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Unveiling the Simple Surface: An Argument for Sophisticated Ornament in Modern Architecture

Part 2 Dissertation 2011
Michelle Wong
University of Greenwich, UK
Modernist architecture is seen as being plain, white and simple. Often its ‘simplicity’ is mistakenly achieved by eliminating ornament but, ironically, there is evidence that ornament still exists. A highly sophisticated ornament is hidden in simple modernist architecture by subtly inserting itself into the main body in a disciplined manner. By more closely examining Adolf Loos (an advocator of anti-ornament) and Le Corbusier (a representative of modern architecture) I will be identifying the different forms of what I call sophisticated ornament: the additions of objects which enhance appreciation, in accordance with Immanuel Kant in his Critique of Judgment 1790:

“…what does not belong to the whole presentation of the object as an intrinsic constituent, but only an extrinsic addition, does indeed increase our taste’s liking…”

Immanuel Kant, 1790

1. Kant, I., (1790), Critique of Judgement. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing company, Inc.

Michelle Wong

Braden Engel
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