'Was concrete modern?'
Every history of twentieth century architecture repeats the mantra that without concrete, modern architecture would not have happened, that 'modern architecture was born under the sign of reinforced concrete'. But what makes reinforced concrete 'modern'? As a medium, it is as much un-modern as it is modern. Why were architects throughout the twentieth century so determined to promote the modernity of concrete? And what have the consequences of this fixation been - for architecture, and for concrete?
Adrian Forty is a distinguished scholar of architecture and design at the Bartlett (UCL) in London. His most recent book, Concrete and Culture, is a favorite of some of our students. Earlier books have been tremendously influential, especially Words and Buildings and Objects of Desire. Adrian is also a major figure in the EAHN (European Architectural History Network).
With Steven Mankouche, Prof. Ratté and Prof. Terrenato our research grant: "Architectural Revolutions from the Roman Empire to the Digital Age" undertakes an interdisciplinary investigation of the relationship between architecture and technology, focusing on architectural "revolutions" sparked by innovations in technology. The project embraces a comparative historical perspective, taking the "Roman architectural revolution" (the development of structural concrete) and modern developments in digital design and digital fabrication as starting points.