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Dense Minimalism

Part 2 Dissertation 2011
Jonathan Cerowski
University of Kent Canterbury UK
Of Modernism, Norman Mailer said; “In 30 years a movement can shift from a force that opens possibilities, to one that closes them”. In the 1920’s Corbusier began to reinterpret the classical elements of the Grecian orders. Almost a hundred years later this has been lost in Modernism.

My thesis is an exploration of Modern architects who are questioning their Modernist education in their writings and projects. They are revisiting the past in order to imbue their presents with a sense of contextuality, by parlaying a plethora of mannerisms of classicism and traditionalism, on a scale running from Latin to Vernacular.

My exploration begins with an analysis of a proto Dense Minimalist building, the Villa Necchi Campiglio, before turning to a systematic breakdown of the constituent elements which I believe all buildings within this grouping afford. Through looking at poetics, language, materiality and composition, I explore the way in which Modernism has related to its historical setting and if Dense Minimalism has a place within that context.

I surmise that the Dense Minimalism architectural grouping addresses the discrepancy between the European tradition of classicism and the alienation of modernism by taking modernism in its zeitgeist pure form of minimalism and providing visual and doctrinal densification to invoke a new style.

This, I have come to believe acts as a catalyst to allow architects to pick and choose the balance to which they feel comfortable to design in, or to which a given project requires;

“...the modern movement neglected the importance of the established history of forms and the visual memory.” David Chipperfield.

I believe that Dense Minimalism does not do this. It surmises that since everything is architecturally possible, made so by a lack of formal or technical restrictions, we must impose limits ourselves which become helpful to us as architects when rooting a project within its social and intellectual context.

Through a thorough analysis of a specific selection of built projects, I argue this point and explore the future applications of Dense Minimalism in the architecture of the present.

Jonathan Cerowski

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