Reply To: What style is that?

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James McQuillan

The discussion about ‘styles’ is interesting because of the issues it raises. Modernity is completely pluralistic, so any political outlook can and did, adopt any ‘style’ to express itself at any given time or place. The terms themselves are merely handy labels, and certainly one label merges into another, as the discussion has demonstrated. German Nazis could build Gothic castles for the SS and sleek ‘modern’ air-hangars; Mussolini tolerated modernism as an expression of Fascism. Stalin went about it in a diferent way, slowly imposing his heavy Classicism.

The important point not to miss here is the goal of utopianism, that architects can build a new world. Almost all ‘new’ movements in architecture must be judged against the pervading presence of utopianism, progress, etc. It turns out that far from satisifying social issues, what is deing served are notions of efficiency, and symbols of technology. The endearing comments of your Dubliners on various ‘pieces of buildings’, demonstrate an engagement far beyond that of the instrumentality of the drawing board, and geometrical ‘order’ that arose with the fall of the Baroque and the victory of Neoclassicism. Most architects today are completely torn between both points of thinking and feeling. ‘The centre cannot hold . . ‘

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