On the schism between architecture and technology, by S. Giedion

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1806 Napoleon founded Ecole des Beaux Arts (…) the program maintained the unity of arch with the other arts as in the baroque period (..) bad administration caused an increasing isolation of the arts from the conditions of ordinary life

the Ecole Polytechnique had been founded during the French Revolution in 1794 as an ecole speciale (…) it offered a uniform scientific preparation for the higher technical schools (…) it combined theoretical and practical science and it directly influenced industry (…) the school set itself the task to establish a connection between science and life (…)

the gap was between science and its techniques and arts (…) the separate existence of Ecole des Beaux Arts and Ecole Polytechnique point to the schism of architectural and construction. the schism revolved around two questions: a. along what lines should the arch training proceed at the time and b. what was the relation between engineer and architect.

Rondelet was the first to insist that scientific techniques had an important role to play in arch and that constructional methods had to be allowed much more influence upon the character of a building design (…) Van de Velde recognized that the engineer promised the regeneration and not the destruction of architecture (…) LeCorbusier in 1924 marked the solution between the two by saying that the century of the machine had awakened the architect…

Even before Le Corbusier, Henri Labrouste, born in Paris in 1801, was the first to have united the abilities of both the eng and the arch. In 1830 he objected to the curriculum of the Ecole des Beaux Arts and thus he opened his own atelier. The Ecole, isolated Labrouste until 12 years later when he was finally commissioned to design the Library of S. Genevieve in Paris in cast- and wrought-iron and the National Library just after that.

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Markets: Hall of the Madeleine 1824, Hungerfort Fish Market (London) 1835, The Grandes Halles 1853 by Baltard (rejected 1:Horeau rejected 2:Flachat)

Department Stores: Bon Marche (by Eiffel and Boileau)

The great exhibitions: A’ period 1798-1849_National/B; Period 1849-1900_International (…) They represent the history of iron construction and the important changes in aesthetic response (…) it became all the more difficult to differentiate between load and support (…) the vaulting problem has always brought forth the greatest architectural expressions of every epoch (…) Crystal Palace in 1851 and the Galerie des Machines of 1889 represented the two most prominent buildings of the great exhibitions (…) Crystal Palace in particular was an application of mass serial production (…) Paxton used the ridge and furrow system (…) The design of the building was planned around the largest standard sheet of glass (four feet long) (…) The CP realizes the intention to dematerialize landscape and dissolve it into infinity. 

 

References

Giedion, S., 1982 (1941), Space, Time and Architecture, Fifth Revised and Enlarged Edition, Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, pp. 146-191

  • Image of Ecole Polytechnique available here
  • Image of Library Reading Room available here
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