Urban Artifacts and a Theory of the City / Typological Questions / Post Functionalism Response

Rossi and Eisenman view modernism as close-minded in its efforts to obtain a unity and universality behind form making.  While I would agree with their idea that to search for an object’s origin is reductive in it not acknowledging an object as a product of change and evolution through time, I would disagree with any claim that says form does not come out of a combination of functions layered on top of one another in varying intensities.  Modernism looked to simplify in the face of a world which was expanding more rapidly than ever before in part to the industrial revolution.  Anxiety and a need to rationalize the ever-changing world around them seem to be the main motivators of modernists. However post-modernists like Rossi and Eisenman understand (with the historical vision of cities as perpetually expanding autonomous entities) that to be limiting one’s self in a world that is ever pushing the boundaries is harmful.  In the modernist aim to produce for the “everyman” they do not acknowledge the contemporary city dweller as a combination of various ideologies, stereotypes and influences, no two of which are alike in every way.

Perhaps modernist philosophy is better suited to the realm of arts that are less influenced by ever-shifting economics like art.  In a post-industrial revolution age most every public building is subject to economic factors, and therefore popular opinion.  To satisfy the public often a balance must be struck, compromise reached, between program and aesthetics in order to be both useful and pleasing. Modernist buildings seem to become cold and sterile, often unable to pass the second test.


Rossi says that functionalism contradicts its own hypothesis. How exactly?

Rossi claims to place cities into categories is to render them immobile yet much of his reading is centered on typology in building elements as being essential to architecture. Is this not then hypocritical when he says that buildings are to a city as architectural elements are to their buildings?

Is Eisenman opposed to objects speaking about themselves in just architecture or every art? ­­­­­­­­­­


About mhgoblue

Architecture Undergrad University of Michigan

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