AUTONOMY-SYNTHESIS for contemporary projects – between architectural and urban- The recently initiated, broadly defined debate on urbanism planning practice and its dialectical relationship to the social

seems definitively to ignore the social relevance of the labour configuration of time and place can no longer take concrete OASE #75 of the urban planner. With the ad hoc objective of filling an form. From now on, the practice of spatial design will thus observed gap in thinking about form in urban design, this de- unapologetically disintegrate into its separate components bate has re-emphasised the autonomy of the discipline and the – planning, urbanism and architecture – which, on the basis individual artist. The fact that urbanism is drawing on an op- of a kind of closed learning and feedback loop, can each de- tion which emphasises that the social origins of the formal are velop in a unique, idiosyncratic way. This parting of ways at unknowable – and thus deliberately and voluntarily retreats as the level of spatial action systems has, however, made it obvi- far as possible from reality – has its roots not least in the for- ous that no part of current design practice is self-evident any malist approach developed by the postmoderns in the 1970s. longer; even its right to exist is no longer self-evident, accord- In 1979 Carel Weeber, one of the Dutch representatives of ing to Jürgen Habermas.3 Because of the crisis of the multi- 3 this school, pointed out that the discipline of urbanism should and interdisciplinary approach that is the inevitable result of Jürgen Habermas, ‘Het moder ne – een onvoltooid be encouraged to shed the mask of other disciplines, in or- this, and because of the more complex field of urban integra- project’, lecture delivered upon der for it to focus exclusively on designing formal structures tion in which the discipline of urbanism has traditionally op- receiving the Adorno Prize, on an urban scale. Alongside the autonomy of urbanism as a erated, this situation is, for the time being, most clearly visible translated into Dutch by Cyrille Offermans, in Raster no. 19, discipline, he advocated re-introducing urban design as an in- in the domain of urban design. 1981, 137; the opening words dependent, formal level of planning, and thereby restoring the Against this background, it seems to me that the above- of Adorno’s Ästhetische Theorie artistically motivated organisation of individual architectural mentioned restriction of personal responsibility to purely are quoted, see Theodor W. Adorno, Ästhetische Theorie projects to its rightful place. Urban design would then relate formal questions of urban design becomes somewhat prob- ( am Main, 1970), 9. not only to the problem of the borders and limits of discipli- lematic at the moment that the discipline of urbanism, as nary design practices, but also to that of opting for an indis- such, aspires to bring about spatial cohesion between the soluble link between urbanism and architecture. Because even components of the (urban) plan, which have become isolated though urban planners were no longer supposed to speculate and autonomous, and thereby to make the city ‘legible’. This is about the visual qualities of the built environment, and even because the ‘expression of unity’ in any cultural concept – or, though architects, for their part, were no longer supposed as Weeber puts it, the consensus effect of the objective, for- to dream of cities that were actually buildings, it was still mal approach to design – is doomed to fail as long as the dis- thought to be only through urbanism that architecture could cipline of urbanism has not developed a position on the social flourish, and only through architecture that urbanism could be significance of its design activities, and as long as this spatial elevated to the status of a three-dimensional reality.1 1 consistency can, accordingly, be traced solely from the (rela- On account of the fundamental malaise in which urban See Carel Weeber, ‘Formele tively) autonomous discipline. In itself, this pursuit of both objectiviteit in stedebouw en design work had become bogged down in the early 1980s, architectuur als onderdeel van the formal autonomy of urbanism and the demarcation of Weeber’s half-formed, one-sided formal approach swiftly rationele planning’, Plan no. 11, one’s own field of knowledge in relation to the other cultural gained currency (in the ) in thinking about urban- November 1979; 27-35. My im- action systems is diametrically opposed to the pursuit of the pression is that Weeber’s pref- ism, and so, to a large degree, has come to dominate the cur- erence for an urban ‘grid’ is a coherent and spatial synthesis of separate, individual archi- rent debate on urbanism. Increasingly, the contributions to reference to Habraken’s concept tectural projects.4 Given that under present conditions these 4 that debate neglect the inherent social and political message of urban ‘carriers’. But while design practices refer to nothing but themselves, one is much See also Jürgen Habermas, AN UNCOMPROMISED URBANISM TOWARDS LUUK BOELENS Habraken is referring to the ‘Moderne und Postmoderne of urban design activities, even though studies by Manfredo mass of the city itself, in which more likely to achieve just the opposite of what one hopes. Architektur’, Arch+ no. 61, Tafuri, Bolte & Meijer and others have shown that architects the architect’s role is limited to This duality between autonomy and synthesis, which in- February 1982; 54-59. and urban planners simply cannot afford the luxury of being the constructive development of forms the current debate on urbanism, is the focus of this 2 the carriers, for Weeber urban apolitical. Debate and research on the visual structures still design remains no more than a article. As a contribution to what was conceived as a formalist possible at the urban level are thus degenerating into a highly two-dimensional grid, which is debate, it attempts to locate the social nature of the ‘expres- neurotic formalism, which as such is no longer able or will- supposed to be indifferent to sion of unity’ in the history of three avant-gardes and their future patterns of use. ing to advance and articulate its own practice within other, 2 Bauausstellungen. In doing so, rather than focusing primarily non-aesthetic practices. This becomes even more painfully Manfredo Tanfuri, Ontwerp en on the political conditions and implications of urbanism, it apparent as we see separate, individual architectural projects Utopie (orig. title: Progetto e tends to complement this political aspect, since it calls into Utopia; Rome/Bari, 1973); Sun- succeeding one another faster and faster, driven by the winds schrift 117 (Nijmegen, 1978). question the inherent dialectics of the aesthetic interpreta- of fashion, and as this fixation on form, without reference to Wouter Bolte and Johan Mijer, tion of urban design and tries to present its conditions, pos- actual content, is accompanied by growing independence and Van Berlage tot Bijlmer: architek- sibilities and impossibilities, with the aim of clarifying the tuur en stedelijke politiek, Sun- fragmentation in spatial design practice(s). When urban plan- schrift 167 (Nijmegen, 1981). nature of design work in the field of urbanism. It thus seems ners retreat into an ultimate autonomy and give their own sensible to begin by returning to that practice, which made the specific field of knowledge a central role, the link – so crucial heuristic search for unity within architectural style(s) – for the

