27 January 2011

Militant Modernism

Berlin Hansaviertel

During a recent research I came across to an incredible collection of vintage postcards depicting mostly modernist buildings in Germany, France and the Netherlands. The postcards mainly dated from the 50s, 60s and 70s show less known modernist structures in a sometimes almost romantisising manner. Advertising the new way of living, nowadays the depictions appear less unattractive for a general viewer. Taufkirchen close to Munich

Lelystad Kantoorgebouwen

The failure of many modernist housing induced a trend towards building of diseneyfied pre-industrial public housing. This trend is especially apparent in Great Britain. In Prince Charles' experimental town Poundbury designed by Leon Krier and built in the 1990s the houses follow a pastiche of various traditional anti-modernist styles. In strong opposition to these developments is Owen Hatherley's book Militant Modernism, a manifesto for a rebirth of socialist modernism. As the Guardian reviews: 'Hatherley's book is an intelligent and passionately argued attempt to "excavate utopia" from the ruins of modernism'. The book refers to built and un-built examples of the Smithons, the Park Hill estate in Sheffield, Heygate in London or the Bevin Court designed by Tecton. Apart from the the chapter of the industrial and brutalist aesthetics in Britain, Hatherley references Russian Constructivism in architecture, the Sexpol of Wilhelm reich in film and design and the alienation effects of Brecht and Hanns Eisler on record and on screen - all aruing for a Modernism of everyday life. As written on the book cover: 'This book is a defence of Modernism against its defenders (...) it attempts to reclaim a revolutionary modernism against its absorption into the heritage industry and the aesthetic of the luxury flat.'










All Images by Hansaviertel