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Acoustic form in the Modern Movement

By P. Blundell Jones and J. Kang


The architects of the Modern Movement in the late 1920s found new sources of form through the pursuit of technical and functional issues in design. They sought shaping agents in functional organization, in the admission of light, in efficiency of structure and construction, and many other physical issues of this kind. At the same time, they felt the need to escape from traditional rules of architectural composition involving Classical orders of columns, symmetry and axes. They were ready to discover a new and surprising identity for buildings precisely to defy the historicist conventions that until then dominated architecture as a cultural tradition. Acoustics is an area in which many interesting claims were made, and some famous Modernist designs were supposedly formed, or at very least inspired, by acoustic forces. These historical instances beg the question whether acoustics is really a legitimate and helpful formal determinant of buildings. Perhaps instead, the acoustic arguments put forward by architects to justify their formal choices were just convenient alibis. This is a far more complex issue than at first it seems.\u

Year: 2003
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