Arsonists and artisans: Coping with architectural traditions at the centre and the periphery

2nd Transalpine Workshop, ‘Organized Creativity’, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, 27–28 May 2024

‘Architecture has to blaze’ proclaimed a young group of architects who sought to overcome the besetting tradition of modernism. The challenge posed by ‘deconstructivism’ turned the institutional field of architecture into a veritable battlefield on which combat against the vigorously defended mainstream unfolded across the following five domains. (1) Areas: The deconstructivist movement emerged in a center (Vienna) in which an unforgiving selection environment boosted the early radicalization and purification of the movement. (2) Accounts: The launch of manifestos proved crucial in dealing with the perennial challenge of the avant-garde, i.e. supply (of a radical new style) precedes the demand for it. (3) Affect: The mobilization of collective affect through histrionic happenings was instrumental in constructing collective identity. (4) Artifacts: The ongoing calibration of aesthetic judgments resulted in a binding artifact code (specifying distinct materials and construction principles). (5) Associations: The eventual consecration was achieved by mobilizing the cultural capital of deconstructivist philosophy that already had proven its effectiveness in overthrowing established hierarchies. This conceptual framework of five domains from which to contest the mainstream will also be employed to reconstruct the challenge of deconstructivism by the ‘new regionalism’ originating at the periphery (Vorarlberg).