Preface and acknowledgments

The Europe' of the title of this book, a designation inherited from post war history, refers to the political entity of what up to now was called Western Europe, as distinct from Eastern Europe. To this political unity has corresponded an architectural one. Obviously, the particular and diverse conditions - cultural heritage, regional idiosyncrasies, geographical and environmental, not to mention political and economic factors - of each country where an architectural enterprise takes place and shape determine to a certain extent its ultimate character, regardless of the nationality of the architect. The reader should not. however, expect to find either a stylistic or a clearly identifiable cultural 'Europeanness' among the architectural projects presented here. As stylistic and cultural products, they share little in common. They reveal a plurality of points of view, a plurality which is heightened by the inclusion of architects from outside the Western European area - Oscar Niemeyer. I.M. Pei. Richard Meier, Frank Gehry. Robert Venturl and Denise Scott Brown. A/ata Isozaki and Tadao Ando. to name only a few. This globality. together with the reciprocal contemporary practice of European architects operating around the world, is what architecture in Europe shares with the increasingly mobile practice in the rest of the so-called Western world.

If there is a uniqueness to the architecture created in Europe during the period covered by this book - our selection includes projects built or planned to be built - it derives from the nature of the client and the institutional context of the projects. The client is often the state and the architectural practice is carried out within a relatively unrestricted legal and economic framework. These aspects explain the distinct architectural quality of large scale public institutional architecture and of social housing, and a more open approach to programmatic, morphological and technological experimentation evident in European buildings.

The period covered opens with the exuberant events of May 1968 and closes with European unification. Although these limits stand for cultural and political events, they express fundamental shifts in European life with unprecedented consequences in its architecture, as we hope to show. During this period, architecture was dominated by a discord between extremes of individualism and rules, tradition and invention, technophllia and technophobia. centnpetal and centrifugal relations to urban centres. Our intention has been to map the most salient developments of the period, to create a framework for locating, describing and interpreting architecture, rather than offering an exhaustive historical account. In so doing, we employed three approaches: a comprehensive introductory essay on the period: a forum' presenting reflections by some of the most prominent European critics of the period: a critical essay on each of the architectural projects included - these essays are linked in order to develop a number of arguments. In composing this panorama of architectural development in Europe, we have identified salient tendencies and patterns, evolving what philosophers call 'reconstructed' categories rather than using concepts already in use*. Our hope is that this will open up the discussion about the architecture of the past two decades.

The 'forum* of invited critics brings together jean-Louis Cohen. Fritz Neumeyer. Peter Rice and Lucius Burckhardt to discuss the issues of typology, urbanism. technology and ecology as they relate to the design of buildings during the period. We are grateful for their contribution, broadening and deepening the scope of the panorama we set out to explore.

The architectural projects which are presented in depth here were selected on the basis of their strong identity and the unique and paradigmatic role they have played in the development of European-based architecture, however subtle, controversial or unequal this role might be. Presented chronologically, according to their date of completion (if completed), these projects are encountered as if in a city without walls, to paraphrase André Malraux's description of art books as museums without walls. All the same, by removing a building from its actual, living context and presenting it in a book, we do not mean to imply that this is just as good a substitute experience as real life.

In assembling the documentation of these projects, we have worked in close collaboration with their creators and their offices. Without their assistance, our efforts would have been futile. Many others have contributed decisively in the generation of this work and we would like to express our gratitude here.

First we would like to acknowledge our indebtedness to the Technological University of Delft, whose one hundred and fiftieth anniversary falls this year. This book is our birthday offering.

Greener Homes for You

Greener Homes for You

Get All The Support And Guidance You Need To Be A Success At Living Green. This Book Is One Of The Most Valuable Resources In The World When It Comes To Great Tips on Buying, Designing and Building an Eco-friendly Home.

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment