The exhibition Architecture Itself and Other Postmodernist Myths presents many ignored and inconvenient contingencies of postmodernist architectural practice. Traces of these external forces are often left in forgotten documents, the salvage of ordinary processes, and assembling them together disturbs the smooth maintenance of the myths of architectural autonomy. Looking beyond North America, the series Meanwhile, in… considers the role of changed contexts in shaping postmodernisms elsewhere, by assembling case studies from other regions, with other cultural concerns and other contingencies.
German architect O.M. Ungers was a key figure in the transatlantic exchange of postmodernist architectural ideas. An established architect of housing and an educator, Ungers left Berlin’s restive Technische Universität for Cornell University in 1968. When resuming his practise in Germany during the late 1970s, his work was infused by a new degree of theorization. A discourse of “themes” afforded Ungers the narrative of autonomy, while providing architecture production with the cultural capital that mass housing had lacked. In Frankfurt, we see Ungers, formerly an architect of mass housing, gravitate from the periphery to the urban center with highly visible civic commissions such as the Deutsches Architekturmuseum. Opening in 1984, this institution is central to understand the new representational tactics deployed by architecture in urban space.
André Bideau is an architecture historian and critic based in Zürich. His research has focused on architecture production and the urban condition since 1968, especially on the work of O.M. Ungers. His current research deals with the work of urban historian André Corboz who taught at Université de Montréal 1967-1980 and subsequently at ETH Zurich. Bideau teaches on both sides of the Atlantic himself, curently at Accademia di architettura in Mendrisio. He is a co-founder of Zentrum Architektur Zürich where he also serves as a curator.
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