Modernist Enthusiasms

October 6, 2007

“Advancing technology provided the builder with new materials and more efficient methods which were often in glaring contrast to our traditional conception of architecture. … I felt that it must be possible to harmonized the old and the new in our civilization.?
Mies van der Rohe, A Personal Statement by the Architect, 1964
The middle of the twentieth century was notable for its architectural idealism. Modernists of all vocations sought to embrace the new technology which was so rapidly emerging and use it to formulate a new and better way of living. This is nowhere more clear than in modernist housing designs.
In contrast to their predecessors, modern homes were open and flowing spaces which allowed even the most minimal of post-war cottages to seem spacious when compared with the old hallway linked plans. These new open plans were made possible by advances in structural engineering which allowed for increased spans and the removal of interior bearing walls.(26) Living and dining rooms merged. Kitchens could be screened by partial walls or built in furniture but still allow the cook to feel like a part of the family group. Exterior walls opened up into large expanses of glass, interrupted by sliding glass doors, which broke down barriers between inside and out. Modernist furniture became lighter, more mobile and more adaptable, assuming “a new role as space dividers that could be taken apart, added to, and moved from room to room.?(24)
Many architects of the time used housing developments as vehicles for their agendas of social change. Frank Lloyd Wright – Broadacre City and Usonian Homes
Wijsenhof and Mies etc etc
John Entenza of Arts + Architecture Magazine organized the Case Study House Program [find source] to use off the shelf components and synthetic materials to create an affordable version of the new Modern style that hey hoped to market to greater masses.

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