Posted on 2013/09/18


The Charnel-House

Parallels after Emil Kaufmann

Image: Clever visual paraphrase of Kaufmann’s Von
Ledoux bis Le Corbusier
(1933). Von Boulée bis Le
? Corbusier’s Ville Contemporaine (1922)
inscribed in Boulée’s Cénotaphe à Newton (1784)


Determining the relation of architecture to revolution clearly depends in no small measure on how these terms are defined. Before revisiting this familiar counterposition, however, it is worth noting that revolutionary politics makes up only one part of politics proper. Even if one were to grant architecture some kind of inbuilt political status, this by no means guarantees the politics it embodies are of the revolutionary variety. Architecture can for instance be politically reformist in character, as in Ernst May’s Neue Frankfurt settlement or Walter Gropius’ Törten district outside Dessau, Karl Ehn’s iconic Karl Marx-Hof block in Red Vienna, and JJP Oud’s Spangen/Kiefhoek estates in Rotterdam.[1] In the last few decades, critical regionalists such as Kenneth Frampton…

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