and despite Venturi does not like the opportunity to become the father of postmodernism, a lot of critics and scientists continue to consider him so.

It is rather difficult to characterize his style, as well as it is difficult to characterize any work of postmodernism, because each person finds something personal for himself, creates his own images and step backs. Venturi was not afraid to express his personal likes and dislikes. " I like elements which are hybrid rather than pure; compromising, rather than clean; distorted rather than straightforward; ambiguous rather than articulated; boring as well as interesting, inconsistent and equivocal." (Venturi). As you can see, there is a great amount of words, with the help of which we may describe the tendency of postmodernism. "Complexity and Contradiction" is a wonderful manual of architecture, which describes every detail, every paragraph of this art. A little bit later, in 1972 Robert Venturi together with Denise Scott Brown and Steven Izenour, published another book: "Learning from Las Vegas". In this very book the authors dwell upon the forms of buildings of highways, its symbols and commercial iconography, which soon became the main theme of Venturi`s activity. If to be more exact, this book analyzed the symbols of the strip with the aim to understand the symbolism of architecture. On the strip, large, drawing a lot of attention symbols were the main points of investigation.

The influence of Venturi`s works would not be so big if it was not for his practice. Some of the most of his successful projects were: the Philadelphia Orchestra Hall (1987-96), the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego (1996), and Sainsbury Wing of the National Gallery in London (1991).

The main difference between the style of modernism and postmodernism is simplicity and minimalism in the first case and the diversity and décor in the second. The famous motto of modernism is "less is more", and on the top of the development of postmodernism Venturi claimed the new one: "Less is a bore". Modernists believed that forms must have functions, to be practical. They did not use complicated and expensive materials; they did not admit elements of décor and ornamentation. Postmodernism declined all the canons of simplicity and miserliness. There were no limits in materials and decoration. Venturi saw the new style of architecture as a playful, humorous and outlandish creature, everybody must admire.

So, architecture is still developing, it has no borders and now it does not have to be socially compulsory, but it has to be esthetically more important than the battle and the pretentious buildings of our modernist past.

On the wave of the architectural boom, there appeared a lot of really talented architects, who show their ideas in the most unbelievable way, creating incredible cities and town of the future. It must be mentioned, that the technical progress is still developing, and it will not be a mistake if we say that there is nothing impossible nowadays. The projects of the buildings of the future are so unique and seem to be impossible to build; they continue to appear all over the world. While mentioning the most famous and recognized masters of the present days it is evident to talk about Zaha Hadid, an Iraqi-British architect. Being a girl of 11 she decided to become an architect. After graduating from the department of mathematics in American University, she entered the architectural school of London. She was on of the best students of the school and was the only girl, who showed success and talent on such scale. She did not want to stop on teaching in the academy of architecture and continued to take part in competitions.

She won a lot of prizes and finally in 1994 she became famous after her project of the opera theatre in Cardiff won the competition. But the owner after long conflicts rejected the project, being afraid of the originality of the architectural decisions. Her first fulfilled project was Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Arts in Cincinnati. From this very moment influential people from companies from all over the world began to invite Zaha for making projects for their buildings. Soon Zaha Hadid became the first woman to win the Pritzker Architecture Prize, architecture's equivalent of the Nobel Prize.

"Hadid's forcefulness is both her curse and her blessing. A curse because strong character can make clients run for the hills. Until recently Hadid was more famous not for the buildings she had built, but for the ones she had not built - preserved only in her famously vigorous, dramatic images. In the end, though, her forcefulness is a blessing. Like architectural natural selection, it helps to weed out weak projects and weak clients, so that when architecture is finally built, it is as strong-willed as its creator. " (Design Museum + British Council)

Zaha`s architecture completely depicts her own character: diverse, unusual, unique, mystical, like from the other planets. She is a strong, courageous woman, and a lot of people will think carefully before interrupting her. Among her famous works are: BMW Central Building in Germany, Ordrupgaard annexe in Denmark, CMA CGM Tower in France, Guangzhou Opera House in China and so on and so forth. People adore her style and most of them even can not explain why. In most of the cases people do not fully understand what she meant, but they are still like addicts to her buildings. Because what she is doing has never been done before. And people, as it is already known, appreciate all the new. "Hadid's architecture denies its own solidity. Short of creating actual forms that morph and change shape - still the stuff of science fiction - Hadid creates the solid apparatus to make us perceive space as if it morphs and changes as we pass through" (Design Museum + British Council)

It is also Dubai city which is worth mentioning. It is not a secret that the country if Arab Emirates is extremely rich and they can afford the most expensive buildings in the world. Very often Dubai constructions are called Dubai wonders. Really, what one can see there he will never see anywhere else. Supertall skyscraper, which is considered the highest building n the world; Zaha Hadid`s dancing towers, intertwining with each other, seem as if they are soft; '0-14 tower', created for business days, having two layers, the space between the layers is nearly 1 meter, which helps to cool the building; 'Dubai pearl', a hotel of extraordinary design; and also 'Dubai grand pyramid', 'the 'Arabian blade', 'Dubai towers' and so on and so forth. It is evident that in several years Dubai will become the city of the future, the city of the new civilizations and generations. Dubai projects are those, which must be studied carefully and be competed with.

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