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Loos und Das Neue Frankfurt - The many forms of modern

By Hilde Heynen
12.01 1990

Adolf Loos’s architecture is in a very concise way “modern” because it recognizes both the coercive power and the inevitability of modernization, and the other still holds on to the habitability and attempt to create a certain harmony. The architecture of Ernst May and Das Neue Frankfurt is on a completely different way ‘modern’.

(autotranslated) The many forms of the modern: Loos and Das Neue Frankfurt
abstract for a lecture on 12 January 1990

Modernity has brought about a lot of different trends and ideas in the cultural and artistic life. Also in the architecture of the experience of modernity was themed and processed. In addition, however, are very different views on the agenda. Not all architects who themselves as ‘modern’ consider, simply belong to the tradition of the Modern Movement.

Adolf Loos example, which like no other in a penetrating way the ambivalent experience of modernity has shaped his work, by “orthodox” historians Siegfried Giedon not included in the mainstream of the Modern Movement. Yet his architecture in a very concise way “modern” because they both recognize the binding force and the inevitability of modernization, and the other still holds on to the attempt habitability and a certain harmony to create.

The architecture of Ernst May and Das Neue Frankfurt is on a completely different way ‘modern’. Its modernity lies in the ruled, programmatic approach to social housing, which is used as a tool to give shape to an existing city – Frankfurt. A modernist architektuurtaal and a modernist ideology complete the range of means to May combats against rigid conservatism.

The many forms of modern: Loos and Das Neue Frankfurt
tekst of the introduction
When we want to talk about the modern, we need first and foremost to make a clear distinction between modernization and modernity and modernism. Modernization stands for social development that is characterized by technological advancements and industrialization, urbanization and demographic explosions, bureaucracy and strengthen the nation-state, enormous growth in communication, democratization and expanding (capitalist) world, etc … This process, in the Western world almost since the eighteenth century is ongoing, evolving with such great momentum that it has assumed universal proportions. There is hardly any place in the world to point to that is not confronted in one way or another with the consequences of the modernization process.

The term modernity refers to the way it is perceived in the perception of the individual. If the ‘modernization’ socio-economic development process at societal level, then ‘modernity’ the proper definition for how this development affects the everyday lives. In this sense modernity versus tradition: modernity is the name of a feeling that involves a continuous development and change, a focus on a future that will be different from the past and different from the present; Tradition represents the forces that oppose this permanent change, the continuity of existence, which was handed down from the past.
Modernity experience evokes responses in the form of cultural discourse and artistic movements. These are designated by the name modernism. In its broadest sense, this term should therefore be understood as the collective name for all ideas, to all intellectual and artistic movements that respond to the modernization. Modernist discourses seek to involve people in the process of modernization. They set themselves the objective that people should not passively undergo modernization, but on the contrary should contribute actively to: individuals should not be ot only object of socio-economic development, they should be able as subject momentum indicate this development.

Programmatic and short-lived modernity concept:
One can argue that there are different concepts of modernity, different interpretations of modernity are in circulation. An initial distinction must be made between a programmatic and a short-lived concept. The programmatic concept of modernity see modernity as a project: the emphasis is on the quest for liberation and emancipation, and one uses a linear, focused history model. The short-lived concept, however, has primarily attention to the ephemeral and liquefying aspect of modern reality, and mounts the constant change and change independently of a targeted windscreen whole endeavor. Both concepts have their roots in the concrete experience of a world in transformation, a modernizing world that is constantly evolving, and the world looks different today than yesterday, and tomorrow will look different than today. Where in controlling one case this constant change is understood as a result of efforts the future and an emancipated society to bring about, one is in the other case fascinated by ‘vervloeiings’ effects associated with it.

