docomomo Journal Issues

Housing for All
Docomomo Journal 65 (2021/2)
Addressing a broader vision, entitled “Housing for All”, this issue is dedicated to the welfare era, when governments across the world established ambitious housing programs to provide housing for the greatest number and improve the citizens’ living conditions, as a symbol of a modern and democratic society. This bold course of action involved radical changes in the built environment, through new approaches to architectural design and experiments in the use of materials and techniques, the creation of space, and social transformation. Nowadays, understanding how to deal with this legacy presents a major challenge, in a continuously changing context, from the technical obsolescence of buildings that no longer meet today’s demanding standards, or fast-moving sociocultural, political and economic values. The aim of this docomomo Journal 65 is to outline how these vast cultural and political ambitions were materialized in various countries, and to analyze the contemporary challenges they face. More than five decades later, are these buildings and neighborhoods resilient or obsolete? In addition to the changes that postmodern society has brought in ways of living, issues such as the demand for spatial and functional transformation, and the updating of regulations on fire, seismic stability, user safety and energy efficiency, are now part of the contemporary agenda. How can these sites be kept alive while satisfying sustainability and contemporary ideas of comfort?
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Modern Houses
Docomomo Journal 64 (2021/1)
Devoted to the theme of single-family houses, given the key role they played in the ideal definition of the Modern Movement architecture, as a symbolic and functional affirmation of the utopian turning of dreams into reality, the aim of this issue is to consider the transformation of daily life, and to address the architectural challenges that arose from the joy contained in what we might call the “architecture of happiness.” As we continue to endure a pandemic that has now lasted for more than a year, docomomo wishes to declare that “till the moment, the best vaccine to prevent contagion was invented by architects: the house”. Thus, in response to the question “How should we live?”, it is intended to debate the house and the home agenda as an important topic at the core of Modern Movement architecture. Nowadays, the growing emphasis on wellbeing goes beyond the seminal ideas that modern houses were “machines à habiter” and is closer to an idealistic vision of a stimulating shell for humans, which is shaped by imagination, experimentation, efficiency, and knowledge.
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Tropical Architecture in the Modern Diaspora
Docomomo Journal 63 (2020/2)
Getting back to the point of “Tropical architecture,” architecture in the humid tropics is collaboration with nature to establish a new order in which human beings may live in harmony with their surroundings. As publications at the time concentrated on French and British colonies, to achieve a comprehensive understanding of the Modern Movement diaspora, it is essential to revisit, analyse, and document the important heritage built south of the Tropic of Cancer, where the debate took place and architectonic models were reproduced, and in many cases subjected to metamorphoses stemming from their antipodal geography. Notable for the modernity of its social, urban, and architectonic programs, and also its formally and technologically sustained research, the modern architecture of these latitudes below the tropics constitutes a distinctive heritage.
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Cure and Care
Docomomo Journal 62 (2020/1)
Investigation into healthcare facilities involves dealing with multiple spheres beyond the technological, physical and psychological. Nowadays, the growing emphasis on wellbeing goes beyond the seminal ideas that modern buildings were cleansing machines, or that modern architecture and urbanism were shaped by bacteria. Presenting some stimulating philosophically-orientated essays, this journal makes a link between the Modern Movement and what we have entitled the “Cure and Care” concept, connecting health and the environment, body and design. Considering healthcare buildings and their role in the welfare policy of societies, the discussion addresses future challenges, driven by developments in technology and medicine, envisaging a key role for healthcare facilities in ensuring a sustainable built environment.
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Education and Reuse
Docomomo Journal 61 (2019/3)
The Bauhaus had a pioneering influence on design worldwide which still endures today; through education, experimentation and materialization, a revolution took place in architecture, urbanism and design for mass production. In 1918, during the immediate post-war period, Walter Gropius (1883-1969) achieved a fusion between the Kunstgewerbeschule and the Hochschule fur Bildende Kunst in Weimar, with the creation of an interdisciplinary school of design and crafts. In April 1919, he was elected director of the school which was by then called the Staatliches Bauhaus. He also published the Bauhaus Manifesto, which remains as a pioneering moment in history, with irreversible consequences at a global scale. The Bauhaus as a school, as a method of experimentation, education, and research, embodies the idea of science applied in service of the society. At the Bauhaus, utopia was combined with pragmatism, agitation and propaganda with public service, poetry with utility, Neue Sachlichkeit with creation and freedom. Its premises continue to be relevant today with the great issues of sustainability and democracy needing to be addressed through art and technology.
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Architectures of the Sun
Docomomo Journal 60 (2019/2)
In 1937, CIAM 5 specifically linked the housing question to leisure, considering it an absolute necessity to acknowledge that the most privileged places will be chosen for the location of these leisure areas. Taking possession of these places by large masses will allow for rest and outdoor exercise, the indispensable recuperation of the forces lost in the city. As Charlotte Périand (1903–1999) asserted, the need to create machines à recréer, the goal was definitively to assure “the happiness of men”. From the first optimistic architectural swimming-pool complexes to discovering the enjoyment of beaches or of winter sports in the mountains, these “architectures of the Sun” began to link the power of landscapes with the relaxation and pleasure of the human body. Associated with healthy living and claimed for all, for the first time, the beaches, mountains, lakes and forests became identified as places for vacations.
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An Eastern Europe Vision
Docomomo Journal 59 (2018/2)
While visiting the MAO (Museum of Architecture and Design) in Ljubljana one can appreciate the architectural power of Stanko Kristl’s work. The impressive buildings of this Slovenian architect revealed through the exhibition "Humanity and Space", illuminate the beauty of the museum space with some astonishing works and show why Eastern Europe deserves to be included in the historiography of the Modern Movement, to clearly demonstrate the contribution of Iron Curtain countries to the modern avant-garde. As Matevz Celik recognizes, “through his architecture he worked to provide responses to the needs of the people — for whom it was intended. This basic premise served as a guiding principle in experiments and his search for spatial and social innovation in architecture."
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Louis I. Kahn – The Permanence
Docomomo Journal 58 (2018/1)
Louis I. Kahn fascinate us all with his passion for Mediterranean culture. Precisely at the moment when the centre of the dominant culture moved from Europe to North America, he was able to immerse himself in the Roman brick structures of the great classical buildings, interpreting the timeless forms of antiquity. When the glass curtain of the bureaucratic International Style became trivialized, he turned to the archaic sources of architecture to discover light, matter and desire, in the pyramids of Gis. or in the ruins of the Caracalla Baths. Kahn is a unique case in the history of 20th-century architecture: he introduced the question of monumentality, a matter heretical to the Modern Movement, and emphasized the value of permanence, and the tectonic character and materiality of constructive elements. He was able to read History creatively, interpreting the permanent value of the monuments for the community and rescuing their public sense of place. Posing questions such as “what do you want, brick?” or “does the inside of a column contain a promise?”, he produced an impressive body of work and a doctrine with originality, often appearing philosophical, poetic or even mystical. Moving away from dogmas, but never losing the functional and constructive sense of modulation, he broke the systematic use of fluid space and reintroduced a sense of ritual and the value of solemnity, while achieving the most suggestive syntheses between modernity and tradition, as Otávio Paz recognized, between the use of technique and memory.
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Modern Southeast Asia
Docomomo Journal 57 (2017/2)
Coming from a common goal of preserving and promoting a sustainable future, a platform has been created to discuss documentation, conservation and reuse of modern architecture based on three main concepts: regeneration, equality and openness. Regeneration by, through training and education, involving the younger generations in the process of recognition and conservation. Equality, based on the respect for difference with no imposition of ideas or methodologies. Openness by promoting exchange through thoughtful cooperation. Although ASEAN is coming to be united in terms of politics, economy and culture, the background of its member countries is varied, having experienced diverse European colonization. In an increasingly global world, these nations are facing changes in the significance of their colonial past in relation to the postcolonial present. Between identity and nationalist demand, local knowledge and universal education, modern materials and tropical climate, different architectural discourses have been produced showing that the most interesting way to approach the postcolonial issue is through the idea of exchange.
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The Heritage of Mies
Docomomo Journal 56 (2017/1)
Mies enjoyed great prominence in Europe and America. Starting in Europe, his first incursions resulted in the German Pavilion for the Barcelona International Exhibition (1929), the Tugendhat House (1930) and the Krefeld silk factory and houses. The Illinois Institute of Technology (1943-1957), the Lake Shore Drive (1951), the Farnsworth House (1951), the Seagram building (1958) and the Toronto-Dominion Centre (1969), bear witness to his work in North America. Back in Berlin, The Neue Nationalgalerie (1968) testifies to the sublime and perfect achievement of his path towards Baukunst and Zeitwille. These ideas, which one may translate, respectively, as the art of building and the will of the time, are anchored in the Mies’s belief that architecture should be metaphysically charged with creative life force. This led him to the modern achievement of developing a new kind of freedom of movement in space, following his sense of order and his very unique conception of urban space.
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