60 61 formal order within urban chaos – its central theme. This de- Werkbund’s perspective, industrially manufactured goods sign code was adopted from the nineteenth-century Arts and had a conceptual value above and beyond their immediate

Crafts Movement by the and, via the practical value. Not only was it thought to be possible and OASE #75 , eventually led to the Modern Movement. The sub- essential for the new style of art to express this value, but it sequent developments within Team 10, Forum and postmod- was in fact seen as the prior condition for all modern forms ernism showed an increasing tendency towards autonomising of design work.5 The Werkbund code cannot, therefore, be 5 artistic design practices, thus exacerbating the identity crisis characterised as a one-sided formal approach. It is much more ‘Much more important than the material is the spiritual; within the field of urbanism, despite what were probably good accurate to call it a direct aesthetic confrontation between above the goal, materials and intentions. This aesthetic falsification, which pushed ahead the ideal of individual freedom of artistic Gestaltung and the technique stands the form . . . forcefully along the same lines in the 1970s, has arrived at its general economic laws of industrial utilitarianism. All forms That is why the revival of an ar- chitectural culture is a require- logical continuation in the current debate on urbanism: dis- of design work, as defined within the Werkbund’s ideologies, ment for all the arts and an ab- regard for the practical content of form, so that the discipline were predicated on the creed that they could not be practiced solute necessity for the general of urban design now produces its own indecisions. as separate, individual projects, but could only succeed if the process of artistic renewal that we should expect to take place.’ design process was inseparably linked to the social and eco- Hermann Muthesius, ‘Wo nomic circumstances from which it emerged. ‘For art was not, stehen wir?, Vortrag gehalten THE DEUTSCHER WERKBUND (1907-1914) after all, just an aesthetic force, but also a social one, which auf der Jahresversammlung des Deutschen Werkbundes in In the early years of the twentieth century – the period of the two together were meant to lead not least to the most impor- Dresden 1911’, in: Das Jahrbuch ‘second industrial revolution’ – the need to return to formal tant force of all, the economic one’.6 des Deutschen Werkbundes questions of urban design and rethink architecture’s identity This contrasted with the ‘negative thinking’ of individuals (Jena, 1912), 19-25. 6 became the central theme of debate for the Deutsch er Werk- such as Adolf Loos, who developed his ‘compositions’ from Julius Posener, ‘Der Deut- bund, an association of artists and architects. In a survey the inherent contradictions within the capitalist social forma- schen Werkbund (1907-1914), of the first five years of the Deutscher Werkbund (Jahrbuch tion. The Deutsche Werkbund thus tried to build bridges be- Vorlesung gehalten auf das Fachbereich Architektur der 1912), Hermann Muthesius observed that while the Werk- tween art and industry, while Loos’s theories envisaged vast T.U. Berlin’, Arch+ no. 59, bund had helped to improve the quality of German industrial gulfs.7 This made the notion that was propagated of a relation- October 1981; 24; quote from production – especially in the technical and material senses ship between individual artistic endeavours and scientistic eco- Schumacher’s ‘Gründungsrede des Deutschen Werkbundes’ – this did not mean that it had achieved its goal. From the nomic practice – between artistic creation and the generation (Munich, October 1907). of norms – a political one, in the sense that it involved a new 7 alliance between productive and spiritual forces, an alternative See, for instance, Massimo Cacciari, ‘Loos-Wien’, in cultural and social use of mechanical means of production, Oikos: van Loos tot Wittgenstein which was ultimately expected to lead to social and artistic (orig. title: Oikos da Loos a ‘liberation’. But given that the political awareness of the pre- Wittgenstein, Rome, 1975), Sun- schrift 196 (Nijmegen, 1982), war Werkbund was inadequate to achieve this goal and still at 20. A review responding to a formative stage, the association could not maintain any kind this article of Cacciari’s was of conceptual unity. It splintered into separate projects, which published in O no. 7 (Geert Hovingh, ‘Loos-Wien; cultu- were either characterised by unreflective artistic utopianism urkritiek en architectuur; een (Wiederherstellung des reinen Lebens durch die Schönheit) or en- bespreking’, O: ontwerp, onder- tirely dominated by the productive promise of the capitalist so- zoek en onderwijs no. 7, spring AN UNCOMPROMISED URBANISM TOWARDS LUUK BOELENS 1984, 28-36. cial formation (Wirtschaft als Selbstzweck). The debate between Van de Velde, Muthesius and Naumann at the ‘Werkbund- Ausstellung’ in Cologne (1914) is especially revealing of this clear inner contradiction within the Werkbund’s ideologies.8 8 See, for instance, Julius Posener, ibid., 19-20; Niels L. Prak, ‘Art and Industry: notes THE BAUHAUS (1919-1927) on their relations between After the First World War, the pursuit of not only the relation- 1750-1914’, in: Avantgarde und Industrie (Delft, 1983), 8/9; ship between art and industry, but also of ‘unity among the Ludwig Hilberseimer, Berliner various languages of composition and views on art’ was the Architektur der 20er Jahren: neue central theme of the Bauhauslehren. Founded in 1919 by Walter Bauhausbücher (Mainz/Berlin, 1967), 8-9. Gropius and serving (at least initially) as a pedagogical com- plement to the Werkbund, it strove for the coordination of all creative work – for unification in art and design – in order to arrive at a progressive synthesis between and within architec- Herman Muthesius: the factory floor at the Michiels & Cie silk mill 62 63 ture and society.9 Accordingly, the Bauhaus ideology was based 9 1923 to 1927, it thereby laid the groundwork for a collectively on a dual design code, at two complementary levels: the level See , Idee und shaped, intersubjectively oriented Maschinenstil. Aufbau des Staatlichen Bauhauses

