From Bauhaus to Our House: Tom Wolfe contra modernist architecture
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In his 1981 book-length essay From Bauhaus To Our House, Tom Wolfe not only presents a compact history of modernist architecture, devoting the pages to masters such as Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius or Ludwig Mies van der Rohe but also frontally attacks modern architecture and complains that a small group of architects took over control of people’s aesthetic choices. According to Wolfe, modern buildings wrought destruction on American cities, sweeping away their vitality and diversity in favour of the pure, abstract order of towers in a row. Modernist architects, on the other hand, saw the austere buildings of concrete, glass and steel as signposts of a new age, as the physical shelter for a new, utopian society. This article attempts to analyse Tom Wolfe’s selected criticisms of the modernist architecture presented in From Bauhaus to Our House. In order to understand Wolfe’s discontent with modernist architecture’s basic tenets of economic, social, and political conditions that prompted architects to pursue a modernist approach to design will be discussed.
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