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MODERNISM,
MODERNISATION
AND THE RURAL LANDSCAPE

MODSCAPES_conference2018 & Baltic Landscape Forum 2018

Keynote speakers

Kindly supported by:

Catherine Maumi – ENSA-Grenoble

Catherine Maumi is architect. She holds a PhD from the EHESS in Urban Studies, an HDR (research habilitation) from the University Paris 8, and is Full Professor in History and Theories of Architecture and the City at the ENSA – École nationale supérieure d’architecture of Grenoble, where she heads the research laboratory MHAevt – Métiers de l’Histoire de l’Architecture, édifices-villes-territoires, Univ. Grenoble Alpes (mhaevt.hypotheses.orgwww.grenoble.archi.fr).

Her researches are mainly focused on the thoughts developed at the scale of the city and the territory and question more particularly the North-American architectural and urban cultures, trying to identify their specificities compared to the European ones.

On these topics, she published, among others :

  • Frank Lloyd Wright, Broadacre City, La nouvelle frontière, Paris, Éditions de la Villette, Collection « Textes fondamentaux modernes », 2015, 208 p.
  • Usonia ou le mythe de la ville-nature américaine, Paris, Éditions de la Villette, Collection « Penser l’espace », 2009, 240 p.
  • Thomas Jefferson et le projet du Nouveau Monde, forword by André Corboz, Paris, Éditions de la Villette, 2007, 176 p.
  • « Pour une écologie humaine, de Patrick Geddes à Benton Mackaye », Espace et Sociétés n° 167 « Patrick Geddes en héritage », Toulouse, Éditions érès, n°4/2016, pp. 27-42. http://www.cairn.info/revue-espaces-et-societes-2016-4-page-27.htm.
  • « Le Regional planning : une nouvelle exploration pour révéler l’habitabilité des territoires », in Sylvie Lardon, Alexis Pernet (dir.), Explorer le territoire par le projet, Collection ERPS, vol. 5, Presses universitaires de St Etienne, 2015, pp. 18-37.

RURALISM AS OPPOSED TO URBANISM; REGIONAL PLANNING AS HUMAN ECOLOGY.
When modernity was also an invitation to be inhabitants of the Earth

Frank Lloyd Wright, Broadacre City Project (Model in four sections),1934-1935.

Source: The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives (The Museum of Modern Art | Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York), 1853.2012.a-d © Photo: Catherine Maumi, 2017.

Frank Lloyd Wright, Broadacre City Project (Model in four sections),1934-1935

At the beginning of the 20th century, the United States do not reflect anymore the ideal of being the “Garden of the World”, one which had fostered the imagination of its inhabitants since the end of the 18th century, and had built a specific landscape – the pastoral or middle landscape – during the 19th. The country has now established itself as a major industrial and economic force, and New York symbolizes this new national power. However, this evolution wasn’t without serious consequences on the living conditions within the urban and rural realms, where a large part of the population was getting poorer. It had also caused dramatic transformations of the natural landscape and even, more important, large-scale ecological disasters.

These significant changes invited some professionals and intellectuals (economists, architects, landscape architects, urban planners, foresters, etc.) to work on new economic, political and spatial proposals in order to avoid all kind of speculation – on the land, money and on human workforce – and to imagine new ways of life on Earth more respectful of its resources, natural ecosystems, but also of the living world, humans being part of it.

The first proposal we will focused on is the idea of geotechnics, or Regional planning, as defined by Benton MacKaye, and as illustrated by his project for the Appalachian Trail, first presented in 1921. According to MacKaye, “Regional planning is ecology. It is human ecology; its concern is the relation of the human organism to its environment”.

The second project is the one proposed by Frank Lloyd Wright with Broadacre City, illustrated by the model shown in 1935; it was built with the purpose of explaining to the general public a new, cooperative and democratic way of life on Earth. It is impossible to dissociate anymore the rural realm from the urban one in Broadacre City, where “it is true that landscape becomes architecture just as architecture becomes a kind of landscape. But both are integral with the ground and are an orchestration of form according to nature”.

Both visions are inviting us to think about the problems we have to face now, on the 21st Century, on any place of the Earth.

Ana Tostões – Docomomo International / Tecníco – University of Lisbon

Ana Tostões, PhD is an architect, architecture critic and historian, and is president of Docomomo International and Editor of the Docomomo Journal. She is a Full Professor at the Instituto Superior Técnico, University of Lisbon, where she teaches Theory of Architecture and Critical History, and coordinates the Architectonic Culture research group. She was awarded the X Bienal Ibero-Americana de Arquitectura y Urbanismo Prize 2016. She also works as a critic in Journals and Newspapers, notably writing a weekly architectural column for the Portuguese daily the Público.
Her research field is the Critical History and Theory of Contemporary Architecture, focusing on the relationship between European, Asian, African and American cultures. On this topic, she has published books and essays, curated exhibitions and organised scientific events.

