Refocusing on meaning is the key to a new, humanly enriched design of buildings and cities, argues Pierluigi Serraino
Modernism nears its centenary, marked by the founding of the Bauhaus in 1919, it seems an apt time to evaluate its role in shaping today’s built environment. What has been its qualitative impact? Did it deliver the promise of a democracy of design, architecture for everybody? Answers to these broad questions might be philosophically complex, but their physical outcomes are incontrovertibly evident in the public domain.
The Modernist project materially improved life conditions in innumerable ways. Committed to addressing the present moment as the basis for action, it focused its energy on many critical areas. It endeavoured to solve social ills through the design of hygienic mass housing, as well shaping a new kind of workplace, where responsible citizenship could take place and the democracy of social improvement be enacted. Through the invention of programming, fitness between form and function became central to the making of architecture. Bringing scientific rationalism into design transformed and underpinned architecture, giving it a more deeply rooted and considered relationship with the industrialised world. By introducing new construction