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"Modernism's Love Child: The Story of Happy Architectures": Devalued Currency: Elegiac Symposium on Paradigm Shifts Part 1

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date2008
JournalCommon Knowledge
Journal number3
Volume14
Number of pages27
Pages445-471
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

According to Thomas Kuhn, the entrenchment of a paradigm, especially in the critical stages when facing anomalies, requires the further suppression of competing ideas. This essay addresses the unconscious entrenchment of European modernist aesthetics in the everyday, especially in the American suburbs of the 1950s, and its popular and cultural manifestations. Taking Levittown as a starting point, modernist architectural principles have since its construction radiated into the mass-housing market and materialized in housing development projects that have led to the rise of suburbia and, more recently, the New Urbanism. Despite the conventional separations of modernism from the more criticized mass-housing development, the same principles of security, shelter, community, and utopia are present in each. Presented by some architects as a postmodernist aesthetic, the central tenets of modernism are still pursued and reimagined as timeless principles in the building of new housing communities, recycled and reconstituted to meet the dreams and desires of the public—a utopia that is both avant-garde and kitsch.