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Reyner Banham: Myths, meanings & forms of 20th century architecture (March 26, 1976) Part 1 of 201:02:06

After presenting a short movie of “the end of the mega-structure dream,” Banham describes his lecture as a discussion of another dream, the modernist dream, developed in the 1920s, of an architecture in step with technology, “whose wreckage is still with us.” He quotes a passage from Colin Rowe’s preface to the 1975 Five Architects catalog, which characterizes Banham’s approach as “a repudiation of modern architecture’s form and an endorsement of what the modern movement, theoretically, was supposed to be.” Banham characterizes his talk as a response to Rowe. Banham discusses buildings from the mid-1920s like Ernst May’s low-cost housing in Frankfurt which gave some validity to the myth that buildings in a modernist style were economical to build. He discusses Le Corbusier's “dream world of engineering,” and how he interpreted mass produced products from pipes to ocean liners as perfect solutions to specific needs, created not by a designer but self-created by "the law of mechanical selection." Banham explores the contradiction in Corbusier’s praise of engineering over design, with his preference for specific shapes and forms, by comparing Corbusier’s discussion of mass-produced automobiles and Corbusier’s houses through his 1935 Weekend House. He begins to discuss the influence of Gropius on the second generation of modernist architects when the tape ends.

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