rationalist architecture


Organic Rationalism in Buenos Aires

Fully immersed in greenery, a rationalist style house, designed by Rodriguez Etcheto in 1957, is now revived through contemporary creativity and historic design, by its new owner, architect Mauro Bernardini, co-founder of the Plan Architecture Studio.

In 1953 I realized that the straight line leads to the downfall of mankind. But the straight line has become an absolute tyranny. The straight line is something cowardly drawn with a rule, without thought or feeling; it is a line which does not exist in nature. And that the line is the rotten foundation of our doomed civilization. Even if there are certain places where it is recognized that this line is rapidly leading to perdition, its course continues to be plotted. The straight line is godless and immoral.

The straight line is the only uncreative line, the only line which does not suit man as the image of God. The straight line is the forbidden fruit. The straight line is the curse of our civilization. Any design undertaken with the straight line will be stillborn.

Today we are witnessing the triumph of rationalist knowhow and yet, at the same time, we find ourselves confronted with emptiness. An aesthetic void, desert of uniformity, criminal sterility, loss of creative power. Even creativity is prefabricated. We have become impotent. We are no longer able to create. That is our real illiteracy.

—  from “The Paradise Destroyed by the Straight Line,” Friedensreich Hundertwasser

Le Corbusier, Roof Terraces of the Beistegui Apartment, Paris, (1929-1931)

 The roof terraces of the Beistegui Apartment are without a doubt it’s most celebrated feature and the most clearly indebted to surrealist sources. Clean, classical but playful concrete volumes frame the Mediterranean style topiary, with walls built to such a height as to leave the nearby monuments of the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel tower poking up like comical objects. The sun deck, carpeted with grass, featured a false rococo fireplace that recalls the jarring juxtapositions in Magritte’s Time Transfixed. At the touch of a button, hedges on lift mechanisms could rise or sink to alter the view. The effect was reminiscent of Giorgio de Chirico’s metaphysical cityscapes and interiors. It is known that Le Corbusier had visited the artist’s exhibition at the Galerie Surrealiste in February, 1928.

Nearly everything about Le Corbusier’s philosophy of a rationalist, functional architecture and design would be far removed from surrealism’s attitudes, but with this project he seems to have been open to it’s strategies of unexpected contrasts and playful paradoxes, even whilst placing these within a rationalism entirely foreign to the movement’s aims.


Ludwig Wittgenstein, Wittgenstein House Doors (Transition Between Salon and Sitting Rom/Bedroom), (1926-1928)

In Wittgenstein’s Architecture transitions are just as significant as those in music or choreography. How materials, colors, surfaces, and spaces are delineated, come together, relate to each other, and merge. With the doors, Wittgenstein masters an intricate game of varying the interconception of spaces. Metal closes off, while translucence alludes to something beyond. Transparent glass is inviting.  Transitions, in their material nature are like metaphors of movement. The most unusual transition in the Wittgenstein House is the pair of double doors between salon and sitting/bedroom. By nature of their materiality they are a rare connection between open (glass) and closed (metal). When in use this  pair of double doors offers numerous variants for Margarethe Stonborough’s private living area between invitingly open and reclusively closed. When the metal leaves are closed, the salon is visually integrated into the more intimate area. A single closed metal leaf signifies something else again. An open single glass leaf is like an open approach whereas when both doors are open, salon and sitting room/bedroom merge, creating one space bound together by two identical window-doors in either space.

Palazzo Braschi, functioning as the National Fascist Party headquarters, Rome, 1934


Patrimonio Artístico Español Fernando Higueras

Fernando de Higueras Díaz (1930 – January 30, 2008) was a Spanish architect. He was one of the most famous architects in the world during the 1970s. His work is recognized worldwide as an original and interesting union of constructivist, rationalist and organic architecture. He died in Madrid, aged 77 years.

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anonymous asked:

do you think modern, rationalist architecture is overrated these days? (in comparison to traditional architecture)

In my opinion modernist architecture is already considered a classic, some of it on the same level as what you refer to as “traditional architecture”. After all, early Frank Lloyd Wright works like the Robie House are over 100 years old and the the International Style is approaching a century in age.

There will always be a part of architecture that is rational. Vitruvius (creator of the Vitruvian Man) wrote about architecture in his work from 15BC: De Architectura, that architecture was a science that can be comprehended rationally. We as architects define many aspects of our work rationally, what I mean is that many of the dimensions and functionality of the spaces we design are defined by rational thought, from the measurements of the human body to define the dimensions of a kitchen to the behavior of sound to define a configuration of a concert hall.

If what you mean is that traditional ornamentation or craftsmanship is superior to modern architecture I will ask you to consider the following:

  • The works that you consider traditional are those that survived time. So they were the best built structures for their time. All the other ones that were not built as well perished because they outlived their usefulness or were destroyed by nature or war. So you only see the creme of the crop and not all the crap of the time (just like a McDonalds is not meant to last over 10-15 years).
  • Traditional ornamentation reflected a time and place, architecture in that is like fashion. I think traditional architecture can be beautiful, but most of it is beautiful because it represents a past to which humans always attached an idealized nostalgia (we are expected to forget that people threw feces from their second story windows because they did not have indoor plumbing).
  • Modern architecture is a style we can define in time with following styles like postmodernism and deconstructivism, with ornamentation (or lack there of) appropriate to its time. It was also an idealized movement that meant to impose one style for all (so very socialist of them) and to build the foundation for a bright future for industry and cities. Since then a lot has changed and our society has become globalized in a way that the modernists could not imagined (you may be are reading this message from across the globe). 
  • Contemporary architecture in turn has reverted to considering the context as one of the most important design considerations when a building is designed (unless you are in Abu Dhabi) with culture, climate and local materials becoming a clear differentiator. 
  • Our ornamentation today is driven by technology, technology that we never thought possible, so instead of building a Doric Column that might not have been required structurally we create a veil like roof that undulates in ways not possible 20 years ago.

Sorry for the ramble, but contemporary architecture is never overrated, its the clearest record of our goals and aspirations as a society. You might not like it (like you might not like Trump leading the polls for the Republican nomination) but it reflects where we are as a society today.