on February 6, 2011
Regionalism has occupied the architectural discourse under different guises, picturesque, vernacular, popular and organic architecture, at least since the early 19th century. In the 1980 Kenneth Frampton revived the interest in regionalism by defining with "Critical Regionalism" a contemporary typological and tectonic approach.
It is clear from this anthology that regionalism still eludes a precise definition, which is in a way a healthy aspect of an approach that should be primarily local even when embracing some universal values.
The broad inclusiveness of the texts, spanning from 1929 lectures by Le Corbusier to the last decade (up to 2005) makes this work very valuable not just as a history of ideas, but also as away to realize the deep roots that link modern architecture to the local ways of building. Today we can interpret Regionalism as Sam Mockbee's Rural Studio work or as the Regenerative Architecture proposed by Steven Moore (both included in the anthology), with its obvious connections to the idea of social and ecological sustainability.
I have found the texts to be very stimulating for my architecture students, and not too hard to read. Seminal theorists, such as Christopher Alexander and Juhani Pallasmaa, are included. The author's introductions are informative and explanatory without being unduly long. It is a good choice of essays, some hard to find in print, that makes a good reading also outside the classroom.
on February 28, 2007
The intent of this volume was to construct a coherent history of the idea of regionalism from its many many supporting texts and ideas. It is an important collection of writing that covers the entire 20th Century intellectual history of Regionalism in Architecture and includes such authors as: Lewis Mumford, Le Corbusier, David Williams, Mary Colter, Pietro Belluschi, Christopher Alexander, Wendell Berry, Kenneth Frampton, Sigfried Giedion, Harwell Hamilton Harris, Richard Ingersoll, Benton MacKaye, John Gaw Meem, Richard Neutra, Paul Ricouer, Alan Colquhoun, Juhani Pallasmaa, among others (44 in all). Further, it considers Regionalism in an international context, particularly the developing world through the writings of Suha Ozkan (Middle East), Balkrishna Doshi (India), and Kenza Boussora (Algeria). In it are provided contextual introductions to each text and an introduction that attempts to place the discourse, as a whole in reasonable framework. The topics include: Regionalist theory, Referential Regionalism (1920s & 30s), Regional Modernism (1930s-1960s), Regional Planning, Bioregionalism, Critical Regionalism, and a set of essays that update and extend the discourse into the future via performativity theory, sustainability, and the socially-critical work of the Rural Studio.