Hilde Heynen
The MIT Press | 0262581892 | 2000 | PDF | 276 pages | 7 Mb

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Critical theories such as those of the Frankfurt School of the twenties and thirties gave rise to a complex and sophisticated critique of modernity and modernism. The history and theory of twentieth-century architecture, which developed rather independently of this rich tradition, appear naive and unbalanced in comparison. In this exploration of the relationship between modernity, dwelling, and architecture, Hilde Heynen attempts to bridge this gap between the discourse of the modern movement and cultural theories of modernity. On one hand, she discusses architecture from the perspective of critical theory, and on the other she modifies positions within critical theory by linking them with architecture. She assesses architecture as a cultural field that structures daily life and that embodies major contradictions inherent in modernity, arguing that architecture nonetheless has a certain capacity to adopt a critical stance vis-à-vis modernity.

Besides presenting a theoretical discussion of the relation between architecture, modernity, and dwelling, the book provides architectural students with an introduction to the discourse of critical theory. The subchapters on Walter Benjamin, Ernst Bloch, Theodor Adorno, and the Venice School (Tafuri, Dal Co, Cacciari) can be studied independently.


1 Architecture Facing Modernity
Concepts of Modernity 8
Dwelling Fades into the Distance. . . 14
The Dilemmas of Architecture 18

2 Constructing the Modern Movement
An Architectural Avant-Garde? 26
Sigfried Giedion: A Programmatic View of Modernity 29
Das Neue Frankfurt: The Search for a Unified Culture 43

3 Reflections in a Mirror
The Experience Rupture 72
Adolf Loos: The Broken Continuation of Tradition 75
Walter Benjamin: The Dream of a Classless Society 95
Building on a Hollow Space: Ernst Bloch's Criticism of Modern Architecture 118
The Venice School, or the Diagnosis of Negative Thought 128

4 Architecture as Critique of Modernity
Avant-Garde versus Modernism 148
New Babylon: The Antinomies of Utopia 151
No Way Out: Adorno’s Aesthetic Theory 174
Mimesis in Architecture 192

Afterword: Dwelling, Mimesis, Culture 220
Notes 226
Index 26


"[A] very helpful synthetic overview of the principal positions in critical theory's arguments over modernity."
—South Carolina Review

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