On these topics, she published, among others :

  • The Shape of the City, (as editor), IST Press, Lisbon, 2017.
  • The Mediterranean Question, (as editor), IST Press, Lisbon, 2017.
  • “How to Love Modern [Post-]Colonial Architecture: Rethinking Memory in Angola and Mozambique Cities”, in Architectural Theory Review, 21 (2),2016: 196-217.
    https://doi.org/10.1080/13264826.2017.1350990
  • (as editor, with Zara Ferreira) Adaptive Reuse – The Modern Movement Towards the Future, Proceedings of the Fourteenth International Docomomo Conference (Lisbon, Sep. 6-9, 2016), Docomomo International, 2016.
  • Keil do Amaral, arquitecto dos Espaços Verdes de Lisboa: Monsanto, Parque Eduardo VII e Campo Grande, Lisbon, Salamandra, 1992.

RURAL MODERN LANDSCAPES : PARADOX OR METAPHOR

This lecture intends to reflect on the territory occupation and to discuss the link between the vernacular rural tradition and the will to define a modern architecture. Questions such as typology, mass housing and high-density versus low-rise will be addressed.

Scholars consider that the Modern Movement architecture influenced above all the city developments since it was oriented towards the Urban realm. This focus would eventually mean the disregard of the countryside, leading to a paradox when it comes to look at modern rural landscapes. However, soon the argument of the relationship between modernity and cultural identity emerged in this framework, deeply connected with vernacular rural architecture: in a way to support the definition of the esthetical program and legitimate a kind of modern expression several studies on popular architecture were carried on.

Linked to the worldwide panorama where these concerns have been addressed, connecting Previ in Peru or Los Portales in Chile with other examples, the analysis will focus on the typology assessments recalled from vernacular architecture. From that perspective, the goal of this research is to reveal the path that a new generation of architects from 60s ongoing assumed through a strong commitment between modernity and tradition.

Finally, this knowledge will be linked with the development of the Project SAAL – Local Ambulance Support Service (1974-1976) – with particular attention to projects like Bairro de São Victor by Álvaro Siza and Casal das Figueiras by Gonçalo Byrne – that found the opportunity to continue the previous ideas, simultaneously solving the urgent Housing problem the country was facing.

Gerhard Ermischer – SpessartProjekt / CIVILSCAPE

Born in Salzburg (Austria), Gerhard Ermischer studied history and archaelogy in Innsbruck (Leopold-Franzens-Universität) and in the United Kingdom (University of Southampton), obtaining his doctoral degree in 1993. He worked as archaelogist and museum curator in Aschaffenbrug (Germany) since 1991, and established an association dedicated to the cultural landscape of the Spessart region in 1998 (http://www.spessartprojekt.de). This association, based on the participatory contribution of some 7.000 volunteer citizens engaged in research, interpretation and management activities for the Spessart landscape, is now a fully acknowledged research institute at the University of Würzburg.

This early experience of “citizen science” brought him to collaborate with the Council of Europe on the European Landscape Convention since 2001. Gerhard is one of the founding members of CIVILSCAPE, which he represents at the Council of Europe’s Conference of INGOs (international non-governmental organizations: https://www.coe.int/en/web/ingo/home).

THE HIDDEN LANDSCAPE UNCOVERED. A KEY-STUDY FROM THE SPESSART-REGION IN GERMANY

The Spessart is a typical upland region in Germany and twenty years ago a group of archaeologists, historians and other cultural scientists started a volunteer project to study and communicate this landscape – a landscape with an image of poverty and seen a marginal landscape. So the focus was on the history and features of cultural landscapes reflecting an older past, their developed also a focus on modern landscape features: the motorway intersecting the Spessart and connecting it with the regional economic centres built in the 1950s, the first high rise buildings in the area, the abandoned irrigations systems and water meadows, the modern agricultural landscape in the east of the Spessart with its fast changing economic and social structure. These modern elements were often neglected, invisible to observers, seen as neither nice nor important. But for the local people they turned out to be of a great importance for their own identity and visitors started to get interested as soon as they were confronted with the personal stories of the local people – stories they could relate to from their own experiences. These developments were fostered by experiences from partners throughout Europe in a series of partner projects where ideas, methods and different approaches to the more recent heritage influenced the work of the academics with the local population in the Spessart. Volunteers often relate very strongly to this modern heritage and want to tell their own stories about it. It is a history which is still alive and therefore the participative aspect of dealing with it, or in our case to create a thematic trail to tell the story of a specific landscape, is more personal than in cases dealing with a more distant past. This shall be exemplified mainly by examples of the Spessart region, but also from the European network that influenced the work in the Spessart.