Highlighted Selections from:

Programs and Manifestoes on 20th-Century Architecture


Conrads, Ulrich. Programs and manifestoes on 20th-century architecture. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 1970. Print. via http://monoskop.org/log/?p=11042

p.17: It is a question of creating the Futurist house according to a sound plan, of building it with the aid of every scientific and technical resource, of fulfilling to the limit every demand of our way of life and our spirit, of rejecting every thing grotesque, cumbrous, and alien to us (tradition, style, aesthetic, proportion), establishing new forms, new lines, a new harmony of profiles and volumes, an architecture whose raison d'ĂȘtre hes solely in the special conditions of modern life, whose aesthetic values are in perfect harmony with our sensibility. This architecture cannot be subject to any law of historical continuity, It must be as new as our frame of mind is new. -- Highlighted mar 23, 2014

p.18: We feel that we are no longer the men of the cathedrals, the palaces, the assembly halls; but of big hotels, railway stations, immense roads, colossal ports, covered markets, brilliantly lit galleries, freeways, demolition and rebuilding schemes. -- Highlighted mar 23, 2014

p.20: Support for architectural ideas which, above and beyond the purely formal aspect, strive for the concentration of all the national energies in the symbol of the building belonging to a better future and which demonstrate the cosmic character of architecture, its religious foundations, so-called Utopias. The provision of public funds in the form of grants to radically inclined architects to enable them to carry out such projects. -- Highlighted mar 23, 2014

p.21: These buildings should be the first attempt at unifying the energies of the people and of artists, the preliminaries for developing a culture. They cannot stand in the metropolis because the latter, being rotten in itself, will disappear along with the old power. The future lies on the newly developed land, which will feed itself (not 'on the water'). -- Highlighted mar 23, 2014

p.22: In the forefront stands the guiding principle:

  • Art and people must form a unity.
  • Art shall no lnnger be the enjoyment of the few but the life and happiness of the masses.
  • The aim is alliance of the arts under the wing of a great architecture.

-- Highlighted mar 23, 2014

p.25: The manner of teaching arises from the character of the workshop:

  • Organic forms developed from manual skms.
  • Avoidance of all rigidity; priority of creativity; freedom of individuality, but strict study discipline.
  • Master and journeyman examinations, according to the Guild Statutes, held before the Council of Masters of the Bauhaus or before outside masters.
  • Collaboration by the students in the work of the masters.
  • Securing of commissions, also for students.
  • Mutual planning of extensive, Utopian structural designs - public buildings and buildings for worship - aimed at the future. Collaboration of all masters and students - architects, painters, sculptors - on these designs with the object of gradually achieving a harmony of all the component elements and parts that make up architecture.
  • Constant contact with the leaders of the crafts and industries of the country.
  • Contact with public life, with the people, through exhibitions and other activities.

-- Highlighted mar 23, 2014

p.27: The simultaneous process of revolutionary political decisions and radical changes in human relationships in economy and science and religion and art give belief in the new form an a priori right to exercise control, and provide a justifiable basis for a rebirth amidst the misery produced by world-historical disasters. -- Highlighted mar 23, 2014

p.28: 'Oh, our concepts: space, home, style!' Ugh, how these concepts stink! Destroy them, put an end to them! Let nothing remain! Chase away their schools, let the professorial wigs fly, we'll play catch with them. Blast, blast! Let the dusty, matted, gummed up world of concepts, ideologies and systems feel our cold north wind! Death to the concept-lice! Death to everything stuffy! Death to everything called title, dignity, authority! Down with everything serious! -- Highlighted mar 23, 2014

p.32:

  1. The end of exhibitions. Instead: demonstration rooms for total works.
  2. An international exchange of ideas concerning creative problems.
  3. The development of a universal means of creation for all arts.
  4. An end to the division between art and life. (Art becomes life.)
  5. An end to the division between artist and man.

-- Highlighted mar 23, 2014

p.34: The Staatliches Bau haus, founded after the catastrophe of the war in the chaos of the revolution and in the era of the flowering of an emotion-laden, explosive art, becomes the rallying-point of all those who, with belief in the future and with sky-storming enthusiasm, wish to build the 'cathedral of Socialism'. The triumphs of industry and technology before the war and the orgies in the name of destruction during it called to life that impassioned romanticism which was a flaming protest against materialism and the mechanization of art and life. -- Highlighted mar 23, 2014

p.35: An idealism of activity that embraces, penetrates, and unites art, science, and technology and that influences research, study, and work will construct the 'art-edifice' of Man, which is but an allegory of the cosmic system. Today we can do no more than ponder the total plan, lay the foundations, and prepare tile building stones.

But:
We exist! We have the will! We are producing!

-- Highlighted mar 23, 2014

p.35: Now the new generation of engineers is growing up!

This means: first the perfection - then the end of mechanistic technology. The last mighty soaring of mechanistic technology, because the requisite laws are a component of the modern world-view that has been mastered and the means for the creation of elemental form are perfectly clear to the new engineer.

Necessary consequences of this c!arlty and mastery are: simplicity, balance, naturalness, the shrewdest economy.

-- Highlighted mar 23, 2014

p.35: The new, more splendid technology of tensions, of invisible movements, of remote control and speeds such as cannot even be imagined in 1922 will come into being, uninfluenced by the methods of mechanistic technology. -- Highlighted mar 23, 2014

p.41: Awake! Awake from the compulsive sleep into which you children of Adam have been plunged by the unripe fruit of the world tree and pluck your divine happiness, now never to be lost again, from its in finite branches : the knowledge of the primal meaning of all being 'development'. Life is the unconscious answer to stimuli, experience is human existence. The value of a life follows from the sum of the creature's experience in Creation; therefore the duration of a life and the course it takes are not matters of indifference. -- Highlighted mar 23, 2014

p.41: The mania for discovery is merely poverty of imagination and creative power. -- Highlighted mar 23, 2014

p.42: We have been moulded by the machine for centuries, but beyond this positive dance of death, this unregarded single-plane, single-track skeletal development, this misunderstood incorporealization, whose inertia factor, the equilibrium oh architecture, was set free from the nauseating popular-song repetition of one formula of motion, the god of the earth will recall his noble mission. {The best thing about the machine was at most the construction of it members, the first attempt at formal refinement.) -- Highlighted mar 23, 2014

p.44: The machine develops out of geometry. Thus the whole of the modern age is made up above all of geometry; it directs its dreams towards the joys of geometry. After a century of analysis, modern arts and thought are seeking something beyond the random fact and geometry leads them towards a mathematical order, an attitude of mind that is increasingly widespread. -- Highlighted mar 23, 2014

p.45: Cars, cars, speed, speed! One is carried away, seized by enthusiasm, by joy. Not by enthusiasm at seeing the shiny bodywork glistening in the light of the headlamps. But enthusiasm over the joy of power. The frank, ingenuous enjoyment of being at the centre of power, of energy. We share in this power. We are part of this society whose dawn is breaking. We have confidence in this new society, confidence that it will find the magnificent expression of its energy. We believe in it. -- Highlighted mar 23, 2014

p.46: Statistics show the past and sketch the future; they furnish figures and give the direction of curves.
Statistics serve the purpose of setting problems.

The machine gives our dreams their audacity: they can be realized.
-- Highlighted mar 23, 2014

p.48: The machine - capable of producing standardized products is an effective device, which, by means of mechanical aids - steam and electricity - can free the individual from working manually for the satisfaction of his daily needs and can provide him with mass-produced products that are cheaper and better than those manufactured by hand. There is no danger that standardization will force a choice upon the individual, since, due to natural competition, the number of availahle types of each object will always be ample to provide the individual with a choice of design that suits him best.

The Bauhaus workshops are essentially laboratories in which prototypes of products suitable for mass production and typical of our time are carefully developed and constantly improved.

In these laboratories the Bauhaus wants to train a new kind of collaborator for industry and the crafts, who has an equal command of both technology and form. -- Highlighted mar 23, 2014

p.50: The five essential points set out above represent a fundamentally new aesthetic. Nothing is left to us of the architecture of past epochs, just as we can no longer derive any benefit from the literary and historical teaching given in schools. -- Highlighted mar 23, 2014

p.53: For intelligence regulates our passions - but the human spirit makes the law. Therefore technology ends with man himself. For once technology becomes an end in itself mechanical theory leads to an over-valuation of technical inventions and makes of technology an an idol. Therefore no falsification of the human spirit through mechanization. On the contrary, it is the planned subjugation of natural forces to the service of man that first creates the basis for polities and economy. Society, culture, grows on the foundation of the economy. Man, therefore, is not the automated appendage of the machine but its inventor, its master. Only through mastery of his totally altered needs will his vision also become free again for the needs of the mystical elements in his nature that are turned towards the mystery. The hope of the new world has as its signal beacon a magnificent combination: Russia's power of sacrifice. -- Highlighted mar 23, 2014

p.57: But we are still in a state of becoming, of transition. The machine has become the servant of a bourgeois individualist culture born of the Renaissance. Just as the servant is paid and despised by the same master, so the machine is simultaneously used by the citizen and damned by his intellectual court, his artists, scholars and philosophers. The machine is not a servant, however, but a dictator - it dictates how we are to think and what we have to understand. As leader of the masses, who are inescapably bound up with it, it demands more insistently every year the transformation of our economy, our culture. It permits no pause for breath in the armchair of philosophy, no compromise with pacifist phrases. It grants us no prospect of an agreed peace, no aesthetic distance from the demands of life. Reality shows us how far we have already gone today in obeying the dictates of the machine : we have sacrificed handicrafts to it, we are in the process of offering up the peasantry to it. We have had to allow it to provide our most important means of travel and the basis for our great industries. Under its pressure we have evolved the new method of mass-production. Because of it we have had to place greater and greater organizational powers in the hands of the State and even to internationalize our most sacred national goods. -- Highlighted mar 23, 2014

p.59: pure construction is the basis and the characteristic of the new world of forms.

  1. sex life
  2. sleeping habits
  3. pets
  4. gardening
  5. personal hygiene
  6. weather protection
  7. hygiene in the home
  8. car maintenance
  9. cooking
  10. heating
  11. exposure to the sun
  12. service

these are the only motives when building a house. we examine the daily routine of everyone who lives in the house -- Highlighted mar 23, 2014

p.61: Let us also not overestimate the question of mechanization, standardization and normatization.
And let us accept the changed economic and social conditions as fact.
All these things go their destined way, blind to values. -- Highlighted mar 23, 2014

p.69: The sense of administrative responsibility and of social solidarity are daily shattered by the vigorous and constantly renewed onslaught of private interest. These various sources of energy stand in perpetual opposition and when one attacks, the other defends itself. In this unfortunately unequal struggle, private interest most often triumphs, guaranteeing the success of the stronger at the expense of the weaker. But good sometimes springs from the very excess of evil, and the immense material and moral chaos of the modern city will perhaps bring into being city legislation which, supported by a strong sense of administrative responsibility, will introduce the regulations indis pensable to human health and dignity. -- Highlighted mar 23, 2014

p.71: The machine age has introduced new techniques which are one of the causes of the disorder and confusion of cities. Nevertheless it is from them that we must demand the solution of the problem. Modern building techniques have established new methods, provided new facilities, permitted new dimensions. They have opened an entirely new cycle in the history of architecture. The new buildings will be not merely of a size, but also of a complexity unknown till now. In order to accomplish the multiple task imposed upon him, the architect, at all stages of the enterprise, must call upon the aid of numerous specialists. -- Highlighted mar 23, 2014

p.72: Because people have failed to understand the rules, the countryside has been emptied, towns have been filled beyond all reason, concentrations of industry have taken place haphazardly, workers' dwellings have become hovels. Nothing was done to safeguard man. The result is catastrophic and it is almost identical in every country. It is the bitter fruit of a hundred years of the undirected development of the machine. -- Highlighted mar 23, 2014

p.77: Technology is rooted in the past. It dominates the present and tends into the future. It is a real historical movement one of the great movements which shape and represent their epoch. It can be compared only with the Classic discovery of man as a person, the Roman will to power, and the religious movement of the Middle Ages. Technology is far more than a method, it is a world in itself. As a method it is superior in almost every respect. But only where it is left to itself, as in gigantic structures of engineering, there technology reveals its true nature. There it is evident that ii is not only a useful means, but that it is something, something in itself, something that has a meaning and a powerful form - so powerful in fact, that it is not easy to name it. Is that still technology or is that architecture? And that may be the reason why some people are convinced that architecture will be outmoded and replaced by technology, Such a conviction is not based on clear thinking. The opposite happens. Wherever technology reaches its real fulfilment, it transcends into architecture. It is true that architecture depends on facts, but its real field of activity is in the realm of significance. I hope you will understand that architecture has nothing to do with the inventions of forms. It is not a playground for children, young or old. Architecture is the real battleground of the spirit. Architecture wrote the history of the epochs and gave them their names. Architecture depends on its time. It is the crystallization of its inner structure, the slow unfolding of its form. That is the reason why technology and architecture are so closely related. Our real hope is that they will grow together, that some day the one will be the expression of the other. Only then will we have an architecture worthy of its name: architecture as a true symbol of our time. -- Highlighted mar 23, 2014

p.78: The machine is the tool of our age. It is the cause of those effects through which the social order manifests itself. -- Highlighted mar 23, 2014

p.78: Modular systems of co-ordination, scientific experimental methods, the laws of automation, and precision influmce creative thought.

Very complex static and mechanical problems demand the closest possible co-operation with industry and specialists in ideal teams composed of masters.

Human and aesthetic ideas will receive new impulses through the uncompromising application of contemporary knowledge and ability. -- Highlighted mar 23, 2014

p.80: + Only those technologists and scientists who are capable of living in mould and creatively producing mould will be the masters of tomorrow. +
And only after things have been creatively covered in mould, from which we have much to learn, will a new and wonderful architecture come into being. -- Highlighted mar 23, 2014

p.82: Technology is the application of knowledge and experience. Technology and construction are aids to execution. Technology is not art. -- Highlighted mar 23, 2014

p.86: The exercise of this playful creativity is the guarantee ofthe freedom of each and all, within the framework of that equality which is guaranteed by the absence of exploitation of one man by another. The freedom to play means man's creative autonomy, which goes beyond the old division between imposed work and passive leisure. -- Highlighted mar 23, 2014

p.87: As a result of the machine's ability to multiply and the rapidly increasing population figures, our age has acquired a dynamic trend towards mass production; the need is quantity and quality with the minimum effort. But a raised standard of living through standardization seems dearly bought with the growing monotony of our industrially manufactured environment and restriction of freedom of decision. The ever-growing army of machines and automata will relieve man of an ever-increasing proportion of manual labour; electronic brains are taking over intellectual drudgery. -- Highlighted mar 23, 2014

p.88: Individualist culture is at an end, its institutions are exhausted. The present task of the artist can only be to prepare the way for a future mass culture. For if there is still to be any talk of culture it will have to carry a mass society, and then the means can be sought only within mechanization. The shaping of the material environment and the liberation and organization of everyday life are the points of departure for new cultural forms. -- Highlighted mar 23, 2014

p.90: Architecture. It is born of the most powerful thoughts. For men it will be a compulsion, they will stifle in it or they will live - live, as I mean the word. Architecture is not an integument for the primitive instincts of the masses. Architecture is an embodiment of the power and longings of a few men. It is a brutal affair that has long since ceased to make use of art. It has no consideration for stupidity and weakness. It never serves. It crushes those who cannot bear it. Architecture is the law of those who do not believe in the law but make it. It is a weapon. Architecture ruthlessly employs the strongest means at its disposal at any given moment. Machines have taken possession of it and human beings are now merely tolerated in its domain. -- Highlighted mar 23, 2014

p.91: Today, for the first time in human history, at this point in time when an immensely advanced science and perfected technology offer us all possible means, we build what and how we will, we make an architecture that is not determined by technology but utilizes technology, a pure, absolute architecture. Today man is master over infinite space. -- Highlighted mar 23, 2014