of the Gesamtkunstwerk (that of the unity of all arts in the vi- (Munich, 1923), 24. The problematic contradiction between art and industry, OASE #75 sion of an all-encompassing architectural style of the future) between design and technology, was then resolved by mediat- and the level of machine art (the connection between the artis- ing between the artistic potential of art and the processing tic and industrial production processes). Although the separate potential of mechanical means of production at a particular components of this two-part ideology had been developed stage in the design process. This stage was the traditional, earlier, the former within the Arts and Crafts Movement and artisanal development of the prototype, the standard, which the latter by the Werkbund, the Bauhaus, in bringing them to- – as both the artistic result of laboratory experiments and the gether, gave them a specific social content and meaning. foundation for mass production – made the art-industry fusion In response to the social tendency that promoted growing a logical one. The prototype, it was thought, would be the best specialisation and fragmentation of the various cultural action possible representation of what the discipline could produce systems, and in response to the contradiction still present within at a given moment; it would eliminate the incidental and in- the Werkbund between artistic dilettantism and economic de- dividual while emphasising what was formally essential and terminism, the Bauhaus postulated the fundamental unity of all inter subjective. In this respect, the tendency towards stand- artistic expression as a necessary condition for any type of mod- ardisation and prefabrication in Bauhaus thinking was not a ern design work. Walter Gropius considered social and cultural step backward, but one of the most important artistic condi- theory necessary for this purpose. He reasoned that the progres- tions – in both a cultural and economic sense – for moving sive synthesis of , collective construction, forward with social development.11 11 which involved communication both among artists and between This postulate of cultural development was a philosophi- Walter Gropius, foreword to The Synthetic Vision of Walter art and society as a whole, could only be brought about if it was cal borrowing from Hegel’s definition of progress in terms Gropius, ibid., VII. also the logical product of the intellectual, social and technical of the dialectical sequence of thesis-antithesis-synthesis. Not conditions of the ‘modern era’.10 Particularly with the arrival 10 only was the educational programme known as Bauhauslehren of Theo van Doesburg and Lazló Moholy Nagy and, later, its Gilbert Herbert, The Syn- divided into the three separate stages of Vorkurs, Fachstudium thetic Vision of Walter Gropius move to Dessau, the Bauhaus thus propagated the unity of all (Johannesburg, 1959), 11-21. and Gestaltstudium, but the Bauhaus code itself could also be artistic work by virtue of its relationship to life itself, and from characterised by an analogous series: art-technology-style. Alongside its above-mentioned views about the unity of all artistic views and compositional idioms, as well as those about the unity of the artistic and industrial production processes, the Bauhaus opted for ‘multiplicity within this unity’, for vari- ation in the size and composition of the parts, in an attempt to avoid a looming sterility and uniformity in social and cultural development. The key concepts of the Bauhaus ideology (unity, prototype and style) were thus rooted in the paradox of varia- tion (in reference to art) versus standardisation (in reference to industry), a seeming contradiction which was regarded not as a forced choice between two options, but rather as a productive AN UNCOMPROMISED URBANISM TOWARDS LUUK BOELENS ‘conflict’ that could lead to reconciliation (synthesis) and thus to a new and better architectural style. Under the protection of the intersubjectively created artistic codex and of industry, it was thought that it would be possible to safeguard the unity of the formal while also – in the other, sociocultural domain – leaving enough scope for personal, individual taste and the creative/intuitive approach. ‘The final result would thus be a successful combination of consistent standardisation and far- reaching potential for variation,’ Walter Gropius concluded.12 12 Walter Gropius, Die neue Walter Gropius, Bauhaus buildings in Dessau Architektur und das Bauhaus: Grundzüge und Entwicklung einer WEISSENHOFSIEDLUNG (1927) Konzeption (Neue Bauhausbücher) These modern formal principles, developed by the Bauhaus (Mainz/Berlin, 1965 [1935]), 12-18. Lazlo Moholy Nagy, Z III, a 1922 painting and others, formed the basis of the Werkbund exhibition Die Wohnung, which took place in the summer of 1927 in Weis-

64 65 senhof, a suburb of . The Weissenhofsiedlung, as this model housing estate came to be known, departed in the fol-

lowing three fundamental respects from the Berlin Wohnsied- OASE #75 lungen, which had been developed in the preceding years:

1 its programmatic aspect; 2 its conception of urban development; and 3 its status as the first clearly international cooperative endeavour by the Central European avant-garde.

1 In 1926, became the general director of the Weissenhofproject, for which he designed both the urban plan and the first housing block. He described the Building model, Weissenhofsiedlung, Stuttgart 1927 problem of the ‘new housing’, and thus the programme of the Weissenhofsiedlung, as follows: ‘The postulate of “rationali- sation and standardisation”, as well as the pursuit of profit- ability in housing production, are merely facets of the prob- lem, which are very important, to be sure, but can only be- come truly significant when placed in the proper perspective. Alongside or, more accurately, above and beyond them is the spatial problem, which can only be solved by means of “crea- tive force” and not by rational or organisational means.’13 13 This principle thus highlighted the pursuit of rationalisation Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, ‘Vorbemerkungen zum ersten and standardisation in architecture, but also emphasised that Sonderheft “Werkbundaus- this pursuit was only a means of getting at the modern for- stellung die Wohnung Stuttgart mal aspects of the ‘housing question’. On its own, the Weis- 1927”’, orig. published in Die Form, Heft 9/1927; senhof programme provided an open (or half-open) method, reprinted in Die Form: Stimme which gave individual architects the greatest possible artistic des Deutschen Werkbundes 1925- Aerial photo, Weissenhofsiedlung at the time of the exhibition freedom, despite the modern requirement that the building 1934 (Güthersloh, 1969); 14 132-133. In this article Mies process be unified and unequivocal. Nevertheless, the avant- van der Rohe comes close to garde participants, who had previously worked in relative the option expressed 15 years isolation, managed to jointly produce an astounding degree of earlier by Hermann Muthesius (see note 5). formal unity. Through the intermediary of the socioeconomic 14 conditions of modernity, the international avant-garde seems See Jürgen Joedicke and ultimately to have succeeded in finding a single artistic code Christian Plath, Die Weissen- hofsiedlung Stuttgart (Stuttgart, and thereby rallying around a single collective style.


2 The unity shown at the architectural level was not, how- ever, reflected in the overall plan. Although Mies van der Rohe attempted to create a free, organic and thoroughly green housing estate according to ‘modern planning principles’, and although, with the aid of his own project and the housing blocks designed by and , he aimed to make the intended organisation of the estate apparent to the eye,15 these proposals could not undo the impression that 15 the individual villas followed the contours of the Killesberg Ibid., 9-11. only in a haphazard way, and hence that, in urban planning terms, the Weissenhofsiedlung disintegrated into its archi- tectural parts. This was because Mies van der Rohe’s design initiatives were only meaningful at the level of reception,

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, building plan, Weissenhofsiedlung, 1926 and thus did not conform to the newly introduced scientific methods, which made it increasingly clear that the problem of

66 67 E 3 proach. Weissenhofsiedlung presentedexcellent prospects for thisap - of avant-gardes hadalready similartothat cometoaconclusion into anindependentandmorecomplex whole.’ andaestheticproblems,technical which shouldbemerged rections; itshouldbelinked onbiological, toresearch social, organiser, andthusorientedinmultiple di- should bethatof thearchitect-urbanist yet tosolve. .Instead,thenewrole of andtheurbanproblems thattheavant-garde had Weissenhof the sametime, revealed itclearly of theurban-designfailure style, itsarchitectural but at building andthepossibilitiesof modern thenewpotentialof demonstrated lung thusclearly the exhibition, Walter Gropius wrote, Werkbundsied- ‘The and politicalcoherence. Contemplatingtheinitialresultsof urban designinvolved notonlyformal,but alsoorganisational d’Architecture Moderne (known asC Moderne d’Architecture steptowardsthe first afollow-up attheC timeattheWeissenhofsiedlungthe first –but hadalsotaken for demonstrated –clearly style’ produced an‘international chitectural programme tourbanplanning. programme AssoonasBauhaus chitectural linking itsar- institution atapoliticallevel thatwascapable of which provided Movement theModern withanauthoritative G uropean countries, G ropius, it was felt that the international nature of the the ropius, natureof itwasfeltthattheinternational iven, however, thatboththeF Le Corbusier, LaVille Radieuse:uneréponseàMoscou,1929-1930 S xenmmeso theavant-garde from five C of ixteen members 17 working incollaboration, hadnotonly rench and the Dutch andtheDutch rench IAM; ongrès International International ongrès L a S 16 arraz, 1928), 1928), arraz,

entral entral ; theNetherlands: and Hans Scharoun andBruno Hilberseimer, HansPoelzig, Döcker,Richard Ludwig Rading, Adolf Schneck, Adolf Walter Gropius, Peter Behrens, Ludwig MiesvanderRohe, represented were: : countriesandarchitects The lung’, inibid.,32. fabrikatorischen Hausherstel- Walter Gropius, ‘Wege zur 17 16 eivdi ol rmlaeo h ai fitssocialand believed itcouldpromulgate onthe basisof thisapproach tourbanism,which CIAM promiseThe of the production from cushion tometropolis’. chain ‘sofa visualcontinuity in postulateof thisartistic of illustrations ferences, intheperiodfrom 1929to1933,areespeciallyclear C first ‘cells’.The relationships between architectural individualhousesandrooms andthe influenced thedesignof urban planninganddesign(theC thefunctional approach to style (theWeissenhofsiedlung) –of andtheinternational serialarchitecture andbytory), way of from– starting theprototype (developed intheBauhauslabora- sive regional andnationalplanning. ledtotheemergence That createdtheconditionsfororganism, which inturn comprehen- level,sis atthearchitectural culminateinamorecomplex urban and,asaprogressive synthe- architecture beyond of theborders unitycouldtherebylogne. extend Atthesametime, theidealof theWerkbund-Ausstellung hadstruck a similarschism inCo- andthusprevent schutz 14years after theimpendingschism, Heimat- thenationalsocialistsandDeutsche criticism of society,liberated itcouldtake astandagainst thereactionary analternative, asthevanguardof internationally present itself Movementideology becamepoliticalandtheModern began to (1929-1957) THE PERIODOFCRISISANDRECONSTRUCTION Walter Gropius, Dammerstocksiedlung, Karlsruhe,1928 IAM code),which conversely 69 IAM con- 18 and even level. international spatial planning’atthenational doctrineforarchitectural introduce ‘acomprehensive regarded attemptto asafirst which canbe (l’Ascoral), tural pour unerénovation architec- Assemblee deconstructions Le Corbusier established the the SecondWorld War ended, 1933). In1942,even before the functional city(Athens, estate (Brussels, 1930)and 1929), thefunctional housing level (Frankfurt amMain, for peopleatthesubsistence housing with thethemesof three CIAMconferencesdealt (1928),thefollowingLa Sarraz After theinitialmeetingin Brno (1928)andBaba (1932). Brno Czechoslovakian experiments (1930-1932)andthe Zürich (1929), theNeubühl estatein Werkbund exhibition inBreslau lines. the Examplesinclude estates organised alongsimilar othermodel for anumber of lung alsoserved asthemodel Bourgeois. Weissenhofsied- The Frank; Belgium:Victor Josef France: LeCorbusier; Austria: J.J. P. Stam; OudandMart 18

TOWARDS AN UNCOMPROMISED URBANISM LUUK BOELENS OASE #75 Theory’. Itspoliticalandideological message,Theory’. alongwithits free-market economy thatderived from Keynes’ ‘General stateinterventionism inthe adapting tothenewformsof of is, theidealdemocracy), civilsociety(that of theidealprehistory which characterised free dialecticbetween collective freedom, orderandpersonal logue’ between theindividualandcollective, tothepower- directlyto‘productive Bauhausphilosophy referred dia- of code.fied architectural Given thatthesynthesising approach naturefrom thatwhich was takingdifferent shape intheuni- anentirely consistency, andprogrammatic instrumental of of intonewmetropolitanlaboratory spaces, but asaform rather socialformsenvisaged intheartistic of as thetransformation society, modern urbandesigncouldnolongerbeviewed of polyfunctionality, multiplicity andthedisorganic character planningsubstantially. Confronted with vise itstheoriesof thatitwouldconference (1933),itbecameclear have tore- lic recognition andappeared itsapex toreach attheAthens MovementCIAM, theperiodwhen theModern achieved pub- itsapotheosis,as itreached five preciselyinthefirst years of theNewDeal.Precisely even West thesocial-democratic of its five-year plans, Hitler’s inGermany, dictatorship fascist or the1920s, whether intheSoviet Unionwith mal ideologyof 1929madeitimpossible tosustainthefor- Market of Crash capital andlabour resultingfrom theStock organisation of political message, re- wasnever international realised.The 19 it wasby itsvery natureincapable op. cit.(note10),19. Walter Gropius, of SyntheticVision The Herbert, 1935), XIV, asquotedin Total Architecture (NewY of robots.’ Walter Gropius, Scope otherwise, we willendupas merger willhave totake place; pear irreconcilable, Ibelieve a these two manifestationsap- teristic andessential.Although from thecharac- more arbitrary become able todistinguishthe cessive generations, gradually suc- cumulative experience of sions which, drawing onthe regional expres- denominator of hand, itisbasedonacommon individual action;ontheother results from anintenseand thespirit,which the diversity of the onehand,itisfounded on manifestations.contrasting On isshaped‘Democracy by two 19 ork,

Detail, submission for the ‘Hauptstadt Berlin’ design competition by Alison and Peter Smithson and Peter Sigmonde-Wonke, 1957-1958 centred notontheorising, but onactualbuilding. formed itsneo-humanisticapproach todesignwork, which work, but alsoin- inTeamonly surfaced 10’s of programme and expected urbandesignfrom togenerate thebottom up. think otherwise.’ livecan truly inwhat they concoct, althoughthey themselves age. thecontemporary Noone ety by neglecting theessenceof human life. masters, ‘They [theoldmodern soci- ed.]cheated thing valuable, namelytheexistential andabsolute valuesof ile andsociallyoutdated,becauseitseemedtooverlook some- sented intheAthensCharter, arguing thatitwasspatiallyster- urbanismpre- rigid anddoctrinaire, they criticisedtheviewof ciplines. OpposingtheCIAMapproach, which hadbecome thespatialdesigndis- torethinktheformaltaskseration of prompted masters’ thepost-SecondWorldmodern War gen- no morethanminimalattentiontoaestheticprinciples. technological andeconomicconsiderations, which allowed of onthebasis Movement found thatitcouldonlysustainitself unity, thusrapidly lostitsrelevance, ideal of andtheModern express any message, social orotherwise, for analternative fragmentationThe thatinevitably resulted,however, couldnot period. place inthepost-warreconstruction thinking architectural duringtherevival thattook ternational Movement theModern andthusdominatein- design codeof the core, thehabitat andthekasbah, tobecomethedominant thinking’, urbanismthatmadereferenceto thisarchitectural anotherway of became possible for this‘pragmatic accountof theCIAM(Dubrovnik, 1956),it of after thedisintegration planning elements’. urban,and architectural, proportionally determined of growth urbandevelopment wasthussidelinedby ‘an over- field of discipline).The within thesettlement(andarchitectural thatis,be basedonthe‘core’, thatwhich formsa community creations,individual architectural becauseurbanismwould separate, toorganise theformandcontentof be permitted hiswork, andnolongerwould any formalcodex general, of object stand between thespatialdesignerandarchitectural thefuture. Nolongerwould any abstract ‘masterplan’ sign of expertise, andhenceleadthewayling greater tothe urbande- which couldmake urbancomplexity manageable by marshal- they proposed interdisciplinarity, voluntary collaboration, unity, which they saw asanunhealthy obsession.Initsstead, theidealof necessary, even at thecostof and opinions–if as Team 10,which placednewemphasisonindividualideas young known men’formedarelatively loose-knitgroup ‘angry ment’s wasananachronism, these technological determinism Move- thattheModern Aix-en-Provence, belief inthefirm This sameapproach,This withitsindividualisttendency, not hsiaeuc f h rhtcua hnigo the‘old thinking thearchitectural of inadequacyof This HANSAVIERT 20 Following the1953CIAMconferencein EL (1953) 2l Architecture wasgiven role Architecture thecentral 71 22 Especially op. cit.(note20),3-24. See Smithson,Team 10Primer, 1982), 50. 169(Nijmegen,Sunschrift Proeven vanarchitectuurkritiek , KritiekenOntwerp.Boekraad, BarbieriandCees Umberto (London, 1974),20. Smithson (ed.),Team 10Primer September 1959,in:Alison the Team 10meetinginOtterlo, Aldo vanEyck, address given at 22 20 21

TOWARDS AN UNCOMPROMISED URBANISM LUUK BOELENS OASE #75 they proposed problems, intriguingsolutionstoparticular but personalities. individualarchitectural True, collectionof cratic exhibition hadnothingtoshow but anuncoordinated, idiosyn- style,a single, architectural theHansaviertel international project hadatleastpresented ment. WhereastheWeissenhof Move theModern - totheearlieststage back of their clock and insteaditseemedasthoughtheavant-garde hadturned substancebehinditshaughtyexterior,there waslittlecultural thisexcessively architecture, personalised gogic pretensionsof to society. Despitethepropagandistic andpatheticallydema- and urbanism,becausetheevent overlooked thefield’s duties ance, however, itwas aadverse development for architecture els fE realism of conformistsocial asopposedtothepurportedly democratism, Western the world over totheprogressive, spiritof modern involved from 48architects 13countries tomorrow’ and thecityof freedom’andthe‘planningof of the‘architecture project tooffer ism. This –which claimed urban- theWeissenhofsiedlung for thefieldof the promise of thisinabilitydemonstrated tomake good,after30years, on –onceagain theWirtschaftswunder clearly euphoric example of tive, theHansaviertel inBerlin–amodelestateintendedas cal tourbanism. code becamecapricious andarbitrary, andtherefore antitheti- urbandesign.Alltoorapidly, theTeamfuture of practice 10 L ess thanayear aftertheC ast Berlin in the reconstruction period. ast Berlininthereconstruction IAM became permanently inac- IAM becamepermanently 23 – was meant to win –wasmeanttowin 24 O n bal- Wonen TA/BK 6/71984,41-53. hoofdstad vandeD.D.R.’, stad: Dewederopbouw vande Berlin, ‘Berlijn,veranderende Tilman’s on Harm article See, for instance, Van denBroek andBakema. Gropius, OscarNiemeyer and AlvarAalto,Including Walter 24 23

Overview of the building model for the Hansaviertel, 1956-1957 artistic exception,artistic legitimated inideological terms.’ Western societybecame, atbest,an prototypebe acultural of together intoacoherenturbanwhole. ‘Whatwasintendedto spaceswere notenoughtotietheirwork the district’s green stead ascribing an intrinsic value to architectural concepts.stead ascribinganintrinsic valuetoarchitectural form,in- that they thefunctional couldtranscend meaningof and signs, between theformandreceptacle, they believed on thecommunicative relationshipbetween individualimages formitself. solely disposal: thearchitectural By concentrating was theonlyobjectiveclaimed subjectmatter atarchitecture’s relating exclusivelycal discourse’ towhat thepostmoderns ment withsocialandfunctional conditions, but ona‘theoreti- ‘formal language’. focus The wasnolongerondirectengage- wasa architecture (andpostmodern) posited thatmodern to design,ideaswhich seemedoverblown tothem,andinstead approaches andpoliticalideasassociated withtraditional tural an increasingtendencytodistancethemselves from thecul- (social orotherwise)toarchitecture, showed thepostmoderns humanist approach todesign,which attributed amessage economic reality. toboth thefunctional Incontrast andthe everyday ideological, politicaland went beyond thedomainof dependent, autonomousknowledge complex, which therefore manipulationasaformal,in- categorised thespatialobjectof thelinguisticmethodindesignprocess firmly duction of theirdesignactivities, theintro- tion tothesocialcontext of connec- of Forum were tomaintainsomedegree stilltrying andurbanistdisciplines.architectural WhileTeam 10and the thelast20years of –hascharacterised design practices individual and, consequently, theincreasingspecialisationof In highlysimplifiedterms, independence– thisgrowing formsandsymbols. novelty andanever-changing variety of constant which couldmake of itshighestprioritythepursuit with, onceagain anything seemedpossible indesignwork, tionalism. C difficultyaftertherigidstraitjacket of with great architecture, modern accomplished featsof thegreatest of action systems, wasseennotmerelyasabanality, but asone cultural labour andfragmentation of divisionof the growing Movement, theModern but alsoexacerbated of programme that,intheprocess, fact The they notonlyscrapped thesocial approaches, respectively, by retreatingintoalastingautonomy. significancethrough their cultural thesemanticandprocedural prospect, andurbanismtriedtoregain architecture alarming metropolis. themodern that characterised Inresponsetothis tothecontradictions, tional surrender imbalancesandchaos could nolongertake astandagainst theimpendinguncondi- to have beenutterlydefeated,andtheavant-garde assuch unity, thedialecticapproach andsociety, toart of appeared ON URBANISM POSTMODERNISM ANDTHECURRENTDEBAT N ow that ‘practical content’ had been dispensed hadbeendispensed ow content’ that‘practical 73 IAM’s func- 25 The ideal ideal The E 26

tural Design53,1/21983,14. exhibitions’,tectural Architec- archi- of Berlintradition ‘The Vittorio Lampugnani, (New York, 1982). Peter Eisenman,HouseX See, for instance, 25 26

TOWARDS AN UNCOMPROMISED URBANISM LUUK BOELENS OASE #75 This obsessive quest for the ontology of architecture was, of modern building, but by disregarding the specific character by its nature, drawn to the internal organisation and aesthetic of the knowledge involved, it also accelerates the process by

proportions of the architectural object, to a closed and purely which the practice of spatial planning and design disintegrates OASE #75 self-referential formal system which no longer had any serious into its separate components, each of which can only define a connection to reality whatsoever. In this process, the means value orientation in relation to one knowledge complex. While of design and techniques of production also became aesthetic architects have gotten away with this exclusivity so far (be- objects in their own right, and thus no longer amenable to any cause it is the built object itself, rather than the theorising, that functional or organisational interpretation. legitimates social acceptance, the postmodernists tell us), be- This definitive sequestration of postmodern architectural cause the discipline of urban design is directly linked to a more thinking into autonomous spheres, cut off from the real world, complex field with a sui generis unity, the tendency towards thus became more painful for two reasons: first, the impend- specialisation and autonomy has played a fundamental role in ing impoverishment of the avant-garde significance of tradi- the recently generally acknowledged debacle in urban design tional modernism and, second, the increasing specialisation work. The attempts now being made to preserve a degree of and fragmentation of aesthetic thinking at the level of cultural ‘unity’ in modern architecture, to preserve the integration of systems. With the return of a practice espousing l’art pour individual components, are problematic by definition within 27 l’art and the accompanying undialectical application of, and See Habermas, ‘Het moderne the framework of formalist thinking. In this context, Jürgen reference to, the history of architectural design practices, the – een onvoltooid project’, Habermas makes an interesting point in his Adorno lecture. postmoderns adopted ‘the present of the past’ as their princi- op. cit. (note 3), 126. It was this Habermas, too, sees a direct link between the increasing seg- position that led Habermas to pal theme, thereby betraying both their neo-conservatism and investigate the nature of the mentation of cultural spheres of value – the growing differen- their unequivocal antimodernism.27 The architect’s position, consciousness of the moderns. tiation of science, morality and art – and the autonomisation the realisation of the past in the solidified present, is no longer Arie Graafland, too, tried to use of sectors adapted to specialised tasks, which have branched this as the starting point for a the central issue; instead, a new type of formal historicism is theoretical understanding of the off from a path that has continued in everyday practice as if emphasised, one which detaches the aesthetic effect of the his- postmodern conception of ar- its rightness were self-evident. In this process of ever-greater torical plan from its original context and introduces this fact as chitecture, see Arie Graafland, autonomisation of individual practices with respect to those of ‘Kritiek & Ontwerp; ontwerp- new material in current design practice. Cutting across periods onderwijs’, 0 no. 5, summer the broad public, the aesthetic aspect, instead of being a means in this way may seem to restore the architectural continuity 1983, 19-32. to an end, can become an end in itself. As a result, architecture may from now on have its own internal history, which shuts out social and other extrinsic criteria that could conceivably bring about communicative rationality and interaction between specialisms. This is because in the autonomous and specialised handling of specific problems, one only ever draws one’s own intellectual positions and the knowledge belonging to one’s own field, without recourse to other action systems or to social practice. Therefore, for Habermas, artistic deviation from eve- ryday practice is not only the problem at the root of the frag- mentation of the range of cultural action systems, but also, as such, forms the basis for the doomed attempts to do away, at AN UNCOMPROMISED URBANISM TOWARDS LUUK BOELENS this late stage, with the cultures of these groups of experts.28 28 It is precisely because the current debate on urbanism Habermas, ibid., 133/1. seems to have associated itself with the formalistic design approach of the postmoderns, thus demanding its own auton- omy, that the discipline of urban design – viewed against this epistemological background – is farther removed than ever from its proclaimed objective of bridging the gap between the planning process and architecture. While in the 1920s and ’30s urban design could take a socially engaged form, drawing on the intersubjectively created codex and mediating between art and industry, and as soon as it became political could, likewise, indicate the programmatic and spatial conditions re- Peter Eisenman, House I, 1968 Peter Eisenman, House X, 1976 quired for national and regional measures, the return to pure elitist formalism seems to have ruled out any such communi- cative practice by definition. Because the current debate on

74 75 urbanism dispenses with the practical content, social integra- Fraenkel-ufer have already been completed – it appears more tion and formal interaction that should characterise the artisti- likely that the avant-garde aspirations of the IBA – which has

cally successful and socially responsible practice of urban de- also been called the Internationale Bluff Aktion – will result OASE #75 sign, it will, in all probability, also fail to mediate between the in the fetishisation of the formally incidental than that it will architectural fragments within the scope of a single code, let gradually set in motion a process that can turn the city back alone safeguard an aesthetic conception of urban design. The into an integrated whole. Because it focuses directly on the discipline as such is now producing its own aporias and can no ‘great masters’ whose stars are currently rising,30 and thus 30 longer hold any position with authority. often relies almost exclusively on the one-sided, half-formed Including John Hejduk, Aldo Rossi, Rob Krier, formal approach to design, the IBA escapade stands almost no Peter Eisenman, Oriol Bohigas chance of contributing meaningfully to Berlin’s urban reorgan- and Oswald Mathias Ungers. DIE INTERNATIONALE BAUAUSSTELLUNG isation. In my opinion, this impotence of the practice of urban BERLIN (1987) design says a great deal about not only this particular interna- The Internationale Bauausstellung (IBA) in Berlin, the end tional exhibition, but the entire Western approach to design. date of which has already been shifted to 1987, does not seem Instead, this article has suggested the following conclusion to present good prospects. Despite the central programme about the problem of urbanism: As long as the disciplines of 29 of this building exhibition, which emphatically faces up to See, for instance, Collin Rowe, architecture and urbanism do not formulate positions on the social the problem that individual architectural works and the city ‘Comments on the I.B.A. pro- message of their design activities, as long as they refuse to take need to be brought into a positive, constructive relationship posals’, Architectural Design 53, up the practical content inherent in form, the avant-garde signifi- 1/2 1983, 121-127. See also with one another, and despite the fact that the IBA – un- Maarten Kloos, ‘Berlijn, stad cance of the modern will progressively diminish and – by following like the above-mentioned Bauausstellungen – is deliberately van brede allees en straten die fashionable trends and developing specialised working methods and voluntarily confronting existing urban structures, in this van niets naar niets leiden’, – inevitably disintegrate into its incidental fragments. Against De Volkskrant, 12 October 1984; Berichtsjahr it seems reasonable to conclude that the IBA will 13/19. Furthermore, the special this backdrop, the future prospects for urban designers are achieve no more than the expansion of a few excellent works issue of Arch+ gives a clear anything but rosy. In contrast, however, a socially engaged of architecture.29 Given its exorbitant solutions and the differ- overview of the types of reser- approach – which takes architecture and urbanism to be two vations one might have about ences between individual projects – a few fragments, such as the IBA, Arch+, no. 66, ‘I.B.A. – distinct but inseparable parts of a single spatial practice – still Krier’s project in Ritterstrasse and Baller’s residences on the Halbzeit’, December 1982. generates polemic. The right approach does not locate the link between form and content in a linear dimension, in which one follows logically from the other (‘form follows function’ or ‘function follows form’), but rather in a dialectical relationship which shows that the fields of operation of form and content are inseparable – joined by an elastic cord, as it were. Once the content of spatial design relates not only to technical de- sign issues, but also to social content, the form can absorb the historical and social postulates so essential to modern-day projects and make them inherent to itself. The more produc- tive approach thus provides direct mediation between design and criticism, between artistic creation and the formulation AN UNCOMPROMISED URBANISM TOWARDS LUUK BOELENS of norms, and thereby operates in both the domain of the aesthetic and expressive, and that of moral and practical knowledge complexes. To arrive at a two-part design produc- tion process of this kind, however, it seems we must return to square one – that is, if we ever really moved beyond it.

Translated by David McKay

Rob Krier, housing block in Ritterstrasse, Inke and Heinrich Baller, construction against a firewall of a tenement block 1980-1982

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