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Old September 11th, 2011 #4
Alex Linder
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Alex Linder
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Citizens protested, and conservation societies fought throughout Europe for the old idea of what a city should look like, but the modernists won the battle of ideas. They took over the architecture schools and set out to ensure that the classical discipline of architecture would never again be learned, since it would never again be taught. The vandalization of the curriculum was successful: European architecture schools no longer taught students the grammar of the classical Orders; they no longer taught how to understand moldings, or how to draw existing monuments, urban streets, the human figure, or such vital aesthetic phenomena as the fall of light on a Corinthian capital or the shadow of a campanile on a sloping roof; they no longer taught appreciation for facades, cornices, doorways, or anything else that one could glean from a study of Serlio or Palladio. The purpose of the new curriculum was to produce ideologically driven engineers, whose representational skills went no further than ground plans and isometric drawings, and who could undertake the gargantuan “projects” of the socialist state: shoveling people into housing estates, laying out industrial areas and business parks, driving highways through ancient city centers, and generally reminding the middle classes that Big Brother was supervising them.

But a later generation rebelled against the totalitarian mind-set of the modernists, rejecting socialist planning, and with it the collectivist approach to urban renewal. They associated the alienating architecture of the postwar period with the statist politics of socialism, and for good reasons.

It symbolized the approach to human life of people who believed that they alone had the answers and that they alone could dictate those answers to the rest of us. The mood of rebellion against this attitude was especially evident in Britain, where postwar planners had brought the work of the Luftwaffe near to completion in many cities. Architects like Quinlan Terry, Liam O’Connor, Demetri Porphyrios, and John Simpson, who grew up amid the advancing chaos, burst the chains forged by their obligatory modernist education and began designing buildings and urban projects in a classical style. At the same time, working in comparative obscurity as an assistant to the eclectic James Stirling was a graduate of the University of Stuttgart’s modernist school of architecture: Léon Krier, born in Luxembourg in 1946, who was beginning to publish the laconic monographs and satirical drawings that were later to form the basis of an antimodernist manifesto.

http://www.city-journal.org/2008/18_...eon_krier.html