Saturday, February 26, 2011

Léon Krier discusses The Architecture of Community

By Scott Carlson

It's helpful to understand that Léon Krier is an architectural traditionalist before starting his book, The Architecture of Community (Island Press), or you might not get what his fuss is about. He begins with a rather provocative thought experiment: "If, one day, for some mysterious reason, all the buildings, settlements, suburbs, and structures built after 1945--especially those commonly called 'modern'--vanished from the face of the earth, would we mourn their loss?"
Well, yes, it seems we would. Just think of the great buildings by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Louis Kahn, Frank Lloyd Wright, and so on. But Krier's thought experiment doesn't end there: What if, instead, all of the pre-modern buildings--the ones we consider historic--disappeared? Would we weep more for them?
And there begins the rather provocative arguments that Krier lays out in Community. Krier contends that modernism, whatever its virtues in small scale, has been nothing but a disaster in larger scales--a force that has managed to sterilize cities aesthetically, ruin years of expertise in building trades, and lead planners and developers to compose cities in unsustainable ways. Krier punctuates his arguments with his illustrations, which are sometimes more like architectural editorial cartoons, presenting modern architecture in grotesque exaggeration. (If you're more of a picture-book kind of person, you might pick up Drawing for Architecture [The MIT Press], Krier's recently released collection of these illustrations, sans essays.) 

Leon Krier, by Daquella manera

more about architecture:

How many qualified Chinese landscape architects are there? – and how many does China need?

City Beautiful movement

Architecture & Urban Planning in China: urbanization to create massive infrastructure investment

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