On Contemporary Architecture

What remains in contemporary architecture of the \”avant garde\” modern architecture principles?Until very recently, it was widely accepted that contemporary architecture arose directly from the roots of the early XX century \”avant garde\” modern architecture. It was understood that current architecture came as a result of an elaboration and exacerbation of XX century \”avant garde\” principles. And yet I believe that today, with the exception of certain points of coincidence, many inspirations of the XX century \”avant garde\” no longer influence the work of today. This lecture course will examine this change and will explore the reasons behind these new and different conditions. First we will establish certain foundation principles of the \”avant garde\” and the circumstances which provoked them. For the purposes of the course, we will focus on specific references that will allow us to establish clear counterpoints and oppositions. I will use the work of Le Corbusier, both texts and designs, in order to establish those beginnings in order to better define the contrasts explicit in today\'s attitudes. Other architects and sources will be also be cited where necessary but I believe the work of Le Corbusier offers a synthesis of the avant garde ideology and therefore provides a particularly pertinent reference. In as much as we will use a single figure to establish the tenets of modernism, we will consider a broad range of architects in order to understand today\'s tendencies. These architects will include Koolhaas, Herzog & de Meuron, Toyo Ito, Zaha Hadid, Steve Holl, Greg Lynn, FOA, MRVD, van Berkel, Sejima, Zumthor, etc. The lecture course will be developed in four one week segments during the first week of February, March, April and May. Tuesday, Thursday from 11 to 12:30Wednesday 12-2:00 Required exam and an optional paper.February 4:The new idea of space.February 5:Materials as an alternative to language.March 2:Indifference against specificity: containers as a new iconography?March 3:Indifference towards the site: is the idea of no place synonymous with globalization?March 4:The loss of the objecthood and the death of the organicism: architecture as landscape.April 6:New means of representation (and production): its impact on buildings.April 7:The inevitable versus the arbitrary.April 8:Realism versus utopia: has today\'s architecture lost the ethical content?May 4:Is the figurative world present in today\'s architecture?May 5:The immanence of the past: how architecture isn\'t always what architects what it to be.May 6:The role of the critics: an exam of the new criticism vis a vis the modernist critics.