The Theoretical Perspectives Of Modernism Cultural Studies Essay

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The essay explains the theoretical perspectives of Modernism and an approach focused on Anti-Modernism in terms of social, historical and political context. An analytical framework has been established to explain my case study (Yonge and Finch) through one of the four lenses explored in the fall term. The lens I will be applying to my assigned intersection is Modernism and Anti-Modernism. Yonge and Finch is one of the most famous and popular intersections in Toronto. The essay will also demonstrate the architectural history including urbanism and landscape design of my intersection, which enhanced the development and growth of the area. Indeed the work might be described as one of the constituents of the history of North York, which is one of the five boroughs of Toronto.

Toronto is going through a real renaissance in terms of its architecture, particularly public buildings. Toronto has expanded rapidly over the course of time and is known as the cultural capital of Canada because of the architecture of its buildings. Toronto has gone through the biggest urban building boom in the nineteenth and twentieth century. What Toronto looks like today is not an overnight change and comprises of many stages and an effort of decades. According to Leon Whiteson, in his book The Liveable City, Toronto had a rural landscape in 1950s down to Yonge Street and Finch Avenue but by 1970s the same view showed high rise buildings, shopping malls and the Yonge-University subway track was extended from Eglinton Avenue to Finch Avenue and Yonge Street [1] . According to Gerald Graff (1975), the reason for the urbanization is Modernism which is the rejection of conservative values and traditions [2] . The introduction of new technologies of communication, forms of art, building forms and architecture is part of Modernism. According to Gardner et.al, one of the characteristic of modernism is self-consciousness [3] . This led to the development of many unique art works and structures of buildings. Many areas in Toronto were developed using the latest designs and techniques. The area I chose for my assignment two was Northtown, which is close to my intersection. I will interpret Northtown in terms of the construction of Modern and Post-Modernist architecture.

In the seventeenth century, industrial activities rose to be a major, not a minor, aspect of the urban economy. In the nineteenth century before the implementation of modernist ideas, the area which is now called Northtown, according to the Toronto Staff report used to be occupied by one to two storey units of commercial use and their parking areas. According to the report of Toronto, the area developed to be a project for a 30 storey residential and commercial buildings and an 8 storey seniors' building used for residential and commercial purposes and Casita homes used for residential purpose. Northtown is close to the east of Yonge Street, Byng Avenue on the north and Kenneth Avenue to the East and Church Avenue to the South. According to the reports of Toronto staff the site lands at 32 and 38 Byng Avenue and 31 Olive Avenue. Northtown is being developed in four neighbourhoods.

Modernism has its functional aspects with expressing values and influencing social life and social development. Northtown was an addition to a stylish and technical change to the surroundings and living. The retail and the high rise buildings with walls of glass in the balconies are a feature of modern architecture that provides it a pleasant view. The interior and the exterior of the buildings is designed appropriately for efficient use. The functional aesthetic and a masterpiece of the corporate modernism are visible in the form of these buildings. The buildings in the Northtown have porches, decks, stairs and terraces to a maximum height of 5.0 metres. The buildings have an access to features such as heating and ventilation, air conditioning, electrical, plumbing, fire protection, wind protection and elevator equipment which are all features of a modern establishment and development. The building has a modern feature of garbage and recycling collection with the help of automatic trucks that come on the day of collection. Other feature of modernism is the modern technology seen in the Northtown. The Modern technology consists of satellite dishes, cellular telephone antennae and associated equipment on the roof of the buildings and Casita homes. According to Clement Greenberg , modernism in the nineteenth century had public buildings that were expanded horizontally and private buildings were emphasized vertically to be able to accommodate more people in lesser consumption of area. But in the twentieth century, the private buildings became more horizontal and public buildings became vertically oriented. Buildings in the Northtown were made in the twentieth century and are high rise buildings.

The buildings are on the Yonge street side while the 'lower density housing' that includes Casita homes is close to the east side of the property. The site is within walking distance of the North York Centre for the performing Arts and the Civic Centre. There are retail shops, a series of landscaped parks, walkways and lot of green spaces around the development project which are all features of modern architecture. According to Christopher Crouch (2000) modern architecture came into existence because of technological and engineering developments and the availability of new building materials such as iron, steel and glass. The Casita townhouses have latest and modern technology features such as security systems, underground parking and elevators which are features though of high rise condominium development projects.

Modernist architects such as Le Corbusier, discussed in the course kit for the fall term, thought that buildings should function as mechanically like "machines for living in", similar to the cars which are machines for travelling in. According to Le Corbusier, cars have replaced the horse and so modern architecture replaced the old designs and structures of buildings. The Casitas are accessed through a manned gatehouse only by used an electronic device similar to a garage opener. Delivery people and guests can only access the development after the security staff checks with the resident using the intercom system. Modernist designers and architects believed that the use of technology makes the old traditions and ideas no longer in general use. According to Marshall Berman (1988), the change in the twentieth century was brought by the social processes including thought and the ideas of human beings for new ways of creation. Also the latest methods used to improve and reshape the environment with the use of scientific knowledge bring change.

According to the Toronto staff report 2006, there are in total 466 parking spaces to serve the residential and commercial uses of the area. All parking for the residents and for the guests is located underground. Toronto Staff report (2006) also explains that security cameras attached to the gatehouses, emergency call stations and well lit garages are also features that exhibit modernism. Also the separate elevators take people to the street and each casita home has a private entrance to the street. According to the Toronto Star (30th October 1993) there is a wide range of home designs and sizes available for purchase at Northtown. According to Christopher Crouch (2000), due to the changes in the social and political changes in the world modern architecture came into being. The availability of new materials gave new ideas to transform the area into something new using latest techniques and procedures.

According to the website, postmodern era began in the late 1970s continuing till today. Postmodernism is the rejection of modernist thought, returning to traditional and revival of interest in the history and heritage of the past. While the critics of the postmodern architecture emphasize that the existing architecture does not have to resemble historic styles. Postmodernism does use a variety of historic forms combining them into a form of building. The aim of postmodernism is to solve the problem of modernism. Casita homes are a form of postmodern architecture as they have slanting roofs. One of the features of the postmodern architecture is the traditional gable roof instead of a flat roof that is a feature of modern architecture. The roofs of postmodern architecture help to pour water away from top of the building and serve a functional purpose in climates with rain and snow. According to Marshall Berman (1982), postmodernist architecture is sensitive to the context of building but does not exclude the needs of people required from the building. Some advocates of the modernism had the willingness of making a building style for popular consumption. According to Michael Dear, modern architecture is half modern and half traditional in portraying itself to the public. Michael Dear explains that According to Jameson, old perspectives of looking at things was changed with the arrival of Anti-modernism which gave a new change and impression.

The three principles proposed by Vitruvius, that a good building should satisfy are utility, durability and beauty. The three features described by Vitruvius are satisfied by the buildings in the Northtown. The buildings and the Casita homes are beautiful yet have a planned interior; so many people want to live in them. Growth of population has become so rapid in the new condominium projects that led to the excessive enrolment in the nearby schools. Toronto District School Board (TDSB) had posted signs to tell people that no more space is available to accommodate new students.

Close to my intersection is North York Centre. It is a town centre in North York, Toronto. Before the amalgamation of Toronto in 1998, it was the central business district of the city of North York. North York Civic Centre, a modern, glass-clad structure that contains city of Toronto offices and faces onto Mel Lastman Square, a public square, on the west side of Yonge Street. The square conducts a variety of activities throughout the year. People enjoy being there because of its Modern environment and relaxing atmosphere. One of the modern features of the square is the artificial stream that runs from a fountain under a large sign at Yonge Street down into a large concrete square. There are a lot of green spaces and trees surrounding the area with benches.

The area is surrounded by many modern high rise building used for both commercial and residential purposes. It has many modern features surrounding it but one of the features is the North York Central Library, one of the branches of Toronto Reference Library. The library is a modern construction with clear glass used on the outside and some part of the inside as a roof. This characteristic of a building gives it a bright interior as the sunlight peeps into the building through the glass. This area is also close to the modern construction of subway and can easily be accessed. According to Marx, modern experience takes place in a highly developed and dynamic landscape.

According to Braddick (2000), many features of modernism and Anti-modernism are merged to form a new culture and era of ideas. New forms of capitalism, social relations, technology and engineering with the development of a scientific world-view came into existence in the early twentieth century. Due to the globalization ideas and theories of Modernism and Postmodernism overlapped. Contemporary architecture is seen to possess both the characteristics of Modern and Postmodern era. Modern and Postmodern architecture both have created their own unique charm of cultural infrastructure and impressed people and inspired architects and designers to develop more in different ways and forms.

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