Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH)
Society of Architectural Historians (SAH)
European Architectural History Network (EAHN)
International Conference, Zurich
June 26, 2008 – June 29, 2008
TRANSFER AND METAMORPHOSIS: ARCHITECTURAL MODERNITY BETWEEN EUROPE AND THE AMERICAS 1870–1970
This conference will consider Europe and the Americas as a continuous and highly productive space of architectural communication. It seeks to elucidate the processes of assimilation and modification that happened to forms, ideas and concepts of architectural modernity during their transfer from one continent to another.
Some areas of these processes are relatively well known. Figures such as William Lescaze, Richard Neutra, Walter Gropius or Ludwig Mies van der Rohe stand for a European presence in the archi-tecture of North America, while European "Amerikanismus" introduced issues of high- rise building and urban growth, mass production and prefabrication to the architectural debates. We would like to broaden the view beyond such established phenomena to include the period of political consolidation and economic growth on both continents after ca. 1870 and the postwar period before the growing impact of globalization on architectural practice. The less known contacts among Mediterranean countries and Latin America also deserve attention. We want to reach beyond the transfer of formal or functional ideas and consider the entire field of architectural history and theory, as well as the rich conditions of architectural production. Where and how did topics and methods of architectural debates and their publications influence each other? Which role did architecture schools play in this cultural transfer? How did the export of American building methods, for example, change the way architecture came about in Europe and Latin America? Where has the adaptation of certain legal frameworks helped to shape urban form?
The reconstruction of such processes will reliably encounter issues of modern local, regional/spatial or national identities. The reception and processing of different traditions will require comparative analyses and we will debate the productive misunderstandings and creative misreadings we will surely encounter in this area.
Comparative perspectives will present individual architects and their work on both continents, examine the cross cultural influence of certain schools of architecture and design, the reflection and distribution of architectural thought through different media such as film and photography, or look at the transnational career of particular building types, the adaptation of buildings to climate and nature, to local technologies and cultural traditions, as well as the changing fortunes of theoretical approaches at different locations and geographies of modernity.
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