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Toward a Critique
of Architectural Ideology

Manfredo Tafuri Dossier by Pau de Solà-Morales

Manfredo Tafuri is possibly one of the most ostracised and unknown architecture critics from the second half of the 20th century. His historical and critical project of colossal depth continues to be a fundamental theoretical piece for modern and contemporary historiography.

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    Contents

    Manfredo Tafuri is probably one of the most ostracised and least known of the architecture critics from the second half of the twentieth century. His profoundly deep historical and critical project, complex and dense prose, and convoluted and Marxist vocabulary have taken the greatest of the architectural critics from the '70s gradually into retirement and oblivion.

    However, the consequences of his fierce criticism of modern architecture (and by extension to postmodern architecture) are not negligible. Tafuri showed us that, since Brunelleschi, all architecture is pure ideology; he situated history (historical criticism) as the only valid method for understanding the fundamentals of architecture (now we would call it "deconstruction"); he used this method to uncover critical problems intrinsic to the architecture of the modern movement and to put an end to its "utopian project", explaining how it became that very thing it wanted to overcome: a tool for capitalist rationality, an instrument that, although intent on being “significant” and "changing the world" (hence its "utopia") became “irrelevant and unnecessary”. Since then, as predicted by Tafuri, architecture has roamed around countless theories (in plural), failing to understand its relation to history and ideology.

    It is very likely that contemporary architecture will enjoy a much better life without that annoying and inconvenient presence over its consciousness, continually reminding it of its failure as a mechanism for social change. And perhaps that's why amnesia and forgetfulness are the best remedies to ward off the "anguish of bourgeois art": the unconscious response for accommodating the shock (and this is a concept shared by Benjamin, Simmel and Tafuri) to which contemporary experience is subjugated is to do away with history and to take refuge in autonomous art and architecture.

    As difficult as it may seem at first glance, however impenetrable it may be, Tafuri's text —we believe— is a fundamental piece of theory for modern and contemporary historiography. Other authors have shared the same thinking by recovering, in the late twentieth century, Tafuri’s ideas and contributions as the work of one of the last theorists of modernity and the first of postmodernism. We would like to make an effort to make it accessible to the majority of people. We will explain what historical criticism is, what Tafuri’s project entailed, and how he used this method to put an end to modern architecture. | © Pau de Solà-Morales CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0

    "Allontanare l'angoscia comprendendone e introiettandone le cause: questo sembra essere uno dei principali imperativi etici dell'arte borghese”. Manfredo Tafuri: Per una crítica dell’ideología architettonica. Contropiano n.1, 1969. Published in English as Toward a Critique of Architectural Ideology, in Hays, Michael: Architecture Theory Since 1968. pp6-34. MIT Press, 2000.

    Protagonists

    PAU DE SOLÀ-MORALES I SERRA has a doctorate in design from Harvard University (2000) and UPC (2006), MDes (1998) and a degree in architecture and urban planning from the ETSAB (UPC, 1993). He is specialised in the use and application of information technology in architecture and design.

    He was granted the COAC 2004 Young Architects Award in the critical article category. He was member of the jury for the FAD Awards on Thought and Criticism 2011 and author, among others, of the volume Los Premios FAD (1958-2008): 50 años de arquitectura e interiorismo en la Península Ibérica and of the compilation Los Artículos de Any by Ignasi de Solà-Morales. He is currently a professor at the University Roviri i Virgili School of Architecture in Reus in Spain where he gives classes on architecture theory and representation techniques. During this time, part of his work has been dedicated to rethinking the role of research in architecture and redefining the role this discipline should play in the knowledge society of the 21st century.

    Details

    Title: Toward a Critique of Architectural Ideology. Manfredo Tafuri
    Author: Pau de Solà-Morales
    Publisher: Vibok Works, MARGINALIA collection
    ISBN: 978-84-939058-4-2
    Pages: 96
    Size: 12x19 cm (width·high)
    Illustrations: B/N
    Language: English/Spanish

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