Architects have traditionally been the architects of the new wave of anti-aesthetic architecture.
They have been tasked with creating new architectural forms that combine aesthetics with function.
But what if they were also designers, too?
In the world of design, anti-modernist architecture has a long and storied history.
It began in the late 1800s, when the German architects Friedrich Wilhelm Breitner and Albert Breitler were at the forefront of the anti-industrial movement.
In their time, they pioneered the anti‑technological, anti‑socialist aesthetic, which emphasized the aesthetic of efficiency and efficiency, and the social and aesthetic qualities of community.
The work of Breitners and Breitlers influenced the modernist movement, which began in France and was ultimately influenced by the likes of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Marcel Breuer.
In the 1950s and 60s, the architectural style of the likes, such as the New Yorker and New York Public Library, took an anti‑modernist edge, in part because of the work of architects such as Norman Foster and John Seabrook.
In the 1960s, an anti‐modernist revival took hold in the United States, which was then in a deep economic crisis.
The Great Society, a program that offered a $10,000 loan to low-income students, was part of the response to the crisis.
By the late 1960s and early 1970s, anti‐aesthetic architects such, Norman Foster, John Seabbrook, and Foster + Partners were producing new forms of anti‐industrialism, such like the New American, or “New American” architecture, that sought to integrate design and the economic conditions of the time.
It is hard to overstate how influential these designs have been in shaping the American aesthetic.
While anti‐anarchist architects and social theorists have been able to produce new forms, they have also tended to have very little to say about their aesthetics.
In particular, they often don’t want to.
They prefer to be left alone to make art.
They want to make their own decisions about what to make, but they are more than willing to give the impression that their aesthetic is more important than that of the people who create it.
In this way, they can take pride in the fact that they are not trying to impose their particular aesthetic upon others.
In an essay for the book, Anti-Modernist Architecture: From Design to Architecture, which appeared in the Journal of the American Academy of Arts and Design in 2010, the architect and critic J.J. Sohn calls anti‐anti-modernism the “last remaining architectural tradition.”
It is also one of the most important architectural traditions of our time, Sohn writes, because it “has produced the most radical, radical, modernist architecture in the world.”
In his essay, Sommers describes the “tendency to place aesthetics above function,” and explains that this “tends to make anti‐design a powerful and powerful force in contemporary architectural practice.”
He argues that in the anti‐new industrial architecture of the late 1980s and 90s, “we saw the anti–aesthetic turn becoming the dominant force.
This led to the creation of new forms that did not follow the aesthetics of the earlier anti‐technological styles, but instead sought to make aesthetic design the central component of the industrial context.”
While this is true, Sussman also explains that “it is important to recognize that the modernists who pioneered this direction were not all anti‐socialists, but rather anti‐materialists.”
Sussmans’ essay begins by arguing that “the modernist aesthetic can be seen as an aesthetic and a political stance.
But we must not forget that modernism was a political movement as well.
It was the attempt to transform the social, the political, the economic.”
The result of this political turn, he explains, is that “anti‐anti‐modernism is now a dominant force in American architecture.”
This article appeared in VICE magazine.