The intriguing character of modernity lies in the combination of these two modalities: modernity connects paradoxically future orientation and melancholy, windshield whole aim and sense of the ephemeral, the transitory. Modernity is therefore experienced in a fundamentally ambivalent way: “Modern means that we find ourselves in an environment that promises adventure, power, joy, growth, transformation of ourselves and the world – and, at the same time to destroy everything driegt what we have, everything we know, everything we have. “1

In modern architecture is a programmatic modernity concept was dominant. When Giedion, Le Corbusier, Gropius, Das Neue Frankfurt, etc … we find beliefs that connect the idea of ​​modernity mainly by progress, emancipation, shaping the future. Only here and there found traces of a short-lived concept. In the Manifesto of futuristic architecture for example (Marinetti and Sant’Elia, 1914), a plea in favor of an architecture that has lost its static and monumental character, a volatile architecture with a short lifespan, a dynamic architecture that meets the speed and constantly changing demands of modern life.

Pastoral and non-pastoral visions:
A pastoral vision of modernity is based on the idea that a final synthesis reconcile divergent trends and developments are possible. In the pastoral dominates the idyllic image of a harmonious state in which all contradictions are overcome: the gap between art and science, between morality and law, between economic laws and the requirements of justice … can and will be closed. In contrast, the anti-pastoral view which defends the thesis that the irreparable fractures and contradictions are insurmountable: the modernization does not lead to an ideal society, but calls contradictions in life that are irreconcilable. According to this view are contradictions as those between economics and justice, between solidarity and prosperity, between public and private, between art and society, etc … necessary and inherent in a modern society.
In modern architecture is again above the initial vision was leading: especially Giedion was based on the belief that there was an underlying unity and synthesis which all seemingly chaotic developments in the modern world to each bond, which ultimately would be visible at the surface be. Le Corbusier and others we find similar ideas. As a representative of the anti-pastoral view we can refer mainly to Adolf Loos: Loos is clear that there are insurmountable contradictions between art and architecture, between industry and craft, between inside and outside, between private and public.

Hilde Heynen
After studying architecture and philosophy began Hilde Heynen to a doctoral research under the supervision of A. Loeckx and G. Bekaert. This led to a dissertation entitled Modernity and Architecture. Here a critical vision is developed on the relationship between architecture and society. A number of concepts in Adorno’s Aesthetic Theory are in architecture theoretical sense remembered and used to come to the formulation of a conception of architecture which respects the autonomy of the discipline, but also accountability for its social commitment. This theoretical structure was built to interact with two case studies from the history of modern architecture: Adolf Loos and Dan Neue Frankfurt.
An important stage in the process that led to this thesis, was by its active contribution to the organization and substantive preparation of the colloquium ‘Modernism and the City (1986). in the platform text which she edited a first theoretical understanding provision was made for the occasion of ‘modernity’ in the architecture: modern, as it is called here, are those architects who reflect critically on the social modernization in their work. This text was also examined what was the attitude of several contemporary architects (Loos, Le Corbusier, Ernst May, the Russian Constructivists …) with regard to the existing city: acceptance and rejection, glorification of the new and vilification of the chaos are the poles between which they are seeking a balance. These different approaches are already appearing the different faces of modernity that Heynen her doctorate further decomposes.

Curriculum vitae
⁃ born in 1959
⁃ civil engineering architect, KULeuven, 1981
⁃ special license philosophy, K.U.Leuven, 1982
⁃ doctorate Applied Sciences, University of Leuven, 1988
⁃ since 1982: assistant architectural theory KULeuven, Department of Architecture, Urban Design and Planning
Belangrijkste Publikaties
⁃ “Introduction.” The modern “architecture and the city,” (several co-auters) in Program book Colloquium ‘Modernism and the City’, Department of Architecture, University of Leuven, Leuven, 1986, pp. 1-35
⁃ Texts Colloquium ‘Modernism and the City “(ed.), Department of Architecture, University of Leuven, Leuven, 1987 (co-editor A. Loeckx).
⁃ “A philosophy of the city without urban sensibility. Response to an article by Heinz Paetzold in Crisis 32” in Krisis 34, March 1989, pp. 73-78.
⁃ “Modernity and architecture in the work of Walter Benjamin” in Krisis 35, June 1989, pp. 15-22.
⁃ “Architecture between modernity and live. Notes following Adorno’s Aesthetic Theory” in Archis, No. 12, 1989