Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture

Front Cover
The Museum of Modern Art, 1977 - Architecture - 132 pages
4 Reviews
First published in 1966, and since translated into 16 languages, this remarkable book has become an essential document of architectural literature. A "gentle manifesto for a nonstraightforward architecture," Venturi's Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture expresses in the most compelling and original terms the postmodern rebellion against the purism of modernism. Three hundred and fifty architectural photographs serve as historical comparisons and illuminate the author's ideas on creating and experiencing architecture. Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture was the winner of the Classic Book Award at the AIA's Seventh Annual International Architecture Book Awards.

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Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture by Robert Venturi is insightful, compelling and has been uniquely influential on the architecture of today. The perspective it offers can not be fully appreciated today. It was written in reaction to the narrow tyranny of modernist ideology imposed and enforced in the schools of architecture (first by Gropius at Harvard) and then in professional journals and the profession itself.
Under that regime pre-modern buildings could not be imitated admired or looked to for insight. Venturi found that boring, pointless and a creative impediment. (Not a rejection of modern architecture itself.) Modern architecture seemed a spent force by the mid-sixties. Others would agree and Postmodernism was born. Postmodernism was less a style or movement that a reaction and a transition to a creative renewal of modernism.
Vincent Scully - "probably the most important writing on the making of architecture since Le Corbusier's 'Vers Une Architecture', of 1923."
originally published: 1966
(Review of reviews: Warning - some of the previous 12 reviews offered here are just ridiculous.)

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This is an appeal of a practicing architect to treat architecture more as literary creation, rather than as a rigid, highly function, economically feasible and strictly utilitarian. He believes that tensions and complexities makes structure interesting and must not be sacrificed to efficiency and function. High level balance is achieved in a dynamism of parts and logical resolution of the whole. Venturi provides illustrations of the old and new architecture, making connections with art criticism of T.S. Eliot and others. This is an essay concerning more of philosophy of architecture rather that guidelines for practicing architects.  


Contradiction Juxtaposed
9 The Inside and the Outside
The Obligation Toward the Difficult Whole

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