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Charting the Evolution of Twentieth-Century Modernism through Chamberlin Powell & Bon's Interpretation

Part 2 Dissertation 2014
Jennifer Bull
University of Kent UK
The curiosity on which this dissertation is based connects two contrasting moments in twentieth-century Modernism separated by thirty years and an entire continent. These are Chamberlin Powell & Bon's architectural bookends of the Golden Lane Estate and the Barbican, London, that sit only five years and a single road apart.

The first era of discussion originates in Switzerland in 1928, when the Congrès Internationaux d'Architecture Moderne was founded and brought together a grouping of like-minded European architects in order to promote and develop rationalisation and standardisation in architecture. Theories, writings and works from this era demonstrate the spirit of early Modernism in Europe, and subsequently provide the foundation from which Golden Lane is explored, identifying patterns of influence between early modern architectural forerunners and CP&B's first project.

The second moment in Modernism looks to the period following the Second World War when certain members of CIAM began to question its inherited functionalist principles, and a group of its younger associates soon to be known as Team Ten began to strive for an alternative basis for a more socially engaged architecture. As with CIAM’s pre-war works, Team X schemes and concepts are chosen to demonstrate the group’s evolved interpretations of modern architecture in Europe, which subsequently further the discussion onto CP&B's most noteworthy bookend, the Barbican housing estate in the City of London.

In order to demonstrate the remarkable evolution between Chamberlin Powell & Bon's sister estates, each theme in the dissertation is discussed from polar opposite perspectives. Firstly, from an urban scale, a typological discussion considers the 'negation' and then the 'interpretation' of the notion of street, secondly, physical considerations from 'lightness and jollity' to 'mass and honesty' are explored through the lens of building weight, and lastly the study turns to its least tangible scale of interpretation and investigates the psychological premise of each topic from 'forgetting' to 'associating', according to the idea of memory in architecture.

Jennifer Bull

Dr Gerald Adler
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