Legacies of Modernism

James Longfield and Elizabeth Baldwin Gray
Newcastle University

Modern architecture could be considered to constitute a radically altered approach to design that emerged in response to the rapidly industrialising nations of Europe in the early 20th Century. Artists and architects sought ways to respond to and embody a ‘new spirit’ of the age, defined by the impact of technological progression on the social domain. Popular criticism of modern architecture tends to focus on the prevailing images of an identifiable aesthetic, however through our studio we encouraged students to develop a sophisticated understanding of the spatial and social processes that underpinned the emergence of modern movements in their varying guises, and to contend with their differences and complementarities.

Centrally, the studio asked students to explore the role of theory and idea as driving forces in the formation and realisation of an architectural project, by engaging with a close reading of two key movements of 20th Century architecture; early European Modernism, and the later British manifestation of Brutalism. The studio asked students to contend with their legacies through a series of analytical and propositional spatial exercises, addressing the contemporary relevance of these (im)possibly linked movements either through a continuation of their conflicted emergences or by reactionary contrast.

By studying and adopting the processes that created them, the work of the studio sought to develop a spatial awareness of scale, volume, and projection, pushing beyond standard notions of style into an understanding of the modern project.

Students: Anastasia Ciorici, Huyen Anh Do, Rodrigo Domingos, Oliver Harrington, Lee Kwan Lam, Ka Ching Leung, Anna Moncarzewska, Patricia Prayogo, Sophie Tilley, Sofia Turner, Anna Volkova, Tam Yun Tak, Zhong Zheng, Erya Zhu.

Awards: RIBA North East and Yorkshire Student Award Nomination - Tam Yun Tak

Sophie Tilley: