Histories of Postwar Architecture 2021-08-12T00:00:00+02:00 HPA Editorial Team Open Journal Systems <p><strong>Histories of Postwar Architecture (HPA) – ISSN 2611-0075</strong> is a biannual open-access peer-reviewed Journal that aims to publish innovative and original papers on postwar architecture, with no geographical, methodological, historiographical or disciplinary restrictions.</p><p>HPA is a<strong> scientific journal</strong> recognized by ANVUR (Italian National Agency for Evaluation of Universities and Research Institutes) for disciplinary areas 08 and 10.</p><p> </p> Committed, Politicized, or Operative: Figures of Engagement in Criticism from 1945 to Today 2021-07-13T14:35:50+02:00 Hélène Jannière Paolo Scrivano 2021-08-12T00:00:00+02:00 Copyright (c) 2021 Hélène Jannière, Paolo Scrivano Thinking about De Stijl: Three Generations of Committed Historians in the Netherlands. 2020-10-28T09:29:18+01:00 Rixt Rixt Hoekstra <p> </p><p>This essay focusses on the changing critical identity of the Dutch modern art-and architectural historian in the decades after the Second World War ranging from the 1950s to the early 1990s. By adopting the historisation of De Stijl as a case-study I will state that its post war historiography was not only defined by new insights concerning this avant-garde movement, but equally by a change in the subject position of the historian as a critical actor. In this article the changed relationship between the subject (the historian) and the object (the past) is analysed as the exchange of an engaged attitude for a more detached position in which the past increasingly became the focus of an exclusive cognitive concern. However, this did not mean its results remained unchallenged. In fact, the epistemic turn described in this article went in hand in hand with the rise of postmodernism in the humanities, leading to relativistic claims concerning historical knowledge. Also, an already critical history was further challenged by the arguments of feminist historians. In this way, a univocal history of art was fragmented into a plurality of historical practices. Although these practices were no longer overtly politically engaged they remained politically implicated as the result of the complex correspondences between past and present that remained a part of the histories of artistic modernism. </p><p> </p> 2021-08-12T00:00:00+02:00 Copyright (c) 2021 Rixt Rixt Hoekstra Back to the Sources. Manfredo Tafuri’s Teorie e storia dell’architettura (1968) between Project and Work in Progress 2020-11-15T14:49:55+01:00 Marco Capponi <p>A rigorous study of Manfredo Tafuri (1935-1994) must inevita-bly find compensatory strategies to overcome the main difficulty posed by the object of study: that of the sources. A challenge, we might say, made even more difficult by the fact that Tafuri, with rare exceptions, never included bibliographies in his books.This contribution intends to present the first results of a philolog-ical analysis on one of the most important books in the historian’s œuvre and the debate of the time,<em> </em><em>Teorie e storia dell’architet-tura</em> (1968), closely compared with its second Italian edition (1970). This first step and the significant discovery of the letters exchanged in 1967-69 between Tafuri and the publishing house let to detect the extent to which Tafuri originally modified the book’s project and intervened in its re-editions. This leads to the conclu-sion that he refashioned himself and politicised his work retroac-tively, probably to approach the new Venetian intellectual context.Moreover, the systematic filing of 1968 book’s bibliography, together with the critical bibliographies and recordings from his mid-1960s lectures, allow to give due weight to references hitherto unknown. They help us to enter into the historiographic framework in which the main problem – the relationship with history – is to be situated, and to identify a number of knots on which Tafuri will focus in the following years.The analysis situates <em>Teorie e storia</em> in 1960s artistic and archi-tectural discourse and brings to light, in particular, the underlying conversation with Emilio Garroni’book <em>La crisi semantica delle arti</em> (1964), a source that fits precisely a generational urgency, that of architecture and its meaning, to which Tafuri will constantly return.The reading is intertwined with a parallel narration through the illustrations replaced by Tafuri for the second edition of <em>Teorie e storia</em>.</p> 2021-09-07T00:00:00+02:00 Copyright (c) 2021 Marco Capponi A Semi-Social Magazine: Love, Life, and Architectural Design 2020-10-28T18:54:00+01:00 Stephen Parnell <p>This paper analyses the magazine <em>Architectural Design </em>(<em>AD</em>) under the post-war editorship of Monica Pidgeon. Through extensive archival research, content analysis, oral histories, and interviews, I adopt a unique biographical approach to understand the people behind the magazine and their networks, and argue that Pidgeon had a very different idea of criticism to how we might today interpret it in retrospect. Pidgeon was neither an architect nor an ideologue and did not run her magazine on the basis of a campaign for how she believed the world should be reconstructed. Instead, her commitment was primarily to people – the architects whom she accepted into her network – rather than their buildings. I argue that Pidgeon’s personal and professional life became so entangled that she developed this network as a type of social ‘club’ to the extent that <em>AD</em> turned into her life and her life into <em>AD.</em> The paper is split into two halves: the first explores Pidgeon’s background in order to develop an understanding of her approach to editing an architectural magazine; the second describes the contents of the magazine and the networks of its contributors during the tenure of the first three Technical Editors, Theo Crosby, Kenneth Frampton, and Robin Middleton. In contrast to conventional understandings of architectural criticism and history, the paper emphasises the messy personal, human, back-stories as a fundamental driver of the decisions that are made about what is ‘given ink’ and, as a consequence, what is ultimately nominated to the canon of architectural history.</p> 2021-08-12T00:00:00+02:00 Copyright (c) 2021 Stephen Parnell The New Brutalism: Ethic vs. Marxism? Ideological Collisions in Post-War English Architecture 2020-11-23T13:34:54+01:00 Silvia Groaz At the end of the Second World War, an intense ideological confrontation took place in England, where the principles of reconstruction were established around the ‘low rise’ and ‘high rise’ dichotomy. The debate was influenced by a politicized generational divide, pitting the legacy of Howard’s Garden City model, supported by those who called themselves ‘Marxists’, against Le Corbusier’s Unité at Marseille, defended by a younger generation of architects who took a ‘non-Marxist’ position. The various political tendencies were translated into stylistic rules that addressed types, city configuration, and even materials, according to a rich constellation of new labels: the New Humanism derived from Soviet Social Realism, the William Morris Revival and People’s Detailing, the New Picturesque advocated as a democratic model by Nikolaus Pevsner, and the New Empiricism reworked by Eric de Maré on the Cooperative Housing Schemes of the Swedish welfare state. <br />It is in this context that the New Brutalism originated. The term disguised subversive attributes with respect to the relationship of urban and architectural models with political demands. The rigid ideological instances that configured a conventional model for the reconstruction were purged in the New Brutalism through the introduction of a category that supplanted Marxist ideology. Ethics, translated into the truth to materials and structure, as well as into the concept of ‘as found’, paved its way through an argument rooted in the architectural discourse. 2021-08-12T00:00:00+02:00 Copyright (c) 2021 Silvia Groaz Constructing a Constellation of Architecture Criticism in 1980s China: Zeng Zhaofen and a Tale of Two Journals 2020-10-28T19:35:02+01:00 Guanghui Ding <p>In 1980, Zeng Zhaofen, an academic at Tsinghua University, co-founded <em>World Architecture</em>, a journal devoted to introducing global architecture to China. While steering the journal’s operations by editing articles and organizing academic activities during his editorship (1980–1995), Zeng seldom published architecture criticism in his own periodical, but rather did so in the journal’s local rival, <em>The Architect</em>. His writings, with their strongly committed political and operative tendencies, became one of the leading voices advocating for abstract modernism in 1980s China. This paper draws on Walter Benjamin’s notion of the constellation, using Zeng’s critical activities as a vehicle to examine the conditions of possibility for journal culture and architecture criticism. It argues that <em>The </em><em>Architect</em> journal and Zeng’s published criticism maintained a shared character as a constellation through juxtaposing multiple texts, architects, projects, and ideas and presenting coherent positions within an underlying structuralized pattern—reconstructing the repressed discourse of modernism. The historical appearance of this intellectual constellation was dependent on a vibrant ecosystem of architecture criticism that reached its heyday in the 1980s, characterized by the dynamic and productive interactions between critics, editors, architects, and other stakeholders in a relaxed socio-political climate.</p> 2021-08-12T00:00:00+02:00 Copyright (c) 2021 Guanghui Ding On the (Mis)Use of Critical Discourse in Architecture: “Experimental Criticism” and its Entanglement with Postreform Art Movement in China 2020-10-28T09:18:47+01:00 Dijia Chen <p>Tracing the origins of “experimental criticism” in China’s postreform architectural production, this paper interrogates the established critical discourse centering on the experimental architects, formulated in China’s academic community during the early 2000s. Influenced by liberal art movements after the Cultural Revolution, the experimental architecture emerged as a marginal critique on political totalitarianism and cultural rigidity through installation-like, small-scale and conceptual projects. Despite its peripheral position in the state-regulated production system, experimental architecture was discovered and reframed by the European scholars as the revolutionary rebellions at the turn of the century. It ultimately became the sole protagonist of critical discourse around 2005-06 in Chinese scholarship. The hasty recontextualization of Western criticism and the absence of local architectural theoretical framework have left cultural differentiations unelaborated, resulting in a heated debate over the political implication and social commitment in experimental architecture’s criticality. Prioritizing formalistic operations over pragmatic concerns, the experimental architects were obsessed with the mobilization of Modernist architectural forms and Chinese cultural symbols. The tactful, flexible and even playful outlook of experimental architecture integrated the “Chinese wisdom” and kept in line with the goals and the approaches of the modern art movement. They stand as a problematic figure in the cross-cultural appropriation of architectural criticism to China.</p><p>In recent years, renewed attention towards the experimental architecture and its successors has drastically increased in both Western and Chinese scholarship, yet the conceptual nuances of experimental criticism that were lost, distorted and reconstructed were never fully elaborated. This paper holds experimental architects’ marginalized position in the socialist production system and their deep entanglement with postreform art movement as the fundamental contributors to the specificities of experimental criticism, and further evaluates its influence on the succeeding commentary and practice paradigms of independent Chinese architects today.</p> 2021-08-12T00:00:00+02:00 Copyright (c) 2021 Dijia Chen Aldo Rossi in the turmoil of “German identity.” The German Historical Museum competition of 1988 2020-09-11T11:26:39+02:00 Frederike Lausch Phoebus Panigyrakis <p>The competition for the German Historical Museum in Berlin was on several layers a controversial project.<strong> </strong>Already the idea of a museum on German history was fiercely debated, especially in the face of National Socialism. Aldo Rossi’s proposal that won the competition featured a pastiche of typological forms reminiscent of historical German monuments. But critics contested its monumentality and naïve use of iconography, while the jury was accused to have violated competition regulations. The fall of the Berlin Wall eventually ended the debates. This did not go without reaction: The head jury Max Bächer protested to the then-chancellor Helmut Kohl, demanding compensation for Rossi’s lost prize.</p> 2021-08-12T00:00:00+02:00 Copyright (c) 2021 Frederike Lausch, Phoebus Panigyrakis Italy, 1980s: Touring Club Italiano’s Guides and the Non-monumental Heritage 2020-10-14T17:16:19+02:00 Alessandro Benetti <p>Between 1983 and 1985, the T.C.I. (Touring Club Italiano) published the three hardcover, large size volumes of the collection <em>Città da scoprire. Guida ai centri minori</em>, literally <em>Cities to be discovered. A guide to Italy’s secondary towns</em>, directed by historian and geographer Lucio Gambi.</p><p>The guide label is misleading for such an ambitious editorial project. A notable series of long form essays by prominent scholars reconstruct the architectural and urban development of each of the more than 200 selected Italian towns. All texts are accompanied by a rich iconography, also featuring specifically commissioned aerial views, and cartography, including diagrams detailing the main phases and events of the agglomeration’s growth.</p><p>The <em>Guida ai centri minori</em> seamlessly fitted into the T.C.I.’s cultural agenda of the time, aimed at rerouting mass tourism away from its traditional destinations. As a matter of fact, the three books reached a wide, lay public, as they were delivered as Christmas gifts to hundreds of thousands of the association’s members.</p><p>They were more than a practical tool for tourists, though. The focus on the <em>centri minori</em> was the occasion to shape an innovative, comprehensive representation of a non-monumental Italy, one which could replace the outdated stereotypes of the <em>Bel Paese</em>. Moreover, thanks to its one-of-a-kind positioning between scholarly research and dissemination, the <em>Guida ai centri minori</em> acted as a powerful tool to mainstreaming this up-to-date representation.</p><p>Starting from this case study, this paper aims at outlining the 1980s T.C.I.’s cultural project for the dissemination to a larger audience of the latest advancements of the high-culture debate on Italy’s non-monumental heritage.</p> 2021-08-12T00:00:00+02:00 Copyright (c) 2021 Alessandro Benetti