Gottfried Semper and the Problem of Historicism

Review for Mari Hvattum’s Gottfried Semper and the Problem of Historicism published in 2004 by the Cambridge University Press. This book is as important as Harry Mallgrave’s biography with regard of interpreting Semper. Mari’s book, on the other hand, presents a systematic philosophical analysis of Semper’s lifelong ambition to formulate a global history of architecture as…

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Gottfried Semper: In Search of Architecture

Review for Wolfgang Herrmann’s Gottfried Semper: In Search of Architecture, published by the MIT Press, 1989. Semper’s and Schmarsow’s theories in architecture were initially intended to construct the foundation for the modern understanding of architectural space and spatiality. This book contains the transcript of Semper’s writing “The Attributes of Formal Beauty,” one of the most important…

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Constant, Caroline. 1990. “The Barcelona Pavilion as Landscape Garden, Modernity and the Picturesque.” AA Files 20: 46-54.

Constant put Mies’s Barcelona Pavilion into the “framework of picturesque garden tradition.” She believes that Mies was in debt to the picturesque in this work, which provides a means to transcend the difficulty of the work. The main argument of this paper, though, in this work Mies revealed the possibility to transcend the decorative and…

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Bruno, Reichlin. 1984. “The Pros and Cons of the Horizontal Window: the Perret — Le Corbusier Controversy.” Daidalos 13: 56–78.

Reichlin’s essay tells the story about the disagreement between Auguste Perret and Le Corbusier with regard to some of these modernists formal treatments, reflecting their contrasting opinions between the “new, extraordinary” generation and the”previous traditions.” Among the “faults” these architects made, the form of the openings on the wall surface was the most serious and…

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Brooks, H. Allen. 1979. “Frank Lloyd Wright and the Destruction of the Box.” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 38, no. 1 (1979): 7–14.

Brooks demonstrated how Wright dissolved the corner between the rooms to permit one room to penetrate into the other. The concept behind the destruction of box can be found in a wide range of Wright’s designs (not only buildings but also furniture and interiors) In Wright’s houses, the plans were made of walls in non-traditional…

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Hans Scharoun

Review for Peter Blundell Jones’s Hans Scharoun, originally published by Phaidon in 2004. Peter Blundell Jone wrote his first monograph on Scharoun at a fairly young age. Presented as so far the best monograph of Scharoun, Blundell Jone combed through Scharoun’s life and career in detail, revolved around a number of major concerns of Scharoun,…

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Modern Architecture: A Guidebook for His Students to This Field of Art

Review for Otto Wagner’s Modern Architecture: A Guidebook for His Students to This Field of Art (originally published in 1896), translated by Harry Mallgrave by Getty Center Publication in 1996. Even though missing the notion of “space,” this book is important mainly because Wagner’s thinking and buildings reflected a goal analogous to Hermann Muthesius. According to Stanford…

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Principles of Neo-Plastic Art (1925)

Review for Theo Van Doesburg’s Principles of Neo-Plastic Art (originally published in 1925). By “plastic,” Doesburg means an art form derived from a universal stylistic intent. The artist gave reality a new shape in a framework of deeper and “elementary space. He also says that the available limited vocabulary for this art is “plastic”, composed…

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The New Vision: Fundamentals of Bauhaus Design, Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture

Review for László Moholy-Nagy’s The New Vision: Fundamentals of Bauhaus Design, Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture (originally published in 1928) Moholy-Nagy in The New Vision, to illustrate the problem, listed forty-four adjectives describing different kinds of space. He managed a remarkably sophisticated synthesis of them, and above all, he turned what had previously been a matter…

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The English House

Review for Hermann Muthesius’s The English House (originally published in 1904-5), translated by Stewart Spencer (2007). This 3-volume book is the first full translation of Muthesius survey of English country house in the 1890s. The early version of this book published in 1987 intentionally omitted the first volume, which is mainly a historical review of…

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Style-Architecture and Building-Art: Transformations of Architecture in the Nineteenth Century and Its Present Condition

Review for Hermann Muthesius’s Style-Architecture and Building-Art: Transformations of Architecture in the Nineteenth Century and Its Present Condition (originally published in 1902) translated by Stanford Anderson. Proceeding his magisterial three-volume study of the English house (1904), this book reflected Muthesius’s denial that contemporary artistic production stemmed from either the continual adoption of past styles or…

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Plastic Art and Pure Plastic Art, 1937, and Other Essays, 1941-1943

Review for Piet Mondrian’s Plastic Art and Pure Plastic Art, 1937, and Other Essays, 1941-1943. Mondrian believes in an objective and universal expression. The “pure reality” that he was after cannot be found in subjective expression, because the subjective feeling, evoked by particular forms and natural color, obscures “pure reality.” Even though the appearance of natural…

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Mendelsohn, Erich. 1964. “The Three Dimensions of Architecture, Their Symbolic Significance.” in Symbols and Values: An Initial Study. Bryson, Lyman ed. New York: Cooper Squarem: 235–54.

Mendelsohn considered architecture from a unified perspective of plan, section, and elevation as three main graphic devices. He sees the structural system of the “new era” is based upon “elastic continuity,” whereas the ancient systems of post and beam and the medieval system of buttress and vault were “gravity structures” – unelastic and intermittent constructions.…

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Ebeling, Siegfried, and Spyros Papapetros. 2010 (1926). Space as Membrane. London: Architectural Association.

The influence of Ebeling on Mies has recently stressed by Fritz Neumeyer. (the artless words,171-77) Ebeling saw space as a membrane, a protective covering, like the bark of the tree, between man and the outer world. It was thus directly formed by man’s activity and equalized his relationship with the external world. Space,formed by the…

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Berlage, Hendrik Petrus. 1996. Hendrik Petrus Berlage: Thoughts on Style, 1886-1909. trans. Iain Boyd Whyte and Wim de Wit. Santa Monica, CA: The Getty Center for the History of Art.

Berlage acknowledged that geometry, or, in his terms, the mathematical science, is “not only of great usefulness in the creation of artistic form but is also an absolute necessity” (185). The assertion was based on his refusion of the“arbitrariness” in architectural treatment, especially over the debates of“beautiful or not beautiful.” By disputing the “arbitrariness,” he…

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Review:Lane, Barbara. 1968. Architecture and Politics in Germany, 1918-45. Boston: Harvard University Press.

Lane tried to answer the following question:“why the Nazi regime repudiated some types of art and endorsed others?” and how“to understand the reasons for the great significance of the visual arts in the cultural program of the new government?” And Lane’s argument is that “Nazis exercised control over architectural style not simply because it was…

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Review:Heynen, Hilde. 2000. Architecture and Modernity: A Critique. Cambridge: The MIT Press.

Borrowing definitions of modern, modernity and modern movement from Berman, Heynen aimed to clarify several aspects of modern architecture that correspond to societal conditions brought about modernity. Methodologically, she tried to discuss architecture, in particular the problem of dwelling that embodied modern architecture’s social aim, from the perspective of critical theory and link it to…

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Architect’s Apartment

Chinese philosophy traditionally seeks the harmonization and convergence of man and nature. This manner of thinking endows transitional spaces in architecture with an empathic sense of the combination of space, time and the presence of man, contributing to an extension of our spatial consciousness. The concept of the Chinese transitional space is twofold – the…

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From Garden Design Approach to Modern Spatial Configuration: The Development of the Architektonischer Garten Concept

Despite the recent studies dedicated to discuss-ing the concept of architektonischer Garten (also called Architekturgarten or Gartenarchitektur), the discourse of this concept has not been given its justice due to the lack of a critical account of its definition and development. Presented as a brief examination of its historical transformation from a garden design approach…

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