Method and the Absence of Modernism

Apr 06, 2015

This study addresses the question of whether Modernist positions introduced any new frameworks for design methods beneath the topological and representational difference that appeared to be a radical departure from then-current (late 19th century) design processes. This analysis, following the traditions of cognitive linguistics, was focused on a small corpus of influential textual evidences of two generations of ‘High Modernists’ to examine representative positions. Evidence in the corpus clearly showed the architectural thinking of two central figures involved in Modernism, Walter Gropius and Paul Rudolph, did not develop a new framework for approach but primarily followed the established tradition of methods based on forces and patterns. One of the most interesting findings was that today's dominant framework of concept was absent as a method in the text. Instead, a parallel concept of art was introduced in the writing to hold what was considered non-technical and non-describable content. Finally, there was a limiting of values in the initial starting state and active content to a narrow margin focused around a perceived position of social progress and a few environmental factors. Ultimately, the research identified clear framing changes (belief and values) but did not reveal any change in methodology (process and tools).

keywords: Methodology, Modernism, Cognitive Framework Theory, Discourse Analysis

Philip D. Plowright (Lawrence Technological University)
Presented at: 
ARCC 2015 Conference – The FUTURE of Architectural Research (Chicago, IL)
Published & professionally reviewed by: 
Architectural Research Centers Consortium (ARCC)
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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