Why do we need theory?
The late 1960s
Society in crisis
The Modern Movement in crisis
Capitalism versus Marxism
Cities in crisis - cars, employment, housing,
• Impending ecological crisis
• Recognition of the rights of minorities - black,
women, religious groups, hippies, counterculture etc.
Building the Berlin Wall, 1961
Fidel Castro 1961
Vietnam War
hippies, Martin Luther King, Student and worker riots
Paris in May, Russian tanks in Prague August, antiVietnam War riots London, October
Protest and underground press, London 1968
Pop art, nostalgia and pleasure in London
The Bauhaus Exhibition and a commentary, September
Falling idols of modernism:
from Charles Jencks, Modern Movements in
Architecture, 1973
Geoffrey Copcutt,
Civic Centre, 1966
‘It’s not Cumbernauld’s fault that it happens to be in Scotland,
but at 10 p.m. the Golden Eagle, the Kestrel and the Falcon all
close, and this is it, as far as Cumbernauld Town Centre is
concerned. On the upper terrace the Abatone fish bar keeps
going until eleven. After that the centre is deserted, except for
a few drunken stragglers weaving their way down the centre of
the spine motorway. (After all, it’s the best lit route out of the
centre, and there’s scarcely a car to be seen, except for the odd
learner driver practising U-turns round the piloti). … It’s not
good enough and it needn’t have happened that way.’
‘Day Tripper: Two legs good: four wheels bad’,
Architectural Design, September 1968, p.409
. ‘People on chat shows now dare to openly criticise the
pack-ice pedestrian plazas of Cumbernauld … high rise
living is held to be conducive to madness, and today the
phrase “modern architecture has a lot to answer for” is
uttered menacingly in public bars throughout the land.’
Martin Pawley, ‘Architecture on TV or it wont always be
this easy’, Architectural Design, September 1971, pp.572-3.
The Westway, London: vision and reality 1961-1970
The collapse of
Ronan Point,
Newham, 16 May
1968 photo by Gillian
Protests against the rebuilding of Covent Garden, 1970
Robert Venturi, Complexity and Contradiction in
Architecture, 1966
Venturi: use of architectural history and its concepts e.g.
Rejection of modernism: ‘Less is a bore’
Attention to the building as a sign
origins of Post-Modernism
Diagram from Roland Barthes, Mythologies, 1957
(French edition)
From George Baird ‘La Dimension Amoureuse’ in
Architecture’ first published 1967
The unavoidable meaning of architecture, explored
through history and criticism:
‘If as Gombrich suggests, forms by themselves are
relatively empty of meaning, it follows that the forms
which we intuit will, in the unconscious mind, tend to
attract to themselves certain associations of meaning.
This could mean not only that we are not free from the
forms of the past and from the availability of these forms
as typological models but that, if we assume we are
free, we have lost control over a very active sector of
our imagination and of our power to communicate with
others. It would seem that we ought to try to establish a
value system which takes acount of the forms and
solutions of the past if we are to gain control over
concepts which will obtrude themselves into the creative
process, whether we like it or not.’
Alan Colquhoun, ‘The Type and its Transformation’ first
published 1967
Sigmund Freud and the Return of the Repressed
‘Repression: defense mechanism by which
unacceptable impulse or idea is rendered unconscious.
Mental process arising from conflicts between the
Pleasure and Reality Principles.
Impulses, memories and painful emotions arising from
such conflicts, and thrust into the unconscious, still
remain active, indirectly influencing experience and
behavior, producing neurotic symptoms and also
determining (normal) dreams.’
Richard Appignanesi Freud for Beginners
From Venturi, Scott Brown and Rauch, Learning from Las
Vegas, 1972
Aldo Rossi, The
Architecture of the City,
1968/1980, introduction to
the Portugese edition
‘I purposely limited myself to
citing architects rarely but
scholars from other disciplines
frequently, beginning with
geographers and historians. I
also purposely refrained from
placing a precise boundary
between ancient and modern
architects. It might seem strange
that someone concerned with
defining the boundaries of the
corpus of architectural studies
should make use of theses from
disciplines outside of
architecture, but in fact I have
never spoken of an absolute
autonomy of architecture.’
Lucca: Piazza del Anfiteatro
From Rossi, The Architecture
of the City
‘As opposed to the
humanist architect of the
sixteenth century, and the
functionalist architect of the
twentieth century, Rossi’s
architect would seem to be
an unheroic, autonomous
researcher – much like his
counterpart who is similarly
distanced from the the
object of his analysis and
who no longer believes in
science or progress.’ Peter
Eisenmann, Introduction to
Rossi, The Architecture of
the City
Charles Jencks, The Semantic Space of Architecture,