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Making Dystopia: The Strange Rise and Survival of Architectural Barbarism

James Stevens Curl


 A cultural and environmental catastrophe; massive destruction, a waste of resources, alien urban landscapes, and the elimination of all decoration and choice: these are just some of the terms used by James Stevens Curl to describe the triumph of architectural Modernism, a movement that came to be almost globally accepted in the years after the First World War.

Drawing on prodigious personal research and a wealth of supporting materials, Professor Stevens Curl traces the effects of the Modernist revolution in architecture from 1918 to the present, arguing that, with each passing year, so-called ‘iconic’ architecture by supposed ‘star’ architects has become more bizarre, unsettling, and expensive, ignoring established contexts and proving to be stratospherically remote from the aspirations and needs of humanity. In the élite world of contemporary architecture, form increasingly follows finance, and in a society in which the ‘haves’ have more, and the ‘have-nots’ are ever more marginalized, he warns that contemporary architecture continues to stack up huge potential problems for the future, as housing costs spiral out of control, resources are squandered on architectural bling, and society fractures.


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