Modernity and Housing
424 pp., 9 x 11 in,
- Published: October 13, 1993
- Publisher: The MIT Press
- Published: August 4, 1995
- Publisher: The MIT Press
Peter Rowe explores the social, cultural, and expressive history of housing at two crucial moments: the first large-scale developments along modernist lines in the 1920s, and the widespread reconsideration of modernist principles in the 1970s.
Starting from the question of how can the design of modern housing can be successful, Peter Rowe explores the social, cultural, and expressive history of housing at two crucial moments: the first large-scale developments along modernist lines in the 1920s, and the widespread reconsideration of modernist principles in the 1970s. Although the inquiry is conducted along historical and theoretical lines, it proposes to uncover practical principles that may guide the design of modern housing, each principle responding to a contemporary architectural paradox posed by modern conditions. Six detailed case studies form the illustrative centerpiece of the book. Modernity and Housing embraces three more or less parallel themes concerning modernity: the rise of technocracy and the attendant tendency of modern space to become universal while the experience of time is confined to the present; the problem of representation for a culture in which subject-centered reason has replaced metaphysical foundations; and social practices that give rise to urban concentrations and the production of mass housing on an unprecedented scale. Within these themes, the modern experience of space and time philosophically grounds discussion of local and traditional versus universal and novel building practices. The perspective of subject-centered reason grounds the exploration of the use of abstract forms and the comcomitant problem of providing for an expressive architectural language; while the unprecedented quantities of housing production raise the thorny issue of widely defining a normative building program that allows for local particularity. The case studies cover Sunnyside Gardens, New York; Romerstadt, Frankfurt-am-Main; Kiefhoek, Rotterdam; Byker Redevelopment, United Kingdom; Villa Victoria, United States; Malagueira Quarter, Portugal. An appendix contains an annotated and statistical summary of all major housing projects described in the text (about 40) with notes that include the date, size, place, architect, client, housing type, relative densities, and other items of interest.
Modernity and Housing is an intelligent and original work that fills important gaps in the literature about this building type. It combines issues of ethics, philosophy, technology and politics to explain housing of this century, and to justify housing as a major focus for contemporary design professionals- both architects and urban planners. It is a well researched book and is a useful text for students and practitioners alike.
Adele Naude Santos, Dean, School of Architecture, University of California
Modernity and Housing provides an extremely useful analysis of the evolution of modern housing production as a conpendium of some of the most important design prototypes of this century in Europe and North america, placed in the context of changing political and social ideals. This book is timely. It addresses a major need.
Richard Plunz, Professor of Architecture, Director, Urban Design Program, Columbia University
Debates about housing encompass intellectual, political, and artistic questions, intensifying and expanding the professional parameters of architecture. Peter Rowe's Modernity and Housing brings expansive knowledge, keen intellect, and passionate moral concerns to his subject. We recognize once again, in this discussion, that architectural design can simulataneously engage aesthetic issues of representation and political issues of social equity. That lesson, even more than architectonic form, is the true legacy of modernism.
Gwendolyn Wright, Professor, Columbia University
This is an impressive book, one that gathers a tremendous range of information to show how housing has been shaped in this century. Peter Rowe is an insightful and regreshingly fair-minded historian of modern housing and development.
Philip Langdon, author, American Houses
Funding provided by: National Endowment for the Humanities/Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Humanities Open Book Program.