Transatlantic Humanism: Correspondance between William Wurster and Scandinavian Architects
2013 (English)In: Architectural elective affinities: correspondences, transfers, inter/multidisciplinarity, EAHN / FAUUSP Conference São Paulo, Brazil, 20-23 March 2013, 2013Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
After a visit to UC Berkeley in 1954, Steen Eiler Rasmussen writes a long letter to William Wurster, Dean of the College of Architecture, on his return to Denmark in which he talks about being tired of European architecture discussions. Rasmussen proposes that "it is time to formulate a new movement, an association of architects who stand for sane ideas, for a realistic architecture."[i]
Through correspondence between William Wurster and Scandinavian architects during the post-war period it becomes apparent that shared humanist values was a foundation for buildings as well as architectural debate, which collectively articulated a modernist rationale. This sensitive architecture has been understood as separated regionalisms (Bay area Regionalism and New Empiricism) but can be spoken of as connective tissue between architects that shared ideals, opinions and even drawings. This paper aims to illustrate that not only were there a gathering of architects across the Atlantic who wished to improve the human environment beyond monumental ideas and stylistic visions for the masses, but also to problematize how the canon of architecture history of this period has been distinguished by nation, region or continent. William Wurster and his Scandinavian peers’ commitment to a social and individual conditioning of architecture appear strong at heart. This becomes very clear in reasoning beyond Modernism’s dogma and in particular through William Wurster’s public disapproval of Arne Jacobsen’s architecture, which was more attuned to the International style. Disguised as Glassy Brutalism, William Wurster’s slip stirred up some feelings and ended with an apologizing letter to Danish architect Kay Fisker.
[i] Steen Eiler Rasmussen, letter to Catherine and William Wurster, August 21, 1954. Wurster Dean Records, folder Steen Eiler Rasmussen, Box 14.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
humanism, regionalism, social architecture, correspondence
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-165428OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-165428DiVA: diva2:808354
FAUUSP Conference São Paulo, Brazil, 20-23 March 2013
FunderKnut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation
QC 201505042015-04-282015-04-282015-05-04Bibliographically approved