Form Society Writings

On 8. August 2021 by Daniel Grünkranz

This is the research weblog of FORM SOCIETY. The entries represent some of our latest works in architectural theory and urbanism. NEW:

The Architecture of Borderscapes. Territorial Defence and Propaganda: The Involvement of Fortification Architecture in the Rise of the Modern Nation State in Europe.

The years between 1871 and 1945 mark a peak of the construction of fortification architecture in Europe which corresponds with the political and territorial reorganisation of the continent in nationalistic terms. This text analyses relations between the socio-political processes of the nation-state development of this period and fortification architecture as a distinct architectural category. In a transdisciplinary approach, the study asks for the correlation between the architectural fortification of borders and the nationalisation of states and addresses therefore a relationship between architecture and politics as different entities. Usually, nation-state studies are not concerned with architecture, and the study of fortification architecture, which primarily focuses on typology, design and technologies, do not provide a link to the subject of nationstate development. This study traces such a link by a historic survey which reveals that fortification architecture relates to nationalisation processes in different roles. This involvement of fortification architecture implies changing aspects: For one thing, the function of fortification architecture in order to defend the territorial demarcation of nationalising states, and, for another thing, its capacity of becoming valuable for nation-state ideology and propaganda. In both roles, as military installation and as symbol, fortification architecture is again linked to understandings of territory, border and nation which constitute elements of nationalisation processes. Read more: The Architecture of Borderscapes

FORM SOCIETY is delighted to announce the publication of the book Reinventing Eastern Europe: Imaginaries, Identities and Transformations by Transnational Press, London. This collection of essays – edited by Evinc Dogan – brings together a wide range of topics that shed light on the social, cultural, economic, political and spatio-temporal changes influencing post-socialist cities of Eastern Europe.

FORM SOCIETY has contributed to this edited collection an essay discussing the revaluation of the public space of the so-called post-socialist city by the example of the town of Velenje. Once a small market place, belonging to the vast Habsburg Empire, Velenje became a major industrial hub after the Second World War and a regional economic centre of the newly founded Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. At the same time a new Velenje emerged. Today, after Slovenia’s independence a quarter of a century ago, the town stands out as an example of modernist town planning of the socialist period in East and Southeast Europe. Velenje is currently promoted both as an important business location and as a tourist destination emphasising its heritage as a modernist model city. The transition from socialism to market economy has been accompanied by a revaluation of Velenje’s modernist architecture and design of public space. This is evident in processes of aestheticisation and reorganisation. On the one hand, the built environment is now associated with a different system of meaning. On the other hand, parts of the public space of Velenje have been redesigned by the Slovenian architectural office ENOTA. The physical reorganisation and reprogramming of a vast pedestrian zone in the centre of the town serve the production of a different form of publicness in contradiction to the notions of the socialist period.  

Tube House VietnamReviewing a positive modernism

In Vietnam, the tube house signifies the traditional type of residential and shop house. Its name derives from the extreme aspect ratio of the building which is only a view meters in width but up to 60 meters in depth. For the past 60 years, Vietnam’s cities have witnessed powerful processes of population growth, densification and urbanization. The modernist redevelopment of the tube house in the second half of the 20th century represents an approach to cope with these processes and the challenging conditions which they produced. This was done with reference to traditional motives of Vietnamese architecture and the introduction of new elements by the use of modernist principles. Read more …

Ecological hyper-architecture and the ambiguity of its value

The environmentalist movement of the 1960s and 1970s was partly constituted by ecological aware architecture. The value of architectural designs was considered relative to actions supporting the recovery of the endangered ecosystem and the survival of human kind. Contemporary hyper-architecture, which incorporates formal and performative principles by the use of computation and indexing, directs ecological awareness no longer exclusively towards moral decision-making. It is rather incorporated in mindsets, which allegedly recognize the ever present topics of ecological cycles and the use of resources, but as generative potentials for the shaping and innovation of architecture itself. A consequence of the ecological hyper-architecture discourse is the shift of values between the realm of architectural production and the realm of ethics. Read more …

Impressions of Milan – Principles of a Modern City

A visit to Milan inspired FORM SOCIETY to reflect on the modern Italian city of which Milan is an exceptional example. In the exhibition innesti-grafting at the 2014 Venice Biennale of Architecture curator Cino Zucci introduced Milan as a “laboratory of modernity” that constantly transforms the urban texture and the architectural structures of the city. Today, Milan confronts its inhabitants and visitors with a variety of architectural forms. Yet, it seems that these distinct elements are not without relations to more extensive systems, which are traceable in the urban configuration. The following text will sketch some of these situations detectable in the urban core of Milan. Read more …

Architecture-Technology-Relations. Aesthetics, ethics, and the metaphysics of entering alliances

As the modern machine became ubiquitous, the interweaving of architecture with technology seemed to be only consequential. But this circumstance actually leads to the question of how links between architecture and technology are essentially constituted. This relationship is based on an array of different perceptions and conceptions of technical complexes and it is indeed nuanced. The apparent outcomes of the mingling of architecture and technology are for example machines for living, the realization of machine aesthetic, integrated sustainable energy generators, etc. Yet, the emphatic link between architecture and technology is not some curious phenomena, but it is vibrant events related to the encounter of technology. Read